Philip Rivers is among my favorite NFL players to watch, but over the past year, it has been really hard to do so. During that time, Rivers has appeared to rapidly lose arm strength, making his passes flat to receivers instead of getting there with zip, particularly on intermediate routes. This season, San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner's job will be directly impacted by whether or not Rivers finds his arm strength.
In 2011, Rivers completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 4,624 yards, 27 touchdowns and a career-high 20 interceptions. His passer rating was also a pedestrian 88.7. Rivers had traditionally been one of the NFL's best deep-ball throwers, but nine of his interceptions in 2011 were intended for Vincent Jackson, and most came on under-thrown vertical passes.
So far in the preseason, Rivers has thrown three interceptions, one of which was a horrible under-throw intended for a wide-open Robert Meachem on Saturday night against the Dallas Cowboys.
Rivers has always done a fantastic job leading his receivers and anticipating where opposing defenders will be. But without the same zip on his throws, he will have almost no room for error.
Last season, Rivers was forced to throw off his back foot a lot because of pressure from opposing defenses. The Chargers suffered terribly from injuries along the offensive line and gave the four-time Pro Bowler almost no protection. In 2012, that unit must find a way to be better.
Maybe if Rivers is stepping into his throws, he can recapture some of the velocity he had in previous seasons. But so far in the preseason, he hasn't looked much better than he did last year.
The Chargers need Rivers to be in top form this season if they hope to compete in the AFC West. And the only way Norv Turner will keep his job this offseason is if the Bolts make a deep run in the postseason.