Chargers History

Which coach did Philip Rivers play the best football under?

By Ross Litscher
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers v Oakland Raiders
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers v Oakland Raiders / Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
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Marty Schottenheimer
Marty Schottenheimer, Arizona Cardinals v San Diego Chargers / Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Head Coach #1: Marty Schottenheimer (2002-2006): 14-3 with Philip Rivers starting

Offensive Coordinator: Cam Cameron (2002-2006)

Marty Schottenheimer was Philip Rivers' first NFL coach when he was traded to the Chargers on draft night in 2004. Rivers sat behind Drew Brees for his first two years in the NFL and was given the starting job for the 2006 season after Brees signed with the New Orleans Saints.

That 2006 season ended up being the best regular season in Chargers history, as the team went a franchise-best 14-2. This was mainly because of RB LaDainian Tomlinson's record-breaking season. He won the NFL MVP award after scoring 28 rushing touchdowns (31 total touchdowns), which are both still NFL records to this day.

Rivers had a solid season as well; throwing for 3,388 yards, 22 touchdowns, and earning himself a pro bowl selection in the process. The Chargers led the NFL in points per game (30.7), were top 5 in every major rushing category, and were 4th in the NFL in total offensive yards. Despite the Bolts' regular-season success and dominant offense in 06, they were heartbroken in the playoffs because of an "unfortunate" error by DB Marlon McCree.

Despite Spanos announcing that Marty would return for the 2007 season, he was shockingly fired on February 12, 2007. The tension between Spanos and Schottenheimer could be traced back to a lot of reasons.

From Marty's history of early playoff exits to Spanos being unhappy that coordinators Cam Cameron and Wade Phillips left for head coaching jobs (despite Marty not being able to prevent his staff from interviewing for other jobs).

Most Charger fans were (and still are) unhappy with the Schottenheimer firing, and what the combo of Rivers, Tomlinson, and the rest of those Charger teams could've done with Schottenheimer is one of the biggest "what ifs" in NFL history.

Offensive stats under Schottenheimer (2006): 47% pass plays, 53% run plays, Pass yards rank: 9th, Rush yards rank: 2nd, PPG rank: 1st