The quarterback selected between between Manning and Roethlisberger has been treading water in the sea of NFL history ever since. We're talking about Philip Rivers—who will forever be linked with Manning because of the trade that sent Eli to New York and Rivers to the San Diego Chargers.
The thing is, all three quarterbacks have proven themselves worthy of their draft status. Rivers hasn't hoisted a trophy yet, but he has been on par in terms efficiency (96.0 career passer rating) with Big Ben (94.2 career rating) and with Peyton's little brother (83.0 rating) over the course of his career.
Some are sure to blame coaching for the difference in success between Rivers (plenty of Chargers fans still have a grudge with Marty Schottenheimer, I'm sure) and his draft peers. However, the real difference is that the Chargers have failed to surround Rivers with the same type of talent from which Roethlisberger and Manning have benefited.
If you have a hard time believing it, just look at Rivers' career numbers (38,288 yards and a 64.9 career completion percentage heading into Sunday).
Rivers is good—he's literally borderline Hall of Fame material—but he has yet to win anything of note. This is because he's pretty much been the center of the Chargers franchise, and this is a trend that continues in 2015.
San Diego went into the weekend rated seventh in passing offense by Pro Football Focus.
The Chargers also headed into Sunday with a ton of confidence, likely because the team knew that Rivers is a guy who can be counted upon.
“I’ve never gone into a game thinking we’re ever going to lose,” Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said, per Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com, prior to the game. “I’ll never change that mindset. If we go in with the right mindset, we can beat any football team when we play the way we’re capable of playing.”
Rivers has sliced through opposing defenses in 2015, yet his team currently sits at 2-4. San Diego had an opportunity to pull up to .500 on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, but again everything was on Rivers—and it wasn't enough.
Rivers (503 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions) was great again against the Packers. He was certainly good enough to win. Once again, though, he had no support. In fact, Rivers was good enough to set franchise records.
San Diego just wasn't good enough to play a support role.
As a team, the Chargers produced just 60 net rushing yards on offense. The team also gave up 370 net yards of offense to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. In the end, it wasn't enough as San Diego lost 27-20.
This isn't an aberration. Rivers is playing like a legitimate MVP candidate. If the Chargers were doing better as a team, he might be a front-runner. They're not, and Rivers is probably going to be an afterthought among quarterbacks when the season is said and done—at least if things continue along their current path.
If San Diego could afford to put the franchise on Rivers' shoulders, it would likely be successful. It can't, and since it can't, the Chargers are likely to struggle through the rest of the 2015 season.
Perhaps if the franchise moves to Los Angeles, it will stop taking Rivers for granted.