Philip Rivers Rumors: Colts 'Confident the Arm Strength Is Still There'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2020

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

While veteran quarterback Philip Rivers is 38 years old and coming off a down season with the Los Angeles Chargers, the Indianapolis Colts are reportedly optimistic about him entering the 2020 campaign.

According to Zak Keefer of The Athletic, the Colts are "confident the arm strength is still there and hopeful that a new team—and some new weapons—will be enough to lift Indianapolis from the disappointment of 7-9."

Rivers spent his entire 16-year career with the Chargers before signing with the Colts, and he will now look to get Indy back in the playoff hunt after it missed out on the postseason in 2019.

Rivers is an eight-time Pro Bowler and has posted some of the best stats NFL history, as he ranks sixth all-time in both passing yardage (59,271) and passing touchdowns (397).

During his time with the Bolts, Rivers went 123-101 as a starter during the regular season and didn't miss a single game from 2006 (when he became the starter) through 2019. Perhaps the one knock on Rivers is a lack of playoff success.

He is just 5-6 in 11 postseason starts and has never advanced past the AFC Championship Game. In 2020, he will look to conquer that challenge as a member of the Colts.

Indy brought in Rivers to replace Jacoby Brissett as the starter. Brissett got the job last preseason when Andrew Luck unexpectedly retired, and while he had his moments, his limitations turned the Colts into a run-heavy team.

Brissett completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 2,942 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions, while also rushing for 228 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games.

Rivers was more mistake-prone than Brissett last season with 20 interceptions, but he also made far more plays, as he completed 66.0 percent of his attempts for 4,615 yards and 23 scores.

One question that persisted last season was whether Rivers still had the arm strength to make plays down the field. While he never had an exceedingly strong arm, he got into trouble last year when he tried to press the issue and challenge deep coverage.

Even so, Rivers seems to be entering an advantageous situation. The Colts selected wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft to join a receiving corps that already includes T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell. They also have a solid tight end combo of Jack Doyle and Trey Burton, plus one of the league's top offensive lines.

The biggest help to Rivers, however, will be the running back tandem of Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor. Mack topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time last season, and Taylor is a rookie second-round pick who rushed for 6,174 yards in only three seasons at Wisconsin.

If the Colts can impose their will on the opposition with their running game and opening things up for Rivers as a passer, then any decline in arm strength may not be as big of an issue next season.