San Diego Chargers: Can Philip Rivers Guide the Bolts to the Playoffs?

James ShimCorrespondent ISeptember 11, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 18:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers gestures to the sideline during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Qualcomm Stadium on August 18, 2012 in San Diego, California.  The Chargers won 28-20.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Since the arrival of Peyton Manning in the AFC West, it seems that all the buzz has surrounded the Denver Broncos even though the entire AFC West has become more competitive this season. The Chiefs added Peyton Hillis to go along with Jamaal Charles, the Raiders had a full offseason with Carson Palmer and, something many people overlook, the San Diego Chargers made some important offseason moves.

Norv Turner is on the hot seat once again after failing to reach the playoffs since 2009 and the Chargers have reloaded in hopes to return back to the postseason. 

With Philip Rivers' favorite target, Vincent Jackson, departing for the Buccaneers, the Chargers had a big question mark at the wide receiver position. They addressed the issue by signing former Saints receiver Robert Meachem and former Broncos receiver Eddie Royal. The Chargers hope that the new receiving core of Malcolm Floyd, Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal along with Antonio Gates in the middle will give Rivers enough weapons to have an explosive offense. 

Many criticized Philip Rivers last season for the Chargers' failure to reach the playoffs. Rivers had a career-high 20 interceptions, as well as 25 of the team’s 28 turnovers last season, consistently setting up the opposition for an easy score.

Even so, Rivers is still an elite quarterback in the league and one of the most reliable at the quarterback position. Rivers, who has passed for more than 4,000 yards since 2008, is more than capable of leading this year's Charger team to a playoff birth. He can make all the throws needed at the NFL level and also possesses great leadership. He has great work ethic that influences the players around him.

According to head coach Norv Turner, "That's what leadership is, but it all starts with what you do on the field and the effort you put into honing your craft. He sets a great example for everyone in this organization."

As a veteran player who was more than capable of taking his team to the playoffs in the past two years but failed to so, you've got to believe that Rivers is more than hungry to take this team back to the postseason. 

The Chargers defense also looks solid with veterans Takeo Spikes, Shaun Phillips, Quentin Jammer and Eric Weddle. Defensive play will be very important, because if the Chargers D can keep them in games Rivers should be able to take control on offense and put the team in good position to win.

Another factor to the Chargers' success lies in the hands of running back Ryan Matthews. Matthews, who has had a series of injuries, missed the Week 1 opener due to a broken clavicle he suffered early in training camp. 

Matthews must have a solid year so that the Chargers offense does not become one-dimensional. If Matthews can run the ball with consistency, there will be less pressure on Philip Rivers and the passing game. 

Rivers was off to a good start in the Monday Night opener against the Oakland Raiders and, most importantly, he did not turn the ball over. In 33 attempts, Rivers completed 72.7 percent of his passes, threw for 231 yards and also one touchdown. 

If his week one performance was any indication, Rivers looks to have a great bounce back year and lead the Bolts back to a playoff appearance this season.