Norv’s Gone

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Familiarity in all walks of life can lead you in directions you would not expect. Complacency in a career is something you never want to happen. In the sports world free agency keeps most athletes on their heels. In San Diego that has not been the case at quarterback.

Philip Rivers at one time looked like he could very well be worth the trade value of Eli Manning. Heck, there was a time San Diego fans were even okay with the fact that Drew Brees was allowed to walk away. Those times seem ancient especially over the last couple of seasons were there seemed to be a non-existent attention to detail for Rivers or the offensive playbook.

Tracing the offenses woes to a couple of key areas is easy. The Chargers did not have LT and were trying to go with a platoon of running backs due to Ryan Matthews constant injuries. The offensive line that used to be stable a few years ago regressed. Rivers has seen his sack-ratio rise from an average of the mid 20’s from 2006 to 2009, to in the high thirties the last three seasons—including a whopping 49 sacks a year ago.

There was also a time the Chargers had big play receivers at their disposal. Vincent Jackson was a top receiver in the league, but for some reason the Chargers did not want to pony up the dollars to re-sign him and keep him a Charger. Antonio Gates redefined the athletic tight end and became an example for other teams to emulate. The same injury bug tune that has hit Matthews has plagued Gates the last few years. Literally the Chargers have done almost next to nothing to protect their franchise quarterback and build a nucleus of talent around him the past few seasons.

It is amazing Rivers has remained unscathed to time off the field because of injury. He has taken a severe beating, and a just like a boxer, at some point you’re going to make mistakes if you’re getting targeted frequently. Norv could never figure that out and there were a few times a year ago that you could see the two clashing visibly on the sidelines.

With Norv gone the familiarity of a coach that Philip obviously did not get along with is erased. Rivers is only entering his 10th year at quarterback, and eighth as a starter. His quest to get back to an AFC championship is not going to happen this year, but he can begin to regain confidence in himself and his teammates. Honing in on getting back to the basics needs to be his first priority.

He knows the talent at wide receiver is not the great in San Diego. They did not sign any key free agents and spent a draft pick on Keenan Allen. News today that Danario Alexander tore his ACL will only decrease the wide receivers value on the Chargers roster. They do have serviceable receivers though in Vincent Brown, Malcolm Floyd, Robert Meachem, and Eddie Royal. All have had their moments in their careers on different teams.

A big key too is that all have been Chargers for at least a year. Rivers should already have timing down with them, and a connection in the pocket to find them.
I think the AFC West will surprise some people with the possible emergence of Kansas City and a newfound actual veteran in Philip Rivers. He has the intangibles to be an elite quarterback in this league again. He needs to realize that each down does not need to be a home run play, and that he can hold back on a series when it is not there.

Numbers do not lie, and a tell-all stat for Rivers trying to do too much is how many fumbles he has had the last two years. He has had 24 fumbles, but only 12 were recovered. Rivers is not a scrambler anymore either. So it’s not like he is getting drilled ten to twenty yards down the field and losing the ball. He is holding it far too long in the pocket.

If Rivers would have played the way he has the past two years for different coaches other than Norv, he likely would have found the bench.

Rivers will reawaken this season and I expect a strong rise in his yardage totals, and for him to calm down in the turnover department both with fumbles and interceptions. If you are the type of fantasy draft owner that likes to wait on a quarterback, and then get two semi-decent quarterbacks (E. Manning, Romo, Roethlisber, etc) and having your choice of who to start each week—I’d include Rivers in that conversation.

By the end of September and early October, Rivers will have that green upward arrow on him as he ascends from the low teens range he is at right now for fantasy quarterbacks.


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