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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Norv Turner
Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers v New York Jets / Al Pereira/Getty Images

Head Coach #2: Norv Turner (2007-2012): 59-43 with Philip Rivers starting

Offensive Coordinators: Clarence Shelmon (2007-2011), Hal Hunter (2012)

Norv Turner was hired on February 19, 2007; just one week after Marty Schottenheimer was unexpectedly fired. Turner began his tenure with very high expectations, given that most of the team that went 14-2 a year ago were back.

The Chargers offense picked up pretty much where they left off, as they remained in the top 5 in points per game every year from 2007-2009. Rivers had a slight drop-off in his second season as a starter, but came back to lead the NFL with 34 touchdown passes in 2008 and made the Pro Bowl in 2009.

Tomlinson had another solid year in 2007, rushing for 1474 yards and 15 touchdowns, but this would be the last time for a while that a Philip Rivers team would dominate on the ground. The Chargers released longtime FB Lorenzo Neal after the 2007 season and in 2008 they went from being in the top 10 of every major rushing category to being 19th or worse in rush attempts, yards, and touchdowns, and yards per carry in 2008.

These numbers got worse in 2009, as the Chargers O-line struggled with injuries all year. Tomlinson was bothered by an ankle injury for a portion of the year, leading to only 730 rushing yards in 09, the first time in his career he had been held under 1,000 yards for a season. Tomlinson left the team after the 2009 season and from this point on Rivers' passes per game went way up.

In 2010 the Chargers were top 10 in that category for the first time in Rivers' career. The Bolts ended up having the number 1 offense (and defense) in the NFL that year, but missed the playoffs due to terrible special teams play. In 2011 the Chargers offense once again scored a lot of points (25.3 PPG, 6th in the NFL) but once again missed the playoffs, this time due to injuries and turnovers.

The offense struggled in 2012 after OC Clarence Shelmon retired after the 2011 season. In 2012 the Chargers scoring dipped to 20th in the NFL, the first time in Rivers career that his offense was outside the top 6 in points per game. It was also the first time since 2007 that Rivers wasn't at least top 6 in the NFL in passing yards.

Norv Turner was fired at the end of the 2012 season and Rivers was onto his third head coach in 8 years.

Offensive stats under Turner: 54% pass plays, 46% run plays, Highest pass yards rank: 1st (2010), Highest rush yards rank: 7th (2007), Highest PPG rank: 2nd (2008 & 2010)