The Los Angeles Chargers have crashed and burned in 2019 and Philip Rivers may be the main reason for that.
Rivers has been the team’s starting quarterback since 2006 and though he’s never taken the Chargers to the promised land, the team and its fans have always been ultra-confident in having No. 17 leading the charge.
Many teams around the league have a quarterback who they just hope can “manage the game” and not screw things up. Now, it seems that Rivers is fitting into that category.
When this season began, fans were wondering if the Chargers could get two or three more years out of Rivers, who will celebrate his 38th birthday as the Chargers travel to face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Now, those same fans are wondering if he’ll even finish this season as the team’s starter.
Rivers has given the team reason to be anything but confident this season as he has thrown 17 touchdown passes but also 15 interceptions. Most of those picks have come at crucial times as the team has been trying to rally for a last-minute win, almost like clockwork.
The Chargers were 12-4 last season and beat up on the same Baltimore Ravens team that has taken the league by storm this year in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Now, the team is 4-8 and fans are talking about who to take in the first round of the draft rather than the playoffs.
Why has the team fallen so far as compared to last year? Injuries and the offensive line are usually the place where many fans want to place blame, but the poor, inconsistent play of the team’s long-time quarterback is the main reason this team won’t go to the postseason this year.
And that’s not easy to say.
Rivers has been one of the best players in franchise history and the best quarterback the team has ever had. He is the league’s active leader in consecutive starts and he wants to win it all as much as anyone. If he is your favorite NFL player ever, that’s not something to suddenly be ashamed of, it is something to be incredibly proud of.
But if this is how it ends, and it is sure starting to look like it could be, how will Rivers be remembered?
Will he be remembered for all those touchdown passes or all of the games he started in a row? In 20 years, will fans still recall the effort he played with, his passion for the game, his leadership and the way he could read a defense, or will they talk about how he puttered out in 2019 and never won a Super Bowl?
It’s the cruel reality of the NFL. If you never win the Super Bowl, they don’t want to talk about you with the greats. If you win a bunch of them, such as Tom Brady, they call you the best quarterback of all-time.
So, to ask the question again, which side of the fence will Rivers fall on?
He hasn’t won the Super Bowl and he’s not going to this year either, but there is almost no doubt that he gave everything he had to the effort to get that Lombardi Trophy, literally leaving it all on the field. Who knows, maybe if Marlon McCree doesn’t fumble in 2006 or he doesn’t play on a torn ACL in 2008 the lack of a Super Bowl win is a much different conversation.
Football is the ultimate team sport and Rivers has experienced a series of both highs and lows. But if he is going to be knocked for those lows, he has to be congratulated for the highs.
It’s easy to view this with the recency bias that he is failing miserably this season, but that doesn’t mean all of his accomplishments have been tarnished. It’s easy to say the Chargers would do this or do that with (insert another quarterback’s name here), but the team could have done a hell of a lot worse than having Rivers as its quarterback.
He has been everything the team could have ever hoped he would be. Let’s all keep that in mind as we clamor for the Tyrod Taylor era to begin.