Philip Rivers 2010 Season: Why It Wasn't Good for the Chargers

Ross Warner@@Lucab12Contributor IIINovember 9, 2012

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 26:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers questions a penalty call during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on September 26, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Chargers 27-20.(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Philip Rivers' 2010 season is often cited as being his best. 

He led the NFL with 4,710 passing yards even though Vincent Jackson (who the Bolts will face in Tampa this Sunday) held out for much of the season. 

Gates, Floyd and Naanee also missed significant time with injuries.  Rivers throwing feats were often in the direction of Randy McMichael, Patrick Crayton and Seyi Ajirotutu.

By year's end, Rivers still had a passer rating of 101.8 with 30 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. 

It was this very campaign that had many assuming that he'd tear up the NFL last season.

With all of his weapons healthy, it seemed like a logical conclusion. But something happened that season and the effects are still being felt by all among The Legion Of The Lightning Bolt. 

This was the first season without LaDainian Tomlinson. 

In 2009, the Bolts tried to establish the run all season long. But with an 11-game winning streak to finish the regular season, it appeared like the "throw to the tall receivers" approach was working.

January football is a very different animal.

Nick Hardwick had missed much of the year after being injured in the opener. 

Jamal Williams went down against Denver (for the second time in his career) and would never play for the Chargers again.  The Bolts weren't strong in the trenches and it showed in their only playoff game.

In 2010, Philip Rivers would have the opportunity in the fourth quarter to win games in Kansas City, Seattle, St. Louis and Oakland. 

He was unsuccessful in all of them. 

In fact, after being known as a strong finisher over the course of his first four seasons, he would begin a streak of not being able to lead a game-winning drive that continues to this day.

2010 was the season that Rivers lost his first December game as well.  After thrashing the Colts on Sunday Night football, the Chargers were bloodied by Michael Bush and the Raiders. 

The Bolts would be officially eliminated from playoff contention a few weeks later in Cincinnati. 

That game will be more remembered for featuring the first real evidence that Antoine Cason is a liability.  It was also the game where Ryan Mathews was actually given the ball on the goal line. 

Unfortunately, the patchwork offensive line was unable clear a path for him.  But that game, and the Bolts' season, turned during a different sequence.

The game was 13-10, Chargers were driving to try to take the lead.  They had the ball on their own 47 after a Vincent Jackson reception of 15 yards.  But the 3rd quarter was about to end and the Bolts would no longer have the wind at their backs.  So Rivers tried to force a ball to Randy McMichael on the period's final play. 

The pass was intercepted by Rey Maualuga, who the Chargers could have drafted (along with Clay Matthews) instead of Larry English. Maualuga ran from the Bengals' 32-yard line to the Bolts' 21. The final nail was in the coffin of the 2010 Bolts.

Steve Crosby was canned for the special teams' historically bad play that year.  I don't need to rehash that for you.  If you're reading this, you lived through it. 

Ron Rivera would leave for Carolina.  But the bad habits that Philip Rivers had always possessed were no longer creeping up on him.  They started trotting that year. 

They've been running ever since.  Sure, they slow down for a bit. But they've been showing up far too often.  Rivers' best game was the "management" performance against the Colts. 

Mike Tolbert had 26 carries for 103 yards and Rivers only had to throw 23 times. 

That's not a bad thing, but I'm not sure Rivers saw it that way.

In that season's loss to the Seahawks, Rivers broke Dan Fouts' single-game yardage mark of 455 yards.  Maybe someone should have reminded him that Jim McMahon also threw for a career high of 389 yards in San Diego. He also lost the game. 

Since 2009, the Chargers are 1-14 when Philip Rivers throws over 40 times.  Unfortunately, it was during the 2010 season that throwing that much became all too common.  As The Who once sang, the music must change.