Monday, December 13, 2010

San Diego Chargers: Is Philip Rivers Getting Too Much Credit For Charger Wins?

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Philip Rivers is one of the more talented quarterbacks in the NFL. I'm not here to dispute that. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to give him just as much blame as credit.

I should tell you I was never sold on Philip Rivers right from the moment the team acquired him as a rookie out of North Carolina State. I knew his talent coming out of college but that talent does not always carry over to the NFL.

He's had some great years with San Diego and let then to some big years. But as many games as he might have won for the Chargers, he's also been the one to blame for making stupid decisions and losing games they never should have lost.

We won't go back to the past as I don't want to talk about previous years, just this year.

As I was scouring the internet this morning checking up on the NFL games from yesterday, wanting to see how certain teams did, I came across this article from Yahoo Sports' Michael Silver talking about Rivers' heavy burden he's apparently carrying around this year.

At one point very early on in the article Silver says, "If Rivers doesn’t bring his “A” game, the 2010 Chargers usually fail."

The first time I saw that line, I wondered if Silver had really looked into this season and the numbers behind some of the games the Chargers had both won and lost. Then I realized, when you use the word 'usually' it will normally give you some wiggle room.

Good choice of words.

When I went back to do my own research earlier in the year I started noticing a pattern which has continued through most of this season. That pattern was the different between the pass attempts by Rivers and the rushing attempts by the Charger running backs.

What emerged was a pattern of games won and games lost based on Rivers trying to do it all or Rivers letting his teammates help out.

Through 13 games, the Chargers hold a 7-6 record going into their game this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers, needing yet another win to keep themselves in playoff contention.

The Chargers are 6-1 in games they run the ball more times than Rivers has pass attempts. When Rivers passes more than the Chargers use their running game, they're 1-6. In games Rivers throws for more than 300 yards (5), the Chargers are 2-3, and in games he throws for more than 400 yards (2) they're 0-2.
As good as Rivers can be any given week, it hasn't always translated to wins.

The Charger fans, most of them anyway, believe he's the man that can take them to the Super Bowl. Though, I think that loyalty is a bit mis-placed seeing as he's had a few shots at getting there and has only gotten out of the first round of the playoffs once.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on Rivers at all. As I said before, he's a talented quarterback with a lot of greatness potential. While I'm not going to assign all of the blame for where this team is at this point in the season, I think it's a little unfair for Michael Silver to essentially say Rivers is carrying this team which just isn't the case.

Also, I'm not sure calling Rivers' performance against Oakland his "worst of the season" seeing as he threw 24 incomplete passes and was picked twice in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks in week three.

There could be a lot of blame on the coaching staff for calling the wrong plays or the special teams which let the Chargers down more times than once and who might have single handedly handed the Seahawks their victory.

There's no question this team has underachieved to this point and there's also no question that injuries have taken their toll on the Chargers. But that doesn't mean you can give all the credit to one guy and make it seem like Rivers is carrying the entire team, referring to them as "backpack full of boulders."

Over the last six weeks, the team is 5-1 and has gone from a potential "outside looking in" shocker to possibly sneaking their way into the playoffs thanks to a weak AFC West division currently led by the 8-5 Kansas City Chiefs who just got handed a 31-0 beat down by Chargers this past Sunday.

With three weeks left in the season and one more home game to play, Philip Rivers needs to make a decision whether he's going to believe the hype put on his shoulders or whether he's going to let the rest of his guys do what they do best.

The running game works and they've proven it. Though they've had their bumps in the road, their quarterback has had just as many.

He can't do it all himself, he's shown that more than once this season. If he allows the game to come to him and becomes the leader the Charger fans know he can be, than maybe this team has a chance for that playoff spot.

I'm not a hater of Philip Rivers, just a healthy skeptic.

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