Without his star left tackle or number one wideout, Philip Rivers put together an amazing season, with the hopes of millions on his shoulders
Do you remember the mythological Greek figure Atlas? He was always shown with the world on his back, supporting the weight and responsibility of all the Titans. He carried the most massive burden, yet had the patience, power, and protective nature to fulfill his duty.
Today, we call that mythological figure Philip Rivers.
In short, the San Diego Chargers do not have a team without him. Don't get me wrong; there are many good players down in San Diego: Shaun Phillips, Vincent Jackson, Marcus McNeill, Quentin Jammer. The lightning of Darren Sproles and the thunder of Mike Tolbert make for a good rushing corps. The feature back and the future of the Tomlinson tradition, Ryan Mathews, was injured this year but will be special in the coming seasons. However, Ron Rivera has left, one of the most important keys to the vaunted San Diego offense. He will most definitely succeed with the Carolina Panthers.
Don't worry, Chargers fans, for you have Philip Rivers.
Rivers is one of the eminent quarterbacks of our day, certainly considered elite. However, he is still underrated and overlooked far too often. He only received five votes for offensive player of the year. Which, however, is a popularity contest for a QB on a hot team going into the playoffs, as Tom Brady said. Even so, five votes is not enough recognition for the best pure leader in the game today.
Why is Philip Rivers number one? Because, just like Atlas, he carries the entire weight of the San Diego Chargers. Tom Brady is an excellent quarterback, but his coaching staff and the players around him make for a complete and efficient team effort. That is the New England Patriots system, and it is a better one. Rivers does most of it on his own. Imagine if, on your team, you had a star left tackle and a true number one wide receiver. However, they missed most of the season. Wouldn't your quarterback's play suffer?
Normally it would, but not if your quarterback is Philip Rivers.
Without Marcus McNeill, his blind side protector, and Vincent Jackson, his most lethal weapon, Philip Rivers led his number one ranked offense with audacity and confidence. He threw touchdowns to 11 different receivers during the season. It didn't matter who was catching it, as long as Rivers put it in the air. Also, the running game was mediocre at best. No running game? No problem.
Rivers led the league in passing yards with 4,710 while extending his marvelous career streak of never throwing more than two interceptions in a game. He also ranked second in the league in passer rating (101.8), first in passing average (8.7) and first in yards/game (294.4).
What makes Philip Rivers truly special is his combination of accuracy and big play ability. He ranked third in completion percentage with 66 percent, showing a precision level reserved only to the games greats. Accuracy on big plays is even more lethal. Rivers easily led the league with plus 40 yard plays with 14 and plays over 20 yards with a stunning 65. He is the master of the big play, and watching him is to watch the most explosive player in football.
Without Marcus McNeill, the San Diego offensive line play truly suffered. Rivers was sacked 38 times, third most in the NFL. We all know he isn't a quarterback to hold onto the ball too long. With porous pass protection and lacking a number one receiver, Rivers carried the San Diego offense brilliantly.
I often feel like Philip Rivers gets an unnecessarily bad reputation. People say he's a hothead, a smack talker, but all I have ever seen is a quarterback who is intense in his desire for victory. Rivers truly cares about his team, his fans, and his city.
That's the kind of quarterback I want playing on my team. Complete desire to win, an unmatchable intensity, and pride in his football team. He's intelligent, gutsy, and resilient. In the 2007 playoffs, he played the entire AFC championship game with a torn ACL. Are you taking notes, Jay Cutler?
Rivers carries the weight of an entire franchise, an entire city. That's what a quarterback is truly all about.