For the first time all season, it is quarterback Philip River’s whose starting position is in question.
This year Rivers has not been the same Pro-Bowl caliber QB San Diego fans have been used to seeing. But, as much as the interceptions and mistakes by the seventh-year starter have felt worse in the last two years. The numbers really aren’t that different.
When Rivers first became the Chargers starting quarterback in 2006, he threw nine interceptions. The only other time he has thrown that few interceptions was in 2009, arguably, his best year as a Bolt.
The other five years, Rivers has thrown double-digit interception numbers. Going through the years, from 2006 on, its been nine, 15, 11, nine, 13, 20, and 15 in the 12 games so far this season.
Rivers has always thrown a good amount of interceptions and this season, he’s not alone. Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees has already thrown 16 interceptions.
So as much as Chargers’ fans have hated seeing Rivers throw easy interceptions; the number of interceptions isn’t what’s caused the decrease in popularity of the North Carolina State grad.
It comes from the timing of those interceptions.
Rivers used to be known for his fourth quarter comebacks. This year, the team is defined by their inability to come through in the fourth quarter.
“It can only end in one of two ways: either converting or not,” Rivers said. “It’s not as if we get it in those situations and we think that we’re not going to do it. It’s disappointing because those situations you can look at in successful seasons and the 13-3 years. If you look at those the other way, that’s a 9-7 year. It takes those kinds of plays to have those kinds of seasons.”
Changes in the offense aren’t anything the Chargers haven’t already to deal with this season, but for the first time the change might come from behind the line in addition to on it.
The real question: Is it worth risking your franchise quarterback behind a makeshift offensive line when the post-season is almost assuredly out of reach?
Head coach Norv Turner, gracefully deflected the question of Rivers playing time.
“We are going to do everything we can to go win a game,” Turner said. “Our guys have competed and done a lot of good things to get us into those games late in the fourth quarter or in overtime. We have to find a way to make the play we have to make to win a game.”