San Diego Chargers: What Does Future Hold for Philip Rivers and the Bolts?

Lou RomContributor ISeptember 23, 2012

September 23, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) passes while being pressured by Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham (55) during the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE
Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

An atypical 2-0 start had San Diego Chargers fans feeling good about the 2012 season, but a humbling defeat at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons brought them crashing down to earth.

Philip Rivers was abysmal in the 27-3 debacle, completing 21-of-38 for just 173 yards, two INTs and a QB rating that hovered around the over/under for the game.

The only saving grace for San Diego is that they remain atop the AFC West with Denver, Kansas City and Oakland at 1-2.

But that's about all the good news for Rivers and the Chargers, who looked brilliant in two wins that showcased a retooled defense and an offense that harkened back to the first few years of the Norv Turner era.

Rivers, like Turner, has been on the bubble the last few years after the Chargers flopped in the 2009 playoffs. His 20 interceptions last season had many calling for his ouster.

Rivers has always been the big question mark in San Diego—not because he was the weak link preventing an otherwise great team from returning to the Super Bowl—but because his playoff record betrays his size and raw talent: 3-4 in the postseason.

On Sunday, Rivers tossed two picks and did not find the end zone. He barely completed half of his passes after compiling a 73 percent completion rate in the Chargers' two wins to open the season.

Rivers has been in the second tier of NFL quarterbacks for seven years now; but his inability to carry his team on his back through adversity has kept him from becoming elite.

If the Chargers are going to make the playoffs, it will be on the back of their defense and the arm of Rivers.

The defense is back on top again, ranked third overall with a run defense as good as any in the league.

Now, it's up to Rivers to get them to the promised land.

That starts next week, when Rivers looks to rebound from a dismal Week 3 performance against the Kansas City Chiefs, who escaped with a surprise victory over the New Orleans Saints.

If San Diego does not rebound, if they don't not make the playoffs—or get out of the first round—Rivers could be on his way out.

But the Chargers will be hard pressed to find a quarterback with the toughness and the arm of Rivers, even if he never gets them to the big game.