Greg Gabriel of the National Football Post gave us a preview of the 2014 San Diego Chargers. What he said about quarterback Philip Rivers baffled me.
“With this being his 12th season in the NFL, I don’t see him getting any better than he already is. Still, his play is good enough to lead the Chargers to the playoffs. I just don’t see him as a Super Bowl-type quarterback.”
Oh Greg..really? Not a “Super Bowl-type” quarterback? Wherefore art thou such blasphemous words?
Let’s get this straight. Here is a quarterback who..
- Has started and played every regular season game since 2006
- Led the league in touchdowns (34) in 2008
- Had the highest yards per attempt three straight years (2008-10)
- Ranked in the top three in total QBR twice (2009 and 2013)
- Led the league in yards (4,710) in 2010
- Led the league in completion rate (69.5) in 2013
- Had four games with 390-or-more yards passing in 2013, tied with Dan Marino (1984) and Joe Montana (1990) for the most in a season in NFL history.
- Led his team to five winning seasons against one losing season (7-9 in 2012)
- Made five Pro Bowls
- Has six straight 25 touchdown seasons, becoming the third QB in NFL history to do so (along with Peyton Manning and Drew Brees)
- Has never thrown for under 3,000 yards since becoming a starter (five years with +4,000 yards)
I didn’t even mention Rivers playing with a partially torn ACL in the AFC Championship against the 17-0 Patriots, landing him at No. 8 on NFL Network’s top ten gutsiest performances. He put his career on the line for a chance to lead the Chargers to its second ever Super Bowl appearance.
And yet all the above doesn’t make you a Super Bowl-type quarterback!? Come on now.
The most clutch QB last season? Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers. Rivers was more than a half deviation from the mean in every category, and that includes his four fourth-quarter comebacks and four game-winning drives last season. He was remarkably efficient in the two-minute offense (100.7 passer rating vs. a league average of 76.6) while averaging 8.8 yards per passing attempt on third downs (103.8 passer rating). – Neil Greenberg, The Washington Post
I understand what hurts Rivers’ credibility: his playoff record. He did lead the Chargers to the playoffs in 2006-09 and 2013, but he finishes with a record of 4-5 including two one-and-done playoff appearances. In those nine games, Rivers has thrown 11 touchdowns against nine interceptions. In four of those games, he ended with a quarterback rating of 100. Of those games, the Chargers only came away with two victories. It puts in perspective that all of these losses don’t necessarily fall on Rivers (contrary to many opposing fans).
What if Peyton Manning never won?
Before coming to the Denver Broncos, Manning led the Colts to 11 playoff berths (nine straight from 2002-10). In that span, he helped guide them to two Super Bowl appearances and one championship (2006). My point is that even if he didn’t win a championship, he would still go down as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. The Super Bowl ring only ADDS to his accomplishments.
But if people are basing Rivers’ career off playoff losses (making him not a Super Bowl-type QB), it’s just not right. What if Manning never won a ring with Indianapolis? Would he not be considered a Super Bowl-type quarterback? Manning is 11-12 in the playoffs with EIGHT one-and-done appearances in his 16-year career (including his time with the Broncos). He has always been stellar in the regular season boasting a 167-73 record, but struggled in the playoffs.
In 15 seasons (excluding 2011 when he was injured), Manning only has one ring. For a quarterback of his stature you’d expect a few more championships. And you can’t say he didn’t have any talent around him during his time with the Colts..Edgerrin James/Joseph Addai, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Dallas Clark, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.
I’m pointing that out because when I hear, “Rivers had all the talent in the world around him in 2006-2010 and he couldn’t do anything,” it’s a ridiculous statement. I guess Marlon McCree fumbling the ball after an interception in the 2006 divisional game against the Patriots (which led to a loss) was Rivers’ fault. Or the fact that the Chargers’ best player in LaDainian Tomlinson got hit with the injury bug during majority of the playoffs. Oh wait wait, I have another one! When Rivers helped lead the Chargers to the No. 1 overall offense in 2010 (with the team No. 1 overall in defense as well), and what kept them out of the playoffs was horrendous play from special teams..but let’s put that one on Rivers, too.
All in all, I truly believe there is no such thing as a Super Bowl-type quarterback. If there were, then quarterbacks like Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson wouldn’t have rings. Dilfer did have an astonishing record (10-1 including the playoffs) when he took over as the starter for Tony Banks in 2000, but it was one good year; and the Ravens didn’t even bring him back the following year! If you want to talk statistics, Dilfer never even surpassed 3,000 yards in a single season. And Johnson..well he was wasn’t close to being an elite quarterback. He only played three full 16-game seasons and in 16 seasons, Johnson threw for 29,054 yards. In nine years (excluding 2004-05 when he sat behind Brees), Rivers has 32,369 yards (eighth on the active NFL list).
Here’s a list of the 10 worst Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. What’s dumbfounding is that these mediocre-to-below average quarterbacks have at least one ring, which is the same amount future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning has right now.
The list above shows the top 10 quarterbacks with the highest career QB rating. Besides Tony Romo, Philip Rivers is the ONLY other quarterback on the list who doesn’t have a ring.
To summarize everything in one sentence: Rivers won’t get any credit until he brings the Chargers to a Super Bowl–and wins the big game for that matter. He will be forever tied with 2004 fellow draftees Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, both of whom have two rings. Until then, many will perceive Rivers as an average-to-above average quarterback. It’s time to quiet the critics Rivers.
Rivers will begin the year in Arizona as the Chargers will face the Cardinals. Tickets are available from $48 and for fans willing to take a short flight down, Phoenix hotel deals from Hipmunk are available for as low as $69 a night.