Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers knows that he's as much to blame as anyone for San Diego's struggles so far this year. And while a number of factors outside of his control have contributed to what amounts to the worst performance of his NFL career, Rivers isn't making any excuses.
That's because he knows as well as any that his league-leading 19 turnovers may be enough to keep the Chargers out of the playoffs for the second year in a row. Rivers' fair share of the blame aside, though, let's not kid ourselves. Obviously, pass protection has been an issue for San Diego this year.
Not since Stan Humphries had his career cut short after suffering from a series of concussions during the 1996 season, has a Chargers quarterback seen so much heat.
Running for his life all too often this year, Rivers has taken a beating. He's been sacked 25 times so far with seven games still left to play which puts him on pace to shatter the record he set last year for number of times sacked in a season at 38.
A string of poor outings by left tackle Marcus McNeill hasn't helped. Nor has the inability of the Chargers to adjust to the loss of All-Pro guard Kris Dielman.
In any case, Rivers has had a difficult time finding any kind of comfort level in the pocket and San Diego has been unable develop any kind of a rhythm on offense, as a result.
The absence of Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd for extended periods of time at different points of the season hasn't helped matters either, particularly when it counts, in the red zone. Through the years, though, Rivers' game has come to rely pretty heavily on his over-sized, sure-handed targets.
Rivers is quick to admit that much of the credit for his success is due to how well his receivers have used their size advantage to out position or go up and over the defender for the football. And while the recent emergence of rookie receiver Vincent Brown has helped, Patrick Crayton and Vincent Jackson have taken too many plays off this year to make up the difference.
These aren't the only reasons for Rivers' decline, though. Coaching, mechanics and the way that opposing defenses have exploited the Chargers' weaknesses at different points in the season have all played their part.
Still, Rivers isn't throwing any of his teammates under the bus or pointing any fingers. This is because he knows that his league-leading 15 interceptions and four fumbles has as much to do with the position the Chargers find themselves in at this stage of the season than anything else.