“Big Stat QB-Needs Big Game”
The Chargers Next Chance Might Be the Quarterback’s Last Chance”
Philip Rivers has spent his entire NFL career putting up big numbers. Now he needs the biggest game of his life to possibly put an exclamation point to a fine regular season.
The numbers the legendary Chargers QB has put up this season are staggering, surpassing some of the great seasons he’s had in the past. But for all the great campaigns he’s had in the past, it’s always been a black mark, he was never able to get to the ‘next game’ in the postseason games he’s played.
Rivers heads to Baltimore with some staggering stats packed in his travel bag, (4,308-yards passing….32-TDs….12-interceptions….68% completion rate…a 105-QB rating)
He’s led his team to a (7-1) road record. The Chargers won where they had hardly ever won before, at Pittsburgh, at Seattle, at Kansas City. They earned this next road trip.
His career numbers are impressive too, a (118-90) won lost mark…a (52-52) record on the road….a (44-21) record in December and January games…and a (122-95) overall record.
But when it comes to this time of the year, Rivers is just (4-5) in the postseason. His QB rating, which is usually around 100 is only (85) in playoff games. He has just 11TDs-9-interceptions and 20-sacks in those 9-post season outings.
Rivers has just 1-playoff win in a Lightning Bolt helmet, dating back to 2008, a decade ago.
He goes into Baltimore with a (3-5) record against the Ravens defense, once led by Ray Lewis, now fueled by his close friend Eric Weddle. His QB career rating against he guys wearing Purple & Black is just 87.
Two weeks ago the Ravens blitzed him, overpowered his offensive line, knocked him off his spot, or knocked him down on his spot. Baltimore came into his stadium and held his offense to just (121Y) thru the first three quarters, before giving up yards in garbage time.
Rivers took 4-sacks, threw 2-picks, there was a fumble, and he took 7-hits and 7-pressures. Baltimore added in 5-tackles for losses, holding the Bolts to (198Y) in total offense.
When he makes his pre snap reads on Sunday morning, he will be looking at blitz packages off the edge, stunts and scrapes off the interior, zone blitzes, deep drops, press coverage of his wide receivers, and the knowledge that his backs and receivers will have to earn tough yards after contact.
As dynamic as Rivers’ offense has been most of the year, it’s not the same chemistry now because of injuries. Melvin Gordon had the sprained knee, then a minor ankle problem. His running mate Austin Ekeler had the neck nerve issue, a minor concussion and now has a groin. Wide out Keenan Allen had a hip pointer. Antonio Gates has age issues and doesn’t seem capable of being a 60-minute man any longer on offense.
The edge tackles, Russell Okung and Sam Tavi haven’t played well in recent weeks. The guards, Dan Feeney and Michael Schofield have been beaten on stunts, twists, scrapes and blitzes three weeks in a row.
Maybe defensive coordinators have finally found a flaw, or maybe it’s just that they are not playing Buffalo or Cleveland or other have nots now.
Come Sunday, the Bolts will have seen most everything Baltimore can throw at a team defensively. The Chargers need to show up with a different approach. There have to be new pages, yet to be used in that playbook.
Rivers cannot stand in the pocket waiting for deep passing routes to come open. The Bolts need to spread the field, spray the ball, throw crossing patterns and slants. They need to get the Ravens out of blitz mode, keep that defense on the field, and wear them down.
If Rivers can engineer long drives, then get the ball back quickly, go hurry up, and pile up the fatigue factor on that front seven.
Sunday will be more than just Rivers playing well. Keenan Allen needs to make a lot of catches. Mike Williams and Tyrell Williams need catches and not dropped passes. Travis Benjamin has to be a different maker, not a pass dropper on his crossing routes. Melvin Gordon needs to be out in space catching the ball.
The Chargers offense knows it’s going to get punched in the mouth. The bigger issue will be if the Bolts can use lightning strike plays to get out to an early lead. Make Lamar Jackson play catchup from a 14-0 or 17-0 deficit.
I’m leery however, if Jackson struggles, Joe Flacco, now healthy, and a mad bomber, could come in and present a whole group of new pages of the playbook, the Chargers might not be ready for.
We’ve seen greatness from this Bolts quarterback, the 400-yard games, the 25-completions in a row game, the 4th quarter drives. His career stats show over 54,600-yards passing….374TDs….a 97-career rating….178-interceptions.
The question isn’t so much can Rivers top what he has already done in a possible Hall of Fame career, but whether his supporting cast can have the games of their lives this weekend, so they can play the following weekend.
The last time he played in something so important, the 2008-playoff game in New England, his star running back LaDanian Tomlinson sat on the bench, helmet on, looking down at the ground, out with a bruised knee. The QB coming off a knee scope the week prior, stayed on the field but Rivers had no touchdowns-two picks, two sacks watching the Patriots pull away in the AFC title game.
They’ve never been close since then, with just 1-playoff win since that 2008-season. They were so close, but have been so far away since the cold night in Foxboro.
The big stat quarterback needs a big game, and so does everyone on the offense, so there can be another big game the following weekend.
Never-say-Never with Philip Rivers, who refuses to lose. He needs to win Sunday in Baltimore to make everyone else forget all the disappointments over all the years, despite all the big stats from the big star QB.
Rivers next chance-might be his last chance to drive a team to the Super Bowl.