I could easily dig up ten comments made in the last month (some were made during the great Eli vs. Ben debate) that alluded to Phillip Rivers not being the real-deal. Rivers, Manning and Roethlisberger were the three prize QBs of the 2004 NFL draft of course, yet because of Roethlisberger's early success and Manning's recent emergence, Rivers is largely relegated to the sidelines when it comes to discussing who the best of the trio might be.
But I don't want to get into that again. Let's simply take a look at how the San Diego Chargers and Phillip RIvers have done in the passing game this year.
|2008 - Philip Rivers||9||106.3||149||234||63.7||2354||261.6||8.7||21||8||10||7||.9||0.7||0||10||67|
|vs CAR / 9.7.08||Passing||Rushing|
|vs DEN / 9.14.08||Passing||Rushing|
|vs NYJ / 9.22.08||Passing||Rushing|
|vs OAK / 9.28.08||Passing||Rushing|
|vs MIA / 10.5.08||Passing||Rushing|
|vs NEP / 10.12.08||Passing||Rushing|
|vs BUF / 10.19.08||Passing||Rushing|
|vs NOS / 10.26.08||Passing||Rushing|
|vs KAN / 11.9.08||Passing||Rushing|
|1st Down %||41.5||1st|
We'll get into the particulars of San Diego's offense later today and this week, but a couple of thoughts about Rivers and the SD offense.
We all know that LaDanian Tomlinson is having a down year. If you got him in the Top 5 of your Fantasy League, you're likely in bad shape. Early on, the chatter was about him not getting enough carries. Frankly, I don't think that's a good argument. In fact, Rivers should probably be getting even more passing attempts per game. That 8.7 YPA is a sweet number, yet Rivers' 30 Attempts/Game are only the 20th most in the league. Something doesn't quite make sense there.
Don't let the 4-5 record fool you too much. The defense hasn't held up its end of the bargain for most of the year, hence the firing of DC Ted Cottrell a few weeks ago. In the Chargers' first two games of the year, they lost on the very last play of the game. Both times, the defense was on the field last, not the offense. In those two losses, Rivers had monster games, throwing for 594 yards, 6 TDs, and just 1 INT. Really, he's only played poorly in two games this year: against BUF and MIA. He turned it over 3 times (1 INT, 2 FUM) against Buffalo despite completing 22/29 passes. And vs Miami, he completed just 46.4% of his passes. Other than that, he's been basically lights out.
My fear is that the Chargers will essentially abandon the running game for a large part of this football game. The Chargers should be passing more given the growing sample size of data suggesting they're quite good when they do. Our pass defense has continued to find ways to hold up under extreme pressure, but with DeShea and B-Mac both out this week, could this be the week that they finally crack under pressure?
- Even with those two last second losses (plus another close late loss to NO due to their defense), and a very poor defense thus far (26th YPG, 32nd Pass) the Chargers are still a very dangerous team because of their passing game. They have the 6th most passing yards/game, while giving up the 8th fewest sacks (11).
We can very well win this football game if we can get things going through the air against a very soft SD pass defense. It's fairly tough to run against them, but there's lots to be had through the air. Let's hope Bruce Arians continues to script successful early drives, then does a better job adjusting to whatever SD throws at us as a counter-punch. This one could turn into a little bit of a shootout - certainly high 20s for both teams wouldn't surprise me. We'll see. The Chargers do a good job of protecting Rivers, and he's pretty competent at getting the ball out of his hand on time, but he'll be facing a pass rush that's more intense than what he usually sees, especially in AFC West contests.
I'll end by saying Rivers is a great competitor. He acts like a pompous jerk sometimes out there, at least he did earlier in his career, but it's just a product of him having a little fire in his belly. Nothing wrong with that if you're a Chargers fan. What it means for us is that the Chargers will likely continue playing to the level of their opponent. They have played well against some good teams, and miserably against some mediocre teams. I imagine this one, like most all our games lately, will be a close one and decided down the stretch.