It is a weird time at Chargers Park. The team is sitting at 4-7 and according to ESPN the Bolts only have a 0.04% chance to make the playoffs. The last two games, victory has been within the Chargers grasp, but late-game turnovers have squashed their chances.
The recent play of quarterback Philip Rivers has many media members, former players and even fans questioning if father time is finally starting to catch up to the soon-to-be a 38-year old quarterback.
“I don’t necessarily try to seek it out, but I’m also not naïve to it or ignore it completely,” explained the veteran quarterback. “I understand it. I know it comes with it. I just think it’s not one of those things I’m looking for extra motivation or I’ll show them, or I can’t believe they think that. I get it. If I was in that locker room, I’d be upset with me too. You know some of those things that just comes with it. It comes with the position and I understand that.”
“Again, disappointed that I haven’t made some of the plays that I need to. I’ve also made some plays that help us be in these games, too. So, it goes both ways, and I’m not trying to sell that I’ve played well. I have not played well. And the turnovers are unacceptable, but also there’s no lost confidence, no lost belief in myself. ‘can I do this and all that?’ I don’t even entertain (it).”
In the last two weeks of the season, Rivers hasn’t been his typical self. He has been turning the ball over at a high rate and is unable to get his team in the endzone. Even with both of those factors, the Chargers have managed to stay in each game.
On November 7th against the Oakland Raiders Rivers had thrown two terrible interceptions. The Bolts got the ball back with a little more than a minute on the clock and the offense stalled for three straight plays. On fourth down a penalty was called that gave the team a fresh set of downs. Three plays went nowhere and on the fourth Rivers threw up an easy interception to Karl Joseph. Game over.
“You just keep going,” said Rivers. “It has been a tough two-game stretch. Really unlike any two games I can remember having back to back. You bear down even harder to not turn it over and I believe I can get that done.”
On Monday, November 18th the Chargers faced the Kansas City Chiefs in Mexico City. Rivers had started off the game well, but in the second quarter began throwing the ball erratically. Despite throwing three interceptions, the Chargers defense got River the ball back with 1:53 left in the game. The Bolts drove it down to the Kansas City 14, Rivers went to Austin Ekeler on a wheel route and Daniel Sorenson picked it off. Game over.
“It’s not just one guy why we’re 4-7,” explained head coach Anthony Lynn. “But Phil understands that we can’t keep turning the ball over. He understands that. Everybody’s being evaluated. Hell, if we don’t win enough games, I’m going to be – you know, you’ll be looking at another head coach here soon.”
It is not just the past two games. Rivers has been making bad decisions all season that have cost his team wins. In 11 games this season, Rivers has thrown an AFC high 14 interceptions and only trails Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston for the league high.
On October 28th, the Chargers fired offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt because the offense couldn’t get it going. They turned to Shane Steichen, who is Rivers’ quarterback coach. The offense has been able to run the ball very well, but Rivers continues to struggle. The questions of whether Lynn would consider a quarterback change are starting to be asked.
“I don’t plan on having to make that decision,” said Lynn. “I’m counting on us going and playing our tails off this weekend and getting back in the win column.”
The Chargers are 1-7 in one-score games this season. After the Kansas City loss, ESPN revealed that Rivers has 61 losses by seven points or fewer which is the most in the Super Bowl era.
Speaking of the Super Bowl, this season started with hopes to make it would give Rivers his first chance at trying to win the Lombardi Trophy. Now there are a lot of questions of Rivers still has it to which he feels like he feels better than ever.
“There’s been some other bad plays in this league by guys that are a heck of a lot younger,” Rivers said. “I’m sure they’re not losing it. They’re still capable. So, no, those reasons don’t lead me to think anything from that standpoint.”
NUTS N’ BOLTS
•Chargers injury report. Limited: LB Thomas Davis Sr. (knee), T Russell Okung (groin), T Sam Tevi (knee), WR Mike Williams (knee). Full: RB Justin Jackson (calf), LB Drue Tranquill (calf).