Age is truly just a number, especially if you are a quarterback in this day in age. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is 36 years old and if history has taught us something it’s that players start their decline around 35, but this is not the case with Rivers.
Lately, there has been a trend of older quarterbacks performing at a high level.
Rivers is off to the best start statically in his career, he has thrown for 1,495 yards (12th), 13 touchdowns (2nd), and has only thrown two interceptions (tied for 2nd lowest).
“He’s taking care of the football,” explained head coach Anthony Lynn. “He's going to throw one every now and then, but for the most part, he's taking care of the football. His completion percentage is up.”
Another reason the Chargers continue to succeed is because Rivers is completing passes at a high rate, 70 percent, something he hasn’t done since 2013. Limiting turnovers is something that the Chargers players and coaches have been emphasizing since training camp and so far it has shown to have worked. Both of Rivers interceptions have been early in the game against the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. Coaches always want quarterbacks to have a short memory when they throw an interception and that’s something Rivers is good at.
“I look at, especially those two losses and things could have been better in those games, but as I've always said, I don't think one year leads into the other year. However, I felt a steadiness, as I mentioned, as we got in the back half of last year. I kind of felt it all the way through training camp. So it seemed to have kind of carried over, not just myself, but I think offensively, the balance we have, how we're using all our guys, and the weapons, and how the guys are playing up front,” said Rivers.
This weekend the Chargers face a tough task because these are not the same Cleveland Browns that have been the doormat of the NFL. The Browns defense has taken the ball away 15 times this season, which is the most in the league.
“Well, I just remember last year leaving the game thinking it was a heck of a group, really,” said Rivers. “They're even healthier than they were then, and they've added some pieces. I think the biggest thing that stands out is that they’re taking the ball away.”
The Chargers will need Rivers to be even better than he has been because it seems like the Browns defenders catch anything thrown their way. Especially the fourth pick of the draft, cornerback Denzel Ward, who has three interceptions five games into the season.
What makes everything Rivers is doing more incredible is that he has been without his starting right tackle, Joe Barksdale, since the first game of the season and was without his left tackle, Russell Okung, for last weekend’s game against the Oakland Raiders. Sam Tevi has started for Okung and Trent Cole has started for Barksdale, but Rivers said he hopes to see both of those guys back.
“I thought Trent and Sam did a heck of a job,” explained Rivers. “They battled. I think it's one thing we have with all our group, those first five, and then you mentioned Trent and Sam now have been thrown into that role — Sam more so than Trent, more game experience since Week 1 — but we've got a gritty, tough group, and I'm glad. I'm just excited about the guys we have.”
A couple of years ago Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant dropped a new nickname for himself, which was “Vino” which in English means wine, explaining that he gets better with age. Maybe Rivers can be the next generation of “Vino” because the Chargers depend so much on him that they need him to get better as not only the season continues, but as he continues to age.
NUTS AND BOLTS
•Chargers injury report: DNP: WR Travis Benjamin (foot), DE Joey Bosa (foot), LB Jatavis Brown (groin), LB Kyzir White (knee). Limited: RT Joe Barksdale (knee), LT Russell Okung (groin), C Mike Pouncey (knee), K Caleb Sturgis (quad). Full: TE Virgil Green (rib) and DT Damion Square (shoulder).
•Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said that star defensive end Joey Bosa will not travel with the team to Cleveland or London. He will instead stay in Costa Mesa and rehab. Bosa said two weeks ago he expects to be ready on November 4th when the team faces the Seattle Seahawks.