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Mightiest River West of the Mississippi

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Jul 2, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://croceonchargers.blogspot.com/2006/06/entry-4-mightiest-river-west-of.html">Croce on Chargers</a>

    By Ben Croce

    When Drew<a href="http://img60.imageshack.us/img60/6231/38pw.jpg"><img border="0" style="margin: 0pt 0pt 10px 10px; float: right; cursor: pointer; width: 170px" src="http://img60.imageshack.us/img60/6231/38pw.jpg" /></a> Brees mangled his shoulder on December 31, Charger fans silently screamed in agony along with their fallen hero. Brees carried the team to the playoffs in 2004 for the first time in a decade, but just as quickly as they breezed into town, they were gone again, eliminated in the first round like the postseason tourists the Bolts have always been. Though the playoff visit was brief, Cool Brees gave the team and fans alike a reason to believe they would get there again. And again. And again. And they will, but they will not make it there carried on Brees' stapled and uncertain shoulder.

    Instead, the Bolts look to their new QB of the future, 24 year old Philip Rivers. Rivers, who finished his record breaking college career with 51 starts, the MVP title in five bowl games (which included the Senior Bowl), and the title of second all time leading NCAA passer, was taken fourth in the 2004 draft in a blockbuster trade that sent first pick Eli Manning (and his daddy) to New York, and led Rivers to San Diego. Not bad for a kid from Athens, Alabama whose quirky side-arm throwing motion had many scouts and analysts concerned when he entered the 2004 NFL draft.

    When<a href="http://img332.imageshack.us/img332/3843/050102riversrunkc6vk.jpg"><img border="0" style="margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; float: left; cursor: pointer; width: 200px" src="http://img332.imageshack.us/img332/3843/050102riversrunkc6vk.jpg" /></a> General Manager AJ Smith drafted Rivers in 2004, it was expected that Rivers would be the Chargers' starting QB by season's end, if not its beginning. Unfortunately for Rivers, a contract hold out allowed Brees to retain his position as lead signal caller, and Rivers found his constantly-moving feet pacing the sidelines, hat backwards and clipboard in hand. But unlike other bonus babies, Rivers quietly bided his time, absorbing as much knowledge as he could while capitalizing on his practice time, occasionally acknowledging that he would one day be a league starter, even if it meant leaving San Diego in the deserving hands of Brees. The 2006 offseason was the predicted time for a contractual showdown between the two QBs: one eager to prove he deserved the reigns, and the other fighting to keep them.

    Unless you've been in Nambia for the last few months, you know the team now belongs to Rivers, a hyper kid whose youth betrays his immense maturity. Comparing Rivers with the other two QBs taken before and after him in the draft paints a small picture of the Bolts' new leader. Manning, whose prima donna antics caused him to announce he would sit out the 2004 season if the Chargers took him in the 2004 draft, still struggles to find his niche on his team and in his own locker room. Ben Roethlisberger, the third QB taken in the 2004 draft, currently sits at home recovering from a controversial motorcycle accident, one in which he rode without a license and while not wearing a helmet.

    While Manning and Roethlisberger continue to have growing pains, Rivers, who married his middle school sweetheart before he could legally take a sip of alcohol, eagerly anticipates the birth of his third daughter any day now. Though the three QBs are around the same age and entered the league at the same time, Rivers' maturity is unmatched by his peers. Though giving ultimatums may have ultimately handed Eli what he wanted, Rivers dealt with adversity the only way he knows how: working harder.

    His work ethic and maturity exist as two small facets of the gem that is Rivers the Leader. Don't let the fact that he is streaking down the sidelines, screaming encouragement at his teammates, fool you. His passionate and explosive leadership style has been known to motivate teammates even on their darkest days. The fact that he began spending time in the huddles of his dad's high school football practices at the age of five does not seem to hurt him either, as his knowledge of every position on the field allows him<a href="http://img66.imageshack.us/img66/8472/43ah1.jpg"><img border="0" style="margin: 0pt 0pt 10px 10px; float: right; cursor: pointer; width: 200px" src="http://img66.imageshack.us/img66/8472/43ah1.jpg" /></a> to not only have an incredible grasp on the entire play book, but also to make instantaneous adjustments at the line of scrimmage. This understanding of both offenses and defenses generally prevents him from making the same mistake twice in a game. Fool Rivers once, count yourself lucky. He will not be fooled again.

    While other QBs have greater arm strength than Rivers, his lightning fast release keeps him a step ahead of defenses, and that awkward side-arm motion? Well, it actually prevents him from being sacked for a loss on many occasions. Defenders find it tough to bring down the 6'5," 228 lb player, and while they are holding onto his knees desperately praying to topple him, Rivers is using his side arm release to dump the ball off before hitting the ground. That is, if the defenders get to him before he has gone through his progessions and accurately placed the ball exactly where he wants it, in the arms of a receiver and out of the secondary's reach.

    Rivers plays aggressively, competitively, and instinctively. His intelligence allows him to fully comprehend what he needs to accomplish in order to make the play. His diligence as a student of the game allows him to react instinctively instead hastily. His preparation shows on the field, whether he is getting his team lined up correctly or calling an audible at the line. All indications from the Chargers camp say that Rivers' new position as starter has only increased his work ethic, as he puts in extra practices with his receivers weekly, constantly striving to increase his professional and personal relationships with his teammates.

    In college, Rivers displayed an amazing talent for "knowing his place" on the field. In the NFL, he has strengthened his reputation by knowing his place off of it. His class, maturity and confidence, combined with his physical skills, intellect, and the two years he has spent learning the ropes, will finally put speculation to rest this fall. Rivers possesses an amazing hunger to prove himself to the league, the fans, and naysayers alike. While the majority of league insiders want to rain on the Lightning Bolts' off-season parade, Philip reminds us that nothing relishes the rain more than a raging River.

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