Philip Rivers is entering his eighth season as the starting quarterback with the San Diego Chargers. San Diego has not made the playoffs since 2009, so this is arguably Rivers’ most important season of his career.
According to U-T San Diego beat writer Michael Gehlken, Rivers said, “The phrase that the coaches said most to me is, take what they give you.” Rivers combined for 47 turnovers over the last two seasons, trailing only New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez, so this approach is smart advice.
San Diego’s offensive line surrendered 49 sacks last year, which ranked fourth in the NFL. Rivers was sacked three times on four drives against the Chicago Bears in a preseason game this year, with most of the first team offensive line on the field. Rivers spiked the ball into the turf after he was sacked for a third time.
The O-line will be tested in Monday’s regular season opener against the Houston Texans, who ranked fifth in the league with 44 sacks in 2012.
The Chargers do not have a player on the current roster with at least 70 receptions or 900 receiving yards in a season since 2009. They also does not have a player on the current roster with at least 10 touchdown receptions in a season since 2010. Rivers needs to maximize what he has around him, by attempting shorter passes at times.
Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead need to take pressure away from Rivers. San Diego ranked 31st in yards per rushing attempt, and was tied for last with four rushing touchdowns in 2012. I do not expect the Charger’s rushing attack to be this bad again, but stopping Rivers could still be the focal point for most defenses.
Rivers’ QB rating ranked 11th in 2011 and 2012, so he still played well at times, despite the turnovers. Rivers has seen the weapons around him decline due to injuries and front office decisions to pass on re-signing players. I expect Rivers to be less turnover prone in 2013, which San Diego needs in order to have a shot at a successful season.