Does Philip Rivers Deserve to Be on the Hot Seat?

Marcelo VillaCorrespondent IIOctober 18, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 15:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers looks on against the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium on October 15, 2012 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

There's plenty of finger pointing going on in San Diego after the Chargers managed to blow a 24-point lead at halftime to the Denver Broncos last Monday night, but is it time to put Philip Rivers on the hot seat instead of Norv Turner?

After the loss, Turner faced a barrage of questions from reporters, including the issue of his quarterback's performance as of late. As reported by U-T San Diego's Michael Gehlken, Turner quickly shot down the idea of replacing Rivers with backup Charlie Whitehurst, and made it clear that his team's problems were his own doing:

If you want to make this about somebody, it's not about one of the guys in there. Make it about me.

Typically, most fans would have no problem blaming Turner for San Diego's troubles, as he's been on the hot seat for quite some time now, but how much longer can Rivers be protected, especially after the performance he had against Denver?

Through six games, Rivers has coughed up 14 turnovers—nine interceptions and five fumbles. But, Monday night was—by far—his worst game under center. With a 24-0 lead after halftime, Rivers came out in the second half only to throw three interceptions on three consecutive drives and fumble twice, giving him a grand total of six turnovers when his night was through (Rivers threw another interception in the second quarter).

Rivers practically handed Peyton Manning the ball and begged him to lead a comeback.

The discussion of Rivers' status as an elite quarterback has wavered the past two seasons considering the number of turnovers he's accumulated, and while San Diego's miscues aren't entirely his fault, you have to hand him a good chunk of the blame for the losses this Chargers team has endured. After all, Norv Turner isn't the guy in there with the ball in his hands.

Aside from the season opener against the Oakland Raiders, Rivers has thrown an interception in every game this season. What's more disturbing is the ongoing trend he has developed in the second half of games. Rivers has thrown five interceptions and just two touchdowns in the second half this season. Basically, when the game is on the line, Rivers has been unable to deliver.

We could argue all day what the problem is, whether it's the lack of a successful running game, a faulty offensive line or poor chemistry between his receivers, but it all comes down to his performance in the clutch.

Obviously, doing something drastic like replacing Rivers isn't the answer, but he has to do a better job of taking care of the ball. There's nothing wrong with having that gunslinger mentality. Brett Favre enjoyed a rewarding career zipping passes through defenses, and while he also threw his share of interceptions (NFL's all-time leader in interceptions), that doesn't mean he was incapable of winning games. 

Does Rivers deserve to be on the hot seat? Absolutely. Should he be punished for it? No. What are you going to do with him? Bench him? Of course not. He's the best quarterback on the roster, and he's been doing this for a long time now—nine years to be exact. Then again, you'd think after nine seasons in the league he'd make smarter decisions with his passes.