Philip Rivers is making the natives restless in San Diego and across Charger Nation.
As one of those natives living in Tucson, Ariz., I can understand their anxiety, but I am here to offer some solace.
After suffering through several mediocre quarterbacks in the late '80s and '90s and the worst quarterback of all time in Ryan Leaf from 1998-2000, the Chargers finally caught a break drafting Drew Brees out of Purdue in 2001. After struggling in his first two years, the Chargers were looking to get rid of Brees and drafted Rivers in 2004.
Brees felt the heat and led the Chargers to a 12-4 season, won Comeback Player of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl. Brees became a free agent and was then designated a franchise player heading into the 2005 season. No team wanted to give up two first-round draft picks for the quarterback, and Brees started for the Chargers as the rookie Rivers looked on.
The final game of the 2005 season saw Brees injured with a torn labrum that required offseason surgery. Although the Chargers offered him a five-year, $50 million contract, Brees knew that Rivers would be the team's starter in the future, so he explored his options and signed with the New Orleans Saints.
Rivers' career began in earnest, starting the first game in 2006 and he has been the only starting quarterback for the past seven years. Rivers led the Chargers to four straight division championships and three 10-plus win seasons with his accurate passing and 105 touchdowns to only 35 interceptions.
The Chargers have missed the playoffs the past two years, finishing second in the AFC West with nine and eight wins, respectively. His touchdown-to-interception ratio over that time dropped to 57-to-33, including 20 interceptions last year and eight multiple interception games.
Through nine games this year, Rivers has already thrown 12 interceptions to his 15 touchdowns, including four multiple interception games. He has been a case study in the necessity of playing all four quarters. He has thrown 12 touchdowns and only five picks in the first half versus three touchdowns and seven interceptions in the second half—six of them in the crucial final minutes of the game.
After reading all these atrocious numbers, here is the good news. Rivers will bounce back this weekend in the Mile High City and exact revenge on the division-leading Broncos and pull within a game of Denver in the AFC West.
If history proves to be true, Rivers always bounces back toward the end of the season after winning four of the last five games in 2011 with an 11-to-3 touchdown to interception ratio over that stretch. The year prior saw Rivers win seven of the final nine games with a 15-to-6 touchdown to interception ratio.
Fret not inhabitants of Bolt Nation, Rivers' midseason slump is over, and the 2012-13 season isn't over yet. For the final seven games of the season, the Chargers are home four times and travel three times to Denver, Pittsburgh and New York to take on the Jets.
If the Chargers can win at Mile High this weekend, this will surely give them the necessary momentum needed to host the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens' defense is legendary, and Rivers will need to curtail his mistakes if they expect to pull out the victory at home.
The final five games of the season have the Chargers facing only one team over .500; the 5-3 Pittsburgh Steelers, who are currently 0-2 against the AFC West.
Rivers is a dangerous quarterback who can strike early and often. He just needs to remember not to force bad plays that lead to interceptions or worse yet, defensive touchdowns. I have faith in the "Mouth from the South" and look forward to many more years of him guiding the ship and leading the Chargers to victory in the future, regardless of who they have for a head coach. Maybe Marty Schottenheimer is willing to come back.
I see the Chargers finishing the season 10-6, tied with the Broncos and securing the wild-card spot with a tiebreaker over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Call me crazy, call me deluded, call me what you will, but don't forget to call me after my prediction comes true.
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