There is Danger in Expecting too much from Rivers this Season

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA
By Loren Casuto (PostAntEater Charger)

Rivers made his first public appearance as the leader of the San Diego Chargers at mini camp; first impressions were positive. Essentially he made the right reads and the right throws. Coach Schottenheimer gave Rivers a B+ grade for the weekend and so far people are not screaming for a return to the Brees’ era. Ironically it seems that people have to guard against expectations that are too high, but we have to guard against immediately throwing Rivers under the bus as well.

Now I don’t want to name names (cough…Trumpet Man….cough) but a lot of people believe that Rivers is ready to lead the Chargers to the Super Bowl solely on the talent surrounding him. Yes this is a very talented team but the number of first year quarterbacks (technically third but first year in starting experience) that have led their teams to the playoffs, let alone to a championship, can be counted on one hand. Even the poster boy for immediate success, Ben Rothlisberger, was carried more by the outstanding defense and running game in the Super bowl and early playoff games. In his first year he was amazingly mediocre in both playoff games throwing for under 250yds and five interceptions in two games. This can be explained away, accurately in my opinion, because he was a rookie, but by the same token that’s not what we want to see out of Rivers in a playoff situation. Similar goes for Tom Brady who, in the 2001 playoffs, had the least number of completions, touchdowns and yards, never had a QB rating over 90, never threw more then a single touchdown in a game and almost cost his team a victory against Oakland in the now infamous “tuck rule” game.

These two are the examples of a young/rookie quarterback taking his team into the playoffs and if that’s what Charger fans are striving for, Ladanian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates and the defense better get ready to truly carry the team. Assuming they aren’t tired from having done such throughout the year. This team is incredibly talented but its success depends entirely on Rivers’ arm, and there is no record for rookie quarterbacks having success in the playoffs. And I do not want to hear about success in the regular season because that should not matter to Charger fans: if it did we should have stuck with Drew Brees who had success in the regular season but could not get us into the playoffs.

Much like Drew Brees in 2002, Rivers’ first few games are against lower-tier teams (Oakland, Tennessee, Baltimore & San Francisco) with the only real tough opponent being a Monday night contest with the (expected to be) Rothlisberger-less Steelers. Brees first opponents in 2002 were the Chiefs, Texans, Bengals and the world champion Patriots, and Brees played solid in all of those games.

But by the same token, we, as Charger fans, can not jump on Rivers if he struggles in his first few outings. NFL experts believe that a starting quarterback needs between one and a half to two years to feel comfortable in an NFL environment. And it is expected, even by those who think Rivers will lead us to the Promised Land, that Rivers will have bad games in his first year. This is something we have to live with and the only thing Charger fans can hope for is that during the days Rivers struggles that the defensive and LT and Turner can pick up the team and carry it. As long as such happens rarely, the team will be well off. This does not mean accepting continuous bad performances; but it means that a limited number of poor performances have to be accepted. Yanking a QB early in his development has two negative effects; one is that it destroys a quarterback’s confidence, stunting his development. And two, for Charger fans, means we have to put our faith in AJ Feeley. Rivers is incredibly talented with a longer record of success then Eli Manning, Ben Rothlisberger, Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler had, but talent is fickle and takes time to be brought to full bloom.

In the end I am not pessimistic; I am not a Brees fan just in the same way I am not a Rivers fan. I am a Charger fan and I want to see a Lombardi trophy paraded through downtown San Diego. I think Rivers has a better chance of leading us to that then Brees. But the success of the season will rest on the arm and skill of Philip Rivers; right now no one can say, positive or negative, what will happen to Rivers. And because of such, we as Charger fans need to relax and let Rivers do his thing.