The Chargers’ passing attack improved from a ranking of 24th in the NFL in 2012 all the way up to fourth last season. A lot of this had to do with Mike McCoy taking over the head coaching duties and Ken Whisenhunt implementing a more favorable quick-pass offense for Rivers as the team’s offensive coordinator.
One guy who can’t be overlooked for Rivers’ resurgence last year is coach Frank Reich. He was San Diego’s quarterbacks coach last season before being promoted to offensive coordinator this year after Whisenhunt left for the head coaching job with the Tennessee Titans.
For those who don’t know coach Reich, he played 13 years in the NFL, mostly as a backup quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and Detroit Lions. After his playing career was over, Reich went into coaching, where he started out as a offensive assistant with the Colts in 2008. The next year, he was promoted to quarterbacks coach, and from 2009-10, he helped Manning and the Colts’ passing attack rank second and first in consecutive seasons. Reich is now getting his first opportunity as an offensive coordinator, and he’s incorporating “K-Gun” concepts from his time backing up Jim Kelly with the Bills, along with the no-huddle.
The Chargers seemed somewhat conservative at times, even though it led them to rank first in time of possession (TOP) last year. TOP is an overrated stat, as the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks ranked 14th and 15th respectively last season and they met in the Super Bowl. What the Chargers have to improve on offense is their red-zone scoring, where they ranked 23rd. There were countless times where they couldn’t punch the ball into the endzone from inside the 10-yard line.
The no-huddle should drastically improve the Chargers’ red-zone offense. This up-tempo offense will give the Chargers more scoring opportunities and limit opposing defensive substitutions. This offensive scheme is similar to the Broncos’ and Philadelphia Eagles‘, who ranked one and two last season in total offense.
This will give Rivers more control over the offense, where he flourished last year. In 2013, Rivers was one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks under pressure, where he completed almost 60 percent of such attempts. This was due to his ability to recognize defensive schemes, audible at the line of scrimmage, and get the ball out quickly to receivers in space.
This is what has made Manning so successful over his career, being able to out-think his opponents on the field. McCoy and Reich have seen this first hand while working with Manning in the past, and they both believe Rivers possesses the same mental and physical attributes. Rivers has already proven what he can accomplish with protection and has played extremely well in last year’s quick-pass offense. Bringing in the up-tempo scheme to San Diego will be scary for opposing defenses.
Rivers won the Comeback Player of the Year award last season after he led the Chargers back to the playoffs, and then found himself in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. While he was superb last year, this season could be Rivers’ best since he entered the NFL in 2004.