A casual fan watching watching the one series quarterback Phillip Rivers played against the Seattle Seahawks last Thursday might take very little from his performance, but for a Charger fan, he provided something that was lacking from last year’s quarterback. Rivers utilization of his slot receivers and short passes reemphasizes head coach Mike McCoy’s philosophy to return him to the basics that made Rivers a success in the early part of his career.
Rivers dependency on the long ball and inconsistency has beat writers waiving him off as a Pro Bowl quarterback. They definitely have room to talk. Rivers play the last couple years has been mediocre at best. His poor decisions could be attributed to one of the worst offensive lines in team history, but no one can forget the putrid pick six he threw against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that eventually cost them the game.
However, a new quarterback is not the answer. The Chargers coaching staff simply needs to fix the one they have now because he has the skills and knowledge to take the Bolts to the playoffs.
It may only be the first preseason game, but the game spoke measures to Rivers importance to the team’s success. For the five minutes he spent on the field, Rivers showed more enthusiasm and excitement on this one drive than he had most of last season. His short three step drops and targeting of multiple receivers was something lacking from the predicable Norv Turner playbook. Rivers finished the game 5/6 for 45 yards. McCoy’s offensive scheme for this drive showed balance and movement rather than a long bomb or deep developing posts.
With uncertainty on the offensive line, Rivers needs the time to read routes. His quick release and strong arm forces receivers to make something happen after the catch. The loss of wide receiver Denario Alexander to an ACL tear opens the door for rookie Keenan Allen or Vincent Brown to step as the number 2 guy. Yet, Rivers success and his ability to the get the ball to receivers will depend on the time he gets from his offensive line. If the line fails to protect Rivers, it will more likely be another long season for Charger fans.
In a league that showcases athletic, playmaking quarterbacks, Rivers has to once again dig deep to prove to the fans and the league that he does belong at the forefront of conversation. The Chargers have failed to make the playoffs the last two seasons and it is important the team compete this year in a tough AFC West with the Denver Broncos the favorites to win the Super Bowl. If Rivers can return to the basics and make the right decisions, the Chargers have a chance for a Wild Card, but it does solely rest on the arm of Number 17 whether fans will be cheering a playoff run in 2013.