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A Ball Watchers Guide to: Philip Rivers

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Jul 16, 2009.

  1. robdog
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    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    By Curtis Egan (Concudan)
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    <strong>

    <div class="alignright"></strong><strong><a href="http://blog.ingamenow.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/34886_600w600h.jpg"><img title="Philip Rivers" src="http://blog.ingamenow.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/34886_600w600h.jpg" alt="Philip Rivers" width="205" height="160" /></a></strong></div>

    The date was April 24, 2004. Then NFL Commissioner, Paul Tagliabue Strode to the podium at Madison Square Garden, where the NFL Draft was being held. Charger fans were on the Edge of their seats. The San Diego Chargers had the first pick after a heartbreaking 2003 season.

    Charger fans knew that the pick would not be Eli Manning, the person who's family had publicly spurned the Chargers, the Organization, and the City. They had through the media prior to the draft told the Chargers in no uncertain terms that a Manning would not play for them. This infuriated Charger fans. Ball Watchers and Football Mensa's alike.

    So There was an air of excitement, the Commissioner had a crooked smile on his face as he said "<em>With the first pick of the 2004 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers pick-..</em>" Anticipation, who did we take? A big snot knocking Linebacker? The next Jamal Williams? Or perhaps they parleyed the pick into many other picks- What was it? "<em>Eli Manning- blah blah blah-.</em>"

    WHAT?! Eli *Bleeping* Manning?! You are kidding me! Queue picture of Eli pouting on stage holding a Chargers jersey with a number 1 on it. Queue picture of this Charger fan resisting the urge to throw something through his TV screen.

    Well as history would pan out, just two picks later, The New York Giants take Quarterback Philip Rivers from North Carolina State. Then it happen, with another crooked smile The Commissioner announces that the Giants and Chargers have swapped draft picks.

    Ok, Ok, I know, you have all seen this before. You know the history, but come on, let me set the mood here. So the Chargers get a new Quarterback, queue picture of the then incumbent Quarterback Drew Brees chewing nails. Because this draft pick must have spoken volumes to him. In fact it did. He was on many of the Sports talk shows between training camp and the start of the 2004 season Brees talked many times about the pick of the player that he would come to call a ‘good friend'.

    This set of a firestorm of feuds on the on-line forums that came to be known as the Great Brees Vs. Rivers wars. You had one camp, bolstered by a plethora of new Charger fans who followed the gritty gun slinger Quarterback from his days with the Wolfpack at North Carolina State. The other was backed by hard headed fans who thought that the incumbent Brees needed better receivers, and protection. As it turned out, both were correct.

    <strong>2004 </strong>in a nutshell proved to be a banner year for Brees. He was able to maintain the starting position because due to a prolonged contract negotiation, Rivers was not able to join the team until the final season of training camp. This gave Brees motivation and time, the turned it into a 27 touchdown season and set the stage for a showdown in the 2005 training camp.

    That show down arrived, as on a early morning in 2005 I stood next to a fence at the Chargers practice facilities and watched the camp. My first impressions were not good. Rivers overthrew receivers; he even threw a few balls into the ground. His pre-season was not much better. At that point, being a stout member of the pig headed Brees alliance (PHBA for short). I was not happy and the forum flame wars continued unabated for the whole 2005 season. That said in the final game of the 2005 Season, Brees suffered a severe injury to his shoulder, that is where we actually start this guide, at the ‘Rise of Rivers'.

    The Chargers decided not to renew Brees' contract in 2006, handing the reigns of the franchise to Rivers. The PHBA was devastated and continued guerilla posting attacks on the River's factions. Through training camp, Preseason and the beginning of the regular season this was the case. Then the PHBA began to dissolve. The play of Rivers began to shine. His completion percentage and gutsy play in college brought many new shining fans to the throng of rabid Charger fans. But just five games into his first season as starter, Philip Rivers was named the second best Quarterback under 25 by Sports Illustrated. Some compared him with NFL past greats such as Dan Morino, John Elway and Joe Montana.

    It was a rocky start though, no matter how well the season would turn out. For his first game starting, against the Raiders, I was in attendance at the stadium and I was infuriated with the fact that in the entire game he was allowed to throw only 11 passes. I went against my ball watching nature and disregarded the fact that he had a passer rating of 133.9 after that game, which led the NFL, and called for the coaching staff to unleash their your gun. Yes, there was still a smidge of PHBA in me at that time-

    However, then came the 5th game of the 2006 season. The Pittsburgh Steelers rolled into town and their smash mouthed defense focused on stopping stellar all pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson, something in large they did. But that also allowed the ‘leash' to be snapped and Rivers stepped up and led the Chargers through that game. The Chargers found themselves down to the defending Superbowl Champions, and it was Rivers who drug the team to victory (per the words of this reformed PHBA member). He threw for nearly 250 yards that day and led the Chargers to an impressive 23-13 victory, in a game that caused this card carrying member of PHBA to post publicly that I was wrong about Rivers- The Steelers wanted to force Rivers to beat them and they got their wish.

    That season saw two back to back comebacks against the Bengals and Broncos, all engineered by Rivers. While Brees was shining in New Orleans, his memory was being eclipsed in San Diego by the new leader of the Chargers offense.

    <strong>In 2007 the Chargers hired Norv Turner </strong>to be head coach of the Chargers. Rivers under the tutelage of one of the best offensive minds in the game lead the Chargers, limping into the AFC Championship game.

    2008 saw Rivers climb to new heights as a field general, eclipsing Dan Fouts' touchdown record, leading the league with 34 touchdowns (tied with Drew Brees of all people), while leading the league with a 105.5 passer rating. Rivers took over as the true leader of the offense, and Tomlinson was hobbled and slowed for the season. Yes, Rivers has enjoyed his best statistical season in the 3rd year he threw for 4,009 yards with only 11 interceptions (65.3 percent completion rate).

    OK, so that is the history, what is the point to all of this? I am glad you asked.

    Rivers has shown himself to be a talented field general that can inspire the players around him to never say die. To keep fighting until the final snap and do it with emotions. However, Rivers himself admits that spending two years behind Brees has helped him. He admitted that the transition from college to the NFL would not have been as smooth. He said, "<em>Coming out of college I thought I was ready to play, but after those two seasons I was way better off than if I came in as a rookie.</em>" He went on to say "<em>I remember in OTAs during my rookie season I didn't throw a couple passes because I thought the guy was covered, and Coach (Cam) Cameron would stop everything and come over and say ‘That guy's wide open.' He looked covered to me-.The windows you have to fit balls in are a lot more precise at this level.</em>"

    Rivers has been accused of having a mouth on him, and has been know to playfully yell at the fans. It is rumored that during the 2006 comeback against the Bengals Rivers was yelling "<em>Yall didn't think we were out of this!</em>" In fact he has been known to jaw with the fans and other players. Rivers took a big media hit when he was caught on camera telling Jay Cutler, then Quarterback of the division rival Denver Broncos "<em> Bye bye baby!</em>" The sports media did not take that well and besmirched River, whom they touted as immature. What they failed to see was the body language of Cutler whose head was bobbing back and forth like a ‘weeble wobble' (Google it-) on steroids, his hips titled out as if he was a three year old mouth back silently to their parents. So Cutler by all accounts was jawing back, in a not so friendly manner, but I digress again, as a card carrying member of Ball Watchers Anonymous (Hi, my name is Concudan), I need to focus on the screen and not think too much-

    Anyway, that was 2006, in 2007 Rivers did a lot to change people's opinions about him. His gutsy performance, leadership on the field and likeable personality did just that. Many forgot about the ‘hollerin' at fans, and jawing with Cutler.

    So Rivers proved to me to be the leader the Chargers needed. Now lest you think that I have fully abandoned my PHBA ways, there are some things I would like to see him do better.

    <strong>Hitting the Receiver in Stride:</strong> Turner brought with him a stretch the field style offense that has served the Chargers well. River has a good down the field game, but it is not ‘great'. Too many time his receivers have to jump for the ball, where if they caught the pass in stride the play most likely would result in a touchdown. Don't get me wrong. I love the down the field passes and the Polaroid moment of players like Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson laying out and pulling in the pass. But I am so much more enamored whith Jackson catching the ball in stride and taking it to the end zone. So while now, Rivers is good, with a bit more work, I think he could be great.

    <strong>Throwing to the outside:</strong> In my opinion this has not been where he is at his best as a Quarterback. He is a straight down the field passer, going to the sidelines is something he needs to work on.

    <strong>Speed:- </strong> Ok, forget it, the man runs like a pregnant Sasquatch- No helping that.

    <strong>Handoffs:</strong> I am a fan of play action pass, but Rivers does not sell it well to me. It has worked, but from my point of view, in front of my TV, it appears that the defenses can read and react quickly to Rivers' attempts to fake the hand offs.

    Now if those are all of his problems, he aint half bad, in fact he is more than 3 quarters good. Yeah, he is good.

    <strong>Ball Watcher <em>noun</em></strong> (as defined by Shamrock)
    1. Those fans that stare down the QB at the snap of the ball (whether watching on TV or at the stadium). They don't see the coverage, the DL/LB alignment, the offensive formation, or other nuances of the game.

    2. After the snap, those same fans simply follow the ball. Pulls, traps, OL slides, secondary coverage's, etc, all are foreign concepts to them.

    3. Advanced ball watchers become stat reading ball watchers. The "dirty" work, done by players in the trenches, or run support CB's, escape those fans knowledge of the game.

    4. Only skill position players (i.e. those that generate stats) are important to ball watchers.

    5. Concudan

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