Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is not done

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 07: Clelin Ferrell #96 of the Oakland Raiders sacks Philip Rivers #17 of the Los Angeles Chargers at RingCentral Coliseum on November 07, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 07: Clelin Ferrell #96 of the Oakland Raiders sacks Philip Rivers #17 of the Los Angeles Chargers at RingCentral Coliseum on November 07, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has been a hot topic among all media, and not for a good reason, with many talking about the end of his career. Here is why he is not done.

It’s been tough to watch the Chargers lately, and Rivers has been the primary culprit in recent losses. Seven interceptions in two games is not a good stat, and is a career-high for Rivers. Now, everywhere you see, the general consensus is that he is done.

Don’t be so sure, though.

A lot of Chargers fans and NFL analysts alike have been putting the blame on Rivers’  deteriorating arm. That is a very lazy excuse. The arm has very little to do with it. Has Rivers’ arm regressed? Yes, it has a bit. So has Brady’s and Brees’ arms. The key is that all three have adjusted to this, so let me repeat: Rivers’ arm deterioration is not a problem. It’s all mental.

There is good and bad news here. One, it’s bad that a veteran quarterback is allowing himself to become panicked in key moments. It’s bad that he is walking into pressure and making the offensive line look much worse than it is, and it’s bad that he is missing wide open reads and psyching himself out.

The good news? It’s mental. It can be fixed, and he has two weeks to fix it before the Chargers take on the Denver Broncos. So now you’re probably asking, “What makes you think he can fix this?” Well, that’s what this article is for! So let’s get into it by starting with an early play by Rivers that made you scratch your head.

#Chargers It's really weird to not hit your primary target when he is this wide open.

Also a lot of room to move and work with in such a clean pocket, could've bought a second or so more to hit Allen or Williams further downfield as well.

Pipkins and Quessenberry A+

— Jason Balliet II (@Syntari13) November 20, 2019

The second this angle showed on film, is the second your jaw drops and you just wonder, “What?” Rivers’ primary read here seems to be the safety on the left side of the screen, Daniel Sorensen. If Sorensen sits or creeps to the line of scrimmage, you throw the post route. If Sorensen drops back, you throw the crosser.

If you follow progressions from left to right, Hunter Henry is wide open across the middle from the get-go, right in front of Rivers’ face. Rivers missed him. Instead, Rivers doesn’t use the clean pocket to his advantage, climbing up into the pocket prematurely and causing pressure on himself. He is forced to check it down to Austin Ekeler.

Now, let’s back up a bit while keeping the topic firmly on this specific play. If Rivers doesn’t climb up, and even elects to take another step back, you’re looking at Williams actually beat Sorensen to the middle of the field. Williams does an excellent job of getting underneath Sorensen while the hips are turned, giving him separation.

The second Sorensen’s hips are turned inside, Rivers should’ve made an anticipation throw, giving Williams his first touchdown of the season. Rivers doesn’t make the throw.

Moving on to Henry. The second Rivers sees the safety sit, his next looks should be seeing the linebackers come toward the line of scrimmage at the same angle. When you get a reaction such as this when you have an inside route from your tight end that is designed to get behind these linebackers, then this should be a very easy, quick read. Now, Rivers does seem to look directly at Henry after the play is over, so you have to know he is already kicking himself.

Onto Allen. Allen is running a dig here, an intermediate route designed to cut sharply across the field after an aggressive break at the top of the route. Allen comes over the middle of the field, and if Rivers sits patiently the same way we talked about earlier with Williams, he can hit Allen for a catch and run.

So we went through all the bad. How can I possibly watch this play and say that Rivers isn’t done yet? Again, it’s all mental, and he has two weeks to sit in the film room and watch plays such as this. This is the kind of mistake he can bounce back from, whereas a deteriorating arm is not something that you can easily adjust to.

The best way to think of it is like this. If Rivers gets this same exact look against Denver, will he hit Williams or Henry? The answer is a pretty easy yes, because all he has to do is watch film and wait for that same look, assuming his head is clear and the panic is gone. Which, based on the last drive against the Kansas City Chiefs, seemed to be the case despite the interception.

Now, if it was his arm as the problem, you can look at a deep throw from two years ago and a deep throw now and say, “No, he can’t do that anymore.” This isn’t the case here, it’s just stuff he is missing. So there is the positive.

Moving on to the next play.

I've seen some point to Schofield's grade and say "He gave up the worst sack of the game!"

Pause at about the 3 1/2 second mark and you'll see a big problem here. There are two things to do.

1. Lob it to where only Ekeler has a chance2. Dont walk into pressure. Slide and climb

— Jason Balliet II (@Syntari13) November 20, 2019

Again, this is all mental. It has nothing to do with his mobility, athleticism or anything physical. Rivers is just panicked and steps into the pressure for no apparent reason. To try and find a good reason why, let’s try and take it step by step, lineman by lineman, to see what he did wrong and how he can fix it.

First, Trey Pipkins has the initial win on his pass block, on top of Dan Feeney moving over to help him in the case that the rusher uses an inside move, so Pipkins knows that he is allowed to overcompensate and protect the outside speed moves. With Feeney anchoring against the interior move, and no need to worry about a bull rush due to a double team, this is a secured rusher.

Next, you have Henry one on one with a defensive back on the backside. Henry is stronger, and at the same time is walking his man outside, so this is another secured blocker in multiple ways.

First, the defender is being walked backfield out of the play in the case that the quarterback steps up. Second, Henry is much stronger and bigger, which would make it hard for the defender to reverse it and make an inside move without being thrown off balance and therefore locked up.

Next up you have Scott Quessenberry, who has a good initial pop but then gets beat to this right. Quessenberry has a solid recovery here and also attains the help of Ekeler. With Ekeler checking the man there, you have another win, as it gives Quessenberry even more time to recover. Not to mention here, Rivers makes it hard on Quessenberry because he slides right, forcing Quessenberry to try and get all the way around to the other side of the defender.

Next you have Michael Schofield, who actually wins this rep. Yes, he won. The defender had no push and was forced to walk outside. Luckily for the defender, Rivers decided to walk right into his lane. That’s a shame, because Schofield is 100 percent doing his job this entire rep, and he is doing it perfectly. If you’re grading pass protection, Schofield would probably get a B+ to an A- here, so it’s a shame the sack is “on him”.

Lastly, you have Trent Scott, who doesn’t even give Frank Clark a chance here. Clark is held out bay, contained, and Scott isn’t even letting him walk outside. Scott gave up zero pressures in this game, and this rep just backs it up. He did a phenomenal job on Monday and proved that a week of practice at right tackle might have given him a future role as a Charger there.

So now, this makes Rivers look bad, and for good reason. It was not a good look, as he could easily have stayed put, or slid left and stepped up. He probably would’ve had two more seconds, allowing him to take the deep shot he wanted. Unfortunately, he just didn’t see it well and felt phantom pressure.

Now, why is this not as bad as it seems? Again, it’s mental. This is an easy fix. Rivers sees this on film, adjusts, gains confidence in his line, and this mistake probably isn’t made next game. This is why you can take a bit of a deep breath moving forward and go into the next game feeling better, not great, but better about Rivers that time around. A bye week can mean a lot, especially if you need a mental reset.

So, why am I suddenly confident in Rivers? Maybe I have to be. Maybe I just really want to be. Who knows? What I can tell you, is that seeing Rivers take a deep breath before unleashing that 50-yard deep ball to Williams, was what I needed to see as a Chargers fan to say, “He is going to be okay.”

That pocket movement? Here it is. Perfect. This is Philip Rivers. He was moving and he was calm, and he trusted in his offensive line.

Remember how he was seeing the field? He found the mismatch, it was the right matchup. Just didnt work. It happens.

Rivers can bounce back.

— Jason Balliet II (@Syntari13) November 20, 2019

Both these plays say enough to me. Rivers was back if only for a moment, he was back when it mattered. He calmed down, he understood that he was hurting the team, and he knew it needed him. He delivered, it just didn’t work out. Rivers will be fine, he is fine. With a full two weeks to regroup and recharge, I fully believe he will bounce back.

Los Angeles Chargers midseason 2020 mock draft. Next

Don’t give up on Rivers yet. He is not done, he still has more left in him, and I will be there to watch every mistake and every triumph until he decides to hang them up.