Through team injuries, holdouts, weird penalty calls, as well as the fall of his contemporaries, Philip Rivers is playing incredibly well.
Rivers is underappreciated. Chargers fans know this and know it’ll probably remain that way unless he finds a way to win a Super Bowl. However, this season, it feels like he’s been lost among the variety of storylines that surround the Chargers. But, his play has been truly great in carrying the offense.
The primary storyline for the Chargers is the injuries, unfortunately. To focus specifically on Rivers, just look at the offensive side of the ball right now. Justin Jackson, Hunter Henry, Mike Williams, Travis Benjamin, Virgil Green, Sean Culkin, and Dontrelle Inman are all injured at the moment.
That’s before even getting to the fact that Melvin Gordon’s holdout just ended and left tackle Russell Okung still has a few weeks until he might return. The injuries on offense have been nothing short of devastating, and that’s before even talking about the ravaged state of the defense.
The injuries aren’t just limited to the offense or defense either-special teams have even been affected. Kicker Mike Badgley is still dealing with a groin injury, and Ty Long has played kicker in his absence.
He’s played efficiently for the most part, other than Week 2 against the Detroit Lions. The kicking carousel will continue though as the Chargers want to give Long some rest. The job is now held by kicker Chase McLaughlin, signed this week.
The Chargers have wasted Rivers’ offensive performances in previous seasons with poor special teams, and now driving down the field, they can’t totally depend on the kicker until Badgley returns.
Had someone told me all of this information through four weeks prior to the start of the season, I’d assume that Rivers to some extent would have declined from last season with the pieces around him being wrecked by injury.
The reality is he may be playing even better. Through four weeks, he sits at a 69.4 completion percentage, 1,254 yards, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions. He’s also throwing for 313.5 yards per game, the highest mark of his career.
Rivers’ performance while the team deals with large-scale injuries also comes at a time where some of his quarterback contemporaries have fallen. Eli Manning is on the bench in what’s likely his last season, Ben Roethlisberger is injured for the entire 2019 season, Drew Brees is dealing with a thumb injury and Nick Foles broke his collarbone in Week 1.
Andrew Luck even retired before the season because of constant injury rehabilitation. Rivers’ ability to stay on the field is unparalleled in the current league, and his consecutive starts streak is now second only to Brett Favre. Availability and consistency from a starting quarterback is such an important asset.
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It’s also fair to say Rivers is doing things he hasn’t normally done before to adapt to the current situation. His passing touchdowns last week to Troymaine Pope and Austin Ekeler scrambling around and waiting for the play to develop were examples of that. Also, like his famous playoff run to pick up the first down against the Baltimore Ravens, he’s used his legs a bit more often this year to pick up first downs in multiple games.
Rivers may throw an ill-advised pick every now and then like he did at the end of the game vs. Detroit. But he’s absolutely been the stabilizing force this team has needed to just stay above water with all the current injuries.
His resilience in still playing like he’s in his prime while the league is shifting toward very young quarterbacks as the old guard falls is inspiring. Through team injuries, holdouts, father time, and many other factors, Rivers has led the team valiantly so far this season and doesn’t receive the attention he should for it.