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Chargers want Rivers to handle heavier load

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 23, 2007.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Little has come easily for the San Diego Chargers' franchise quarterback during his second season as starter. Philip Rivers has endured a controversial coaching change, inconsistent receivers, diminished pass protection and a knee injury -- all while digesting an expanded playbook.

    If he hasn't regressed in 2007, his statistics certainly have. But as the Chargers prepare to face Denver on "Monday Night Football" (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET), their offense is putting up 30 points per game over the last month. That includes 27.5 points per game against defenses that ranked among the NFL's top six heading into Week 16.Rivers must be doing something right.

    "He has really matured in a lot of ways," San Diego quarterbacks coach John Ramsdell said.

    With opponents focusing on LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates, the Chargers expect their quarterback to carry more of the load. The expectation seems reasonable; no player on the Chargers' roster entered the NFL as a higher draft choice.

    "Last year he made a big difference for us, but still it was LT and it was Gates," Ramsdell said. "People said, 'Hey, take away those guys and you've [solved] the Chargers.' We have to expand what we are doing. Philip has to be a bigger guy for us."

    The Chargers withheld some of their playbook last season because Rivers was starting for the first time since his days at North Carolina State. The coaching staff has given him more responsibility this season, with mixed results.

    Rivers finished last season with 22 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 92.0 rating. He has only three more touchdown passes (18) than interceptions (15) this season. His rating improved to a still-pedestrian 80.0 after a 51-14 victory over Detroit last week.

    Rivers, who turned 25 this month, might remain stronger on intangibles than the finer points of executing the position.

    "His strength is he is an outstanding leader and he can get people to play for him and he can run the show," Ramsdell said.

    The Chargers saw glimpses last season when Rivers led the NFL in fourth-quarter passer rating.

    Guts and clutch third-down conversions defined Rivers during an overtime victory at Tennessee two weeks ago. Rivers' overall numbers were shaky -- 21 of 40 passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions -- but they were also an incomplete measure of his performance.

    The Titans, arguably the NFL's most physical team on defense, knocked Rivers from the game in the second quarter. Rivers returned to convert three third-down plays during the tying drive late in regulation. His 2-yard scoring pass to Gates forced overtime. From there, Rivers found Gates for a key third-down conversion before Tomlinson's 16-yard touchdown run settled matters. The Chargers considered the performance a significant test because the game meant so much to the Titans.

    General manager A.J. Smith described Rivers as mentally strong and talented enough to carry an offense at times. He also saw Rivers as grounded to the point that large sums of money wouldn't affect the quarterback's approach.

    "There are a number of games a year ago where he made great strides in the fourth quarter and you say, 'Boy, I think that guy is special,' " Smith said. "There have been a couple this year, Tennessee being one, where I feel very strong about it.

    "I look down the road with us trying to build a championship team and with him being so young and being a part of it."

    Scouts, opposing coaches and opposing players have described Rivers as a somewhat streaky passer with strong leadership abilities and good, but not exceptional physical skills. They have praised him for getting the ball to the Chargers' best players in critical situations.

    Earlier in the season, a scout wondered if the Chargers' lack of weaponry at receiver had caught up to Rivers. That assessment might be outdated.

    Smith acquired veteran receiver Chris Chambers from Miami in mid-October. Chambers has 209 yards receiving over the Chargers' last three games, compared to 64 yards for Gates. Tomlinson has 439 yards rushing and five rushing touchdowns over that span, with 146 yards during the victory at Tennessee. The Chargers (9-5) clinched a second consecutive AFC West title last week. They might need to keep winning to lock down the No. 3 seed, which could spare San Diego from a first-round playoff matchup with surging Jacksonville, the likely No. 5 seed.

    The Jaguars held off the Chargers last month, picking off Rivers late in the game to preserve a 24-17 home victory. Rivers' inexperience, coupled with the broader urgency created by a quick playoff exit last season, gives San Diego another reason to strive for momentum heading into the playoffs.

    The Broncos (6-8), though capable with Jay Cutler under center, might be the right opponent at the right time. In three career starts against the Broncos, Rivers has completed 70 percent of his passes for 771 yards, with six touchdowns and two interceptions. San Diego has outscored the Broncos 124-50 in those games, all Chargers victories. Rivers completed 72 percent of his passes while averaging 15 yards per attempt during a 41-3 victory at Denver in Week 5. The Broncos could be looking toward next season.

    "It's a good challenge for us to at least finish the season on a positive note and have a chance with players that haven't played a lot to see what they can do," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.

    The Chargers can't relax, however. Division winners are 2-2 this season in games played one week after clinching. The Seahawks lost in Carolina a week after Seattle clinched the NFC West. Dallas lost at home to Philadelphia after winning the NFC East. Even New England nearly lost one week after clinching the AFC East, rallying to beat the Eagles late last month.

    The Chargers, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay clinched in Week 15.

    Rivers expects to play a full game, if necessary, even though he missed practice time to rest the knee. Playing hurt comes with the job. Playing well when hurt requires something extra.

    "These couple days off have really helped, and having the extra day before we play [helps]," Rivers told reporters in San Diego. "It shouldn't be a problem this week."

  2. foober

    foober BoltTalker

    Aug 17, 2006
    Its all about the o-line pass blocking better. They give rivers time and he'll kill opposing teams.:yes: And we'll win our first super bowl.

    Fundementals, mcneil, goff, hardwick, dielman, and clary. Fundamentals. Keep your feet underneath you with quick short steps and punch the opposing rusher like a sledge hammer.
  3. AnteaterCharger

    AnteaterCharger Carpe Diem et omni Mundio Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

    Jan 19, 2006
    thats part but its apparent that Rivers has gotten out of that funk that plagued him most of this year and late last year. As such its time for him to take that other step and become dangerous in his own right
  4. foober

    foober BoltTalker

    Aug 17, 2006
    When you have pass rushers getting to you within 2+ seconds your not going to do well. Not even if your joe montana or jon unitas.

    Its gonna be all about the o-line pass blocking. Whether we win a super bowl this year.:yes:
  5. bigmike.x.09

    bigmike.x.09 Well-Known Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    simple explanation. rivers was going through QB puberty. he hit his "akward years". but hes approaching "17-19"

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

    Jul 11, 2006
    Rivers needs to step it up a notch with his play going into the playoffs. I would hope that by now he understands the play book along with his receivers. It they get in sync watch out, they will score points like **** going through the Christmas Goose.:icon_eek:
  7. OverVolt

    OverVolt BoltTalker

    May 30, 2007
    Great editorial on Rivers, and seems right on!
    We all realize he's struggled this year, more than last...but as Foob's says, this O-line was also struggling early this year. So give Rivers an O-line that can give him that extra second, add in a second go to WR and we see a big improvement.
    He's got two more "tune up" games", if he stays on track, this offense will do damage in the playoffs.
  8. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    Forget not the field position we often get to work from. ST's get some credit here as well. This whole team is improved over the course of the season. While Rivers has begun to look better, he still hasn't taken that full step up to the next level yet. When he does, watch out. If he does it for these playoffs, then we go to the big dance.
  9. TBF

    TBF BoltTalker

    Jul 12, 2007
    Speaking Mechanically and not statistically, Rivers has had one good game and that was last week v Detroit. He stepped into a number of throws and looked poised in the pocket....

    Previously he has looked good on plays here and there IMO. He is still our guage and as he goes, so go the Chargers.

  10. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    With adequate protection, he makes the plays. If he makes plays, defenses have to back off LT. When LT gets room, points hit our side of the board. When we score more than our opponents, we win.

    Simple formula. :lol:
  11. VikingBolt

    VikingBolt BoltTalker

    Oct 8, 2006
  12. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    PR took a step back last night.


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