Philip Rivers, Not Coaching Staff, to Blame for San Diego Chargers’ Goal Line Meltdown

By Kevin Chan
Philip Rivers San Diego Chargers
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The game was in hand. The game-winning touchdown was overturned, but it didn’t matter. First-and-goal from inside the one is a guarantee, right?

Three chances to get one yard. Zero power running plays. Overtime and then loss.

Blame the San Diego Chargers playcalling on this one, but not Ken Whisenhunt. Blame Philip Rivers.

See, Philip Rivers was the one calling the plays at the line of scrimmage at the goal-line, one yard away from victory against the Washington Redskins. According to Head Coach Mike McCoy in the postgame press conference, the first down play was originally a pass play that Rivers checked to a run. In a three-receiver set where the receivers were all matched up one-on-one, Rivers decided that a shotgun run with Danny Woodhead was the better option. A run play when there’s less than a yard to go is fine, but the team didn’t have their best run blocking personnel on the field, and the Redskins had eight guys in the box. Not to mention Woodhead is not a power back and just got hurt on the play before.

On second down, the Bolts brought in their power running personnel and called for a Ryan Mathews run. But it appears that Rivers checked to a fade to Antonio Gates, who had a favorable matchup against the smaller DeAngelo Hall. It didn’t even seem like all the players got the memo that it was a pass play. (Nick Hardwick blocked his way to the second level.) Hall did a good job jamming Gates at the line of scrimmage and the pass fell incomplete.

On third down, a rollout to the right was called, which gave Rivers only two targets, Eddie Royal and Keenan Allen, neither of whom could get open. This conservative call was on Whisenhunt, who probably wanted to make sure Rivers wouldn’t be hit or sacked in the pocket which could have led to a fumble or more difficult field goal. Rivers isn’t a threat to run for the touchdown or scramble to buy time for receivers to get open.

Rivers and the Chargers overthought this one. Rivers called run when the personnel around him was better for pass, he called pass when the personnel around him was better for run, and Whisenhunt called QB rollout when Rivers is too immobile to really do anything. The team got too cute and tried trickery instead of relying on the strengths of the players on the field.

Not all can be blamed on Philip Rivers. He was, in fact, the one who drove his team 91 yards to get his team into that position. But great quarterbacks are able to finish in that situation.

Kevin Chan is a San Diego Chargers writer for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.


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