Amidst the dismal stretch of games the Chargers are on, plenty of blame has been spread around. No one is wrong in blaming the coaches, the players and management. Every aspect of the team has failed at some point. The Chargers have lost four of their last five after starting the season 3-1, falling a game behind the Broncos in the race for the AFC West crown. After following the message boards, Twitter and numerous blogs and columns The Greg One is choosing his side. My side can be summed up in four words. To steal a phrase from a manic Britney Spears sympathizer:
LEAVE PHILIP RIVERS ALONE!!!
Everyone who’s read my columns knows Rivers is my favorite player so you may think i’m going homer and you would be partially right. Partially. The Greg One and PR share the N.C. State connection and he now plays for my favorite team. Add that he’s a freaking awesome quarterback and there’s my stance. Now, time to be real. Favorite player or not, I know bad when I see it and Rivers hasn’t played bad but he hasn’t player great either. Criticism is definitely earned. My beef is with the so-called Charger fans calling for Rivers to be traded. All of you should turn in your lightning bolts and stay away from true Charger fans who know the real value of Philip Rivers.
Yes, the interceptions have continued and some of it can be attributed to bad decision making, no denying that. In the end the one who threw the ball will get the blame whether it was tipped or thrown right into the hands of the defender. Like last season, the weight of the team rest solely on Rivers and he knows it. The Philip Rivers we see now is not the elite quarterback we’re used to seeing and here are the top three reasons why:
1. No running game. Ryan Mathews has not been able to stay on the field and be productive when he is on the field. The man who is full of potential has not lived up to it by a long shot.Two running backs already have over 1000 yards rushing. The Chargers don’t have 1000 yards rushing as a TEAM. No Chargers has has a 100-yard game. No running game equals no play action big plays down the field. We all know when Rivers what Rivers is capable of when the running game is going and unfortunately that hasn’t happened in the last two seasons. As a result, Rivers makes ill-advised passes trying to force something to happen.
2. No offensive line. We have seen it all season. When Rivers has a clean pocket, he is an elite quarterback and is the most accurate downfield and deep ball passer in the league. The O-line is depleted to the point of starting a rookie tackle to protect Rivers blind side. Injuries have been the norm on the line and that results in Rivers getting buried under opportunistic pass rushers. Management has decided to beef up the pass rush the last two seasons and ignored the offensive line. Gaither was a find last season but he’s hurt and there is no proven player to take his place. No offensive lineman was added in free agency and there were guys to be had. God bless Dielman and Hardwick for manning up and trying to add some continuity to the line but its clear they’re wearing down and there are no blue chip studs to fill their shoes. They did resign Gaither in the offseason but there is a little thing called depth…apparently the front office hasn’t been introduced to the concept. Now Gaither’s chronic back injury has Rivers running for his life and the last thing any of us want to see is Rivers running, which leads me to my most telling point.
3. Bad play calling/clock management. In the Thursday night game against Kansas City the Chargers were goal-to-go just seconds before halftime. Rivers took the snap, rolled right, and was intercepted in the end zone. Last week against Tampa Bay the Chargers were in the red zone with a chance to retake the lead. Rivers took the snap, rolled right, was intercepted and the cornerback ran it back for a touchdown. What do these plays have in common? Rivers is RUNNING!! For the love of God, WHY in the blue hell is our ‘genius’ head coach/playcaller sending in designed rollouts?? We see nothing good comes from Philip Rivers running. Somehow, Norv is blind to this fact. When he can stand in the pocket he can throw strikes with the best. Steve Young he is not. Need more examples? With the Chargers playing in a monsoon in Cleveland, Norv is still calling DEEP ROUTES. Hurricane winds. Pouring rain. Deep ball. Which of the three does not belong? The defense held the Browns to 7 points and the Chargers still LOST the game. TO CLEVELAND!! If that’s not bad play calling and game management I don’t know what is. Exhibit D. Denver. 24 Point lead at halftime. Lost the game by 11. ‘Nuff said.
The only thing Philip Rivers is guilty of is taking on too much by himself. So to all the Rivers bashers out there, check yourselves. The man is STILL a franchise quarterback. The man is OUR franchise quarterback. Trade him? Twenty four of the 32 teams in the league would fall over themselves getting to the phone to be the first to call Chargers headquarters about a trade. We should all consider ourselves lucky Rivers hasn’t gone the way of so many athletes before him and demanded to be traded somewhere else. With the beating he’s taken and the front office inability to give him an offensive line that can keep his jersey clean no one would blame him. Let’s start by bringing in a coach with a fresh system because Norv is wasting Rivers prime years. Send GM AJ Smith with him and get a guy who’s not afraid to scratch a check to keep prime talent in San Diego. You all better recognize what we have here. Philip Rivers is Dan Fouts 2.0. Take care of those three things mentioned above and Rivers won’t suffer Fouts’ fate of being the best pro QB never to play in a Super Bowl.