On the heels of quarterback Philip Rivers' four-interception performance against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night, Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn called for the veteran to do a better job of protecting the football.
According to ESPN's Eric D. Williams, Lynn stressed the importance of limiting mistakes moving forward:
"Philip just has to execute better, as far as turnovers. Now, when you look at his turnovers, it's not always on the quarterback. I mean, sometimes the quarterback is getting hit late, or sometimes a receiver may slip down, so you can't put all of those turnovers on Philip. But his turnovers are a little higher than I would like. He knows that. And we have to get better in that area—period."
The Chargers fell 24-17 to the Chiefs in Mexico City, with their last-ditch attempt to tie or win the game going by the wayside when Rivers was intercepted in the end zone by Daniel Sorensen in the final minute.
With the loss, L.A. fell to 4-7 on the season, and its playoff hopes are now about as slim as can be.
Over the past two games, Rivers has thrown seven interceptions, and his 14 on the season are the second-most in the NFL behind only Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston's 18.
High interception totals aren't unusual for Rivers, as he has thrown 192 in his 16-year career and 18 or more in a single season three times, but he threw just 10 in 2017 and 12 last season.
Like Lynn, Rivers is aware of the fact that he needs to do a better job of protecting the football over the season's final five games: "It's a football game. If you could just pick and choose and never throw [interceptions] ever, I'd choose to throw zero. So I certainly don't want to throw them, but I know it's hurting us right now. So obviously I need to cut them out."
Although Rivers has never reached the Super Bowl, his 57,825 passing yards and 389 passing touchdowns make him a potential future Hall of Famer. Despite that, there is no guarantee that the eight-time Pro Bowler will be with the Chargers beyond this season.
The soon-to-be 38-year-old's contract expires at the end of the season, which means his struggles are coming at the most inopportune of times.
If Rivers goes on a run down the stretch and somehow leads the Chargers to the playoffs or gets them close, perhaps he will be back in 2020. If the Chargers implode and lose most of their remaining games, however, there may be incentive for L.A. to let Rivers walk and select a quarterback early in the 2020 draft.
LSU's Joe Burrow, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon's Justin Herbert and Washington's Jacob Eason are among the quarterbacks who could come off the board early, and all may be targets for a team like the Chargers.
The team's remaining schedule is a mixed bag with games against the Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders and Chiefs in K.C., so it is difficult to predict how they will fare over the final five weeks.
If the past two games are any indication, though, Rivers could be in the midst of his swansong after a productive career spent entirely with the Bolts.