Despite a 2-1 start and a full game advantage on the rest of their division in the standings, the San Diego Chargers and their fans have a taste of disgust in their mouths following the beatdown that the Atlanta Falcons handed the Chargers in Week 3.
In a benchmark game for the Chargers, it was extremely disappointing to see them come out and lay a complete egg against the Falcons. The team looked awful on offense and the defense struggled getting off the field on third down.
Every player on that suited up against the Falcons looked dreadful. The offensive line had trouble all day, leaving little time for Philip Rivers to make decisions. Even when they did provide Rivers with enough time he made poor decisions throughout the game.
Ryan Mathews, who looked solid in his debut, confirmed what everyone around the Chargers organization feared; he still fumbles.
In short, it was a rough game for everyone who was a part of the Chargers on Sunday. Despite this, it is still clear that Philip Rivers is the best player on this Chargers team.
Rivers had a disastrous game against the Falcons. He was rushed into making decisions and ended up throwing two ill-advised interceptions. Despite this poor performance, Rivers showed us in the first two games of the season that he is an incredible quarterback.
For the second year in a row, Rivers has been dealt a bad hand by his organization. Last year the team was not deep enough and Rivers was forced to operate with few weapons. This resulted in a below-average year for Rivers and many questioning if he was as injured or not.
This year the Chargers offensive line is in shambles and Rivers has less than enough time to get the ball downfield. He has been without his two favorite weapons, Antonio Gates and Mathews, for parts of this season leaving few weapons for Rivers to find.
Robert Meachem has been a disappointment for the Chargers. He has just recorded just six catches through the first three games this year. Michael Floyd has been decent for the Chargers, but he has only recorded 13 catches.
Despite the lack of weapons and awful protection Rivers has had a decent start to his season. He's thrown for 688 yards on 103 attempts with four touchdowns and three interceptions (two coming against the Falcons). His current completion percentage is 67, which is ahead of his normal career average (his career high is 66 percent in 2009).
Rivers looked great in the 38-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans where he threw for 284 yards on 24 completions and three touchdowns. His passer rating was 119.8 which is monstrous compared his dismal 45.2 passer rating he had against the Falcons.
Rivers also preformed well against the Raiders in the first game of the season, throwing for 231 yards and one touchdown in the 22-14 victory.
Not only has Rivers admitted his mistakes when he makes them, he also takes on a lot of extra heat from fans and the media off of Head Coach Norv Turner.
He always has supported Turner and was one of the first players to come out in backing Dean Spanos decision to keep Turner. He also came out in favor of General Manager A.J. Smith, who is the man in charge of providing the quality players that Rivers has been missing.
Rivers is a born leader and has kept the Chargers alive in past years with his feisty attitude and relentless attitude on the field. This is something that the Chargers rely on week in and week out.
If the Chargers want to remain in first place in the AFC West they will need Rivers to bring his best every game, something that you can normally count on. As long as Rivers is wearing a Chargers jersey, he will be the best player on the roster.
Eric Weddle: The best defensive player on the roster and arguably one of the best safeties in the league, Weddle is a complete monster when he is on the field. His range is incredible and it is very rare that he ever misses a tackle.His world-class athleticism allows him to make plays that many safeties cannot make.
Weddle is not afraid to drop huge hits on opposing receivers and backs. Weddle and Atari Bigby form a powerful safety unit that is one of the best in the AFC. Weddle is off to a great 2012 season with one pick and 15 total tackles through three games.
Donald Butler: The young middle linebacker has been extremely impressive throughout the beginning to the 2012 season. Butler has shown that he is conformable in both pass coverage as well as stepping into holes and stuffing the run. He is so athletic that he is able to cover tight ends with ease as well as run with running backs in coverage.
Butler has really shown this year he that is the future at middle linebacker for the Chargers and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chargers look to lock him up long term, either during this season or right after the season ends.
His time spent with Takeo Spkes has paid off immensely, as Butler has emerged as one of the bright young linebackers in the NFL. Through the first three games Butler is second on the team in tackles with 23 total tackles.
Shaun Phillips: Phillips had a tremendous start to his 2012 season with his two-and-a-half sack performance against the Oakland Raiders in Week 1. Since then, he has yet to record a sack but has provided constant pressure off the edge and has recorded eight total tackles on the year.
Often double-teamed, Phillips numbers won’t jump off the page but he opens up so many different options for this teammates to get after the quarterback and shut down opposing teams rushing attack.
Phillips main concern will be his health, if he can stay healthy all of 2012 the Chargers will be much better defensively. The combination of Melvin Ingram, Jarret Johnson and Antwan Barnes will not be as successful without the presence of Phillips in the rotation.