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Rivers looks to fine-tune his short game

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    By Kevin Acee

    Union-Tribune Staff Writer
    7:29 p.m. July 27, 2009

    SAN DIEGO – Early this spring, Philip Rivers watched every one of his 2009 incompletions, all 166 of them.

    He weeded through the drops, the passes broken up by a good defensive play and the like, and he focused on his mistakes.

    “I'm talking times I flat-out missed,” he said. “Where I saw the guy, I thought he was open, I threw it, and I threw it incomplete.”

    He found a trend that troubled him.

    “The running back route, by far, was the route I missed more than any others,” he said Monday after the Chargers' first training camp workout. “ I'm working on being more efficient with our running backs.”

    While Rivers attempted and completed the second-most passes in the NFL to his running backs, the short and intermediate passes to his backs were not as crisp as they could have been.

    As preparations dawn for his sixth season in the NFL and fourth as a starter, Rivers is fine-tuning.

    “At this point, going into year six,” he said, “there shouldn't be anything big I've got to make better.”

    There isn't.

    Rivers led the league and set team records with a 105.5 passer rating and 34 touchdowns in 2008, and he still has never had a season as a starter end before the playoffs.

    His 33 victories in his first 48 starts ties him with John Elway for third-best in the modern era – behind Ben Roethlisberger's 35 and Dan Marino's 34. Rivers' 92.9 passer rating is bettered only by Marino, and his 2.16 touchdown-to-interception ratio is the best among qualifying passers in their first 48 starts.

    “I ultimately look at wins and losses,” Rivers said when asked to assess his career so far. “From that standpoint, it's been pretty positive. Ultimately, we haven't gotten to the top, but the first three years (starting) I feel like I'm still an ascending player. That being the case, I feel I've got a lot of room to improve. I feel like I've gotten better every year.”

    While he has yet to and might never again match the regular-season team success of his 14-2 debut season in 2006 that also featured a 92.0 rating with 22 touchdowns and just nine interceptions, Rivers has grown exponentially under Norv Turner.

    “It started halfway through (2007),” Turner said, recalling his first season as Chargers head coach and de facto offensive coordinator. “It was a transition from what he'd been asked to do and what we were asking him to do and making that adjustment. He had a really good command of what we're doing. But look at his numbers over the past (22 regular-season) games, and I think he's the most productive guy in the league.”

    It's true, Rivers' 102.3 rating in that span is better than anyone.

    “I've never believed much in (passer) rating until he led the league in it” Turner said. “Now I like the stat.”

    The formula, which takes into account attempts and completions, touchdowns, yards and interceptions, isn't a perfect ranking. But it aptly reflects what quarterbacks need to do best – throw the ball productively while limiting mistakes.

    The latter characteristic tops Rivers' to-do list for 2009.

    His otherwise splendid '08 was marred midseason by a stretch in which Rivers threw six interceptions in a four-game span. He was picked off only 11 times all season, but in those four games, he had three interceptions directly lead to defeats, including two in the fourth quarter deep in opposing territory in back-to-back losses to Buffalo and New Orleans.

    “That was one area that hurt us as a team,” Rivers said.

    He recalled, as an example, with crystal clarity the interception in London against the Saints.

    Third-and-15 at the Saints' 32-yard line, a minute and 18 seconds remaining, Saints ahead 37-30. Rivers forced a pass high to Chris Chambers, the ball went off Chambers' hands and into those of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma. Game over.

    “It's knowing (now) that if I get us to fourth-and-6 rather than trying We get to fourth-and-6, that whole playbook is back open,” Rivers said. “It's those critical mistakes and understanding the situation and not making those mistakes.”

    After that four-game stretch, Rivers was picked off only once in the regular season's final six games. His fourth-quarter passing rating in a 4-0 December and 1-1 playoff run was 119.8.

    “I think it got blown out of proportion, but he did have three or four really critical plays (last season),” Turner said. “When you have a critical play in the fourth quarter that keeps you from scoring a touchdown that might win the game, it should have great focus. But I think he's moved beyond those.

    “That's not to say he'll never have another one, because he will. But I think he's grown and understands how important every play is, and you really can't take a chance with the ball that's not high percentage. Like he should be, he's at a point in his career – he's played three full seasons – he should be playing at his best, and I think he can play better than he's played.”

    By fine-tuning.
  2. Charger Dave

    Charger Dave Dead account

    Apr 13, 2007
    It only gets better from here for PR... Hope his O-line can stay healthy and keep him upright. When they do the man is magic.
  3. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Norm Chow's prediction is overdue.

    Go get your ring, PR!! :tup:
  4. Ride The Lightning

    Ride The Lightning Join the Dark Side, we have cookies.

    Aug 15, 2006
    I love Philip Rivers.

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