Philip Rivers is one of the top three quarterbacks in the NFL and will continue to grow in 2009. He had the highest passer rating in the league last year at 105.5, with a more than 3-1 TD (34-11) to interception ratio. Remember, he accomplished this with a much less than 100% Antonio Gates, Chris Chambers, and LaDanian Tomlinson last year. Only toward the end of the year did the Chargers discover the potential of Darren Sproles as a short and screen pass weapon. Look for Rivers’ stats to be off the charts in 2009 (and put him on your fantasy squad!).
Rivers started all four years at North Carolina State, setting numerous school records for the Wolfpack. This is important to his Charger career, because emerging studies of extreme success show that those who become masters in their fields do it not through innate talent or genius, but by amassing massive hours of practice (see Malcolm Gladwell’s fascinating book, Outliers, for more on this). I think Rivers’ physical traits, including his height, arm strength and undervalued Marino-like quick release, combined with his extreme amount of game experience as a starting quarterback, will put him in the league of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady this year.
Norv Turner is known around the league as a brilliant offensive mind and tutor of quarterbacks, which will contribute to Rivers’ continued growth. Rivers’ father is also a football coach, which shows even more how much the sport is in his blood. He’s a football geek. Notice, he’s not dating Giselle, Jessica or in every other commercial you see during the season. He’s not out at the clubs partying. He’s thinking about, practicing and studying football with his free time. It’s fair to say he’s obsessed with the game and being the best.
Lastly, why does the national media underestimate him? I believe it all goes back to two unfortunate moments caught on video: When upset after the loss to the Patriots, he made the “sorriest corner in the league” comment about Ellis Hobbs, and the taunting of Jay Cutler two seasons ago. These two instances gave the impression of an immature boy without the psychological make-up to lead a team. I think though, Charger fans who have seen much more of Rivers than these two incidents, know this is not an accurate picture of our guy and can be attributed to his football “dorkiness” more than anything else, which in the end is more of an asset than a weakness (and Jay Cutler, the baby, deserves to be taunted…Chicago is now cursed, but that’s another story).
Billy Volek and Charlie Whitehurst are both supportive teammates and capable backups.