– Posted by Jay Paris –
It’s a chant usually heard up north and now it’s time for Chargers fans to join in.
When Philip Rivers takes the field on Sunday, when he completes a pass, when he leads the Chargers to their fourth straight victory, a cry should rise from Qualcomm Stadium: “MVP, MVP, MVP.”
One month does not make a season, but what a flip of the calendar it’s been for No. 17.
“In my mind he is playing better than anyone in the National Football League at this point,” tight end Antonio Gates said.
That’ll raise some eyebrows in Houston, where linebacker J.J. Watt is lighting it up on both sides of the ball. But imagine the Bolts’ lot in life minus the quarterback with the slow drawl and quick release.
Not a comforting thought, is it?
So while the Chargers search for a running game to complement Rivers, take a cue from our northern neighbors. As unsettling as that sounds.
Remember when the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant stepped to the foul line to the chants of “MVP, MVP, MVP!”
Did you hear Dodgers patrons serenade Clayton Kershaw with hoots of “MVP, MVP, MVP!”
And in Anaheim it’s not Mickey Mouse to yell “MVP, MVP, MVP!” when Mike Trout strolls to the plate.
Rivers deserves the same respect and so what if the rest of the league is just catching on.
In his 11th season, Rivers has never been better. Under coach Mike McCoy’s no-huddle, no-nonsense offense, Rivers has flowed. He’s completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,115 yards and nine touchdowns, against one interception.
That earned him the AFC offensive player of the month award, the fourth time he’s won it.
No other Charger has that many.
No other Charger, not named LaDainian Tomlinson has ever been MVP.
No wonder Rivers’ candidacy is picking up steam with the Chargers at 3-1 and atop the AFC West.
It’s one thing for Rivers to be noticed in our cul de sac of the West Coast. But the chatter regarding Rivers is gaining momentum among the NFL talking heads and insiders.
And with the Jets coming in this week, the New York Jets, the East Coast will get a full heaping of Rivers.
Considering the Jets’ ability to stop the run and their shaky secondary, Rivers could accumulate some impressive numbers. Of course Rivers, always the son of a prep coach, will trade gaudy stats for a good ol’ victory.
“I don’t care if I complete 58 percent for 180 yards,” Rivers said. “If we find a way to win.’’
Rivers is getting discovered, in part, because of his exceptional stable of receivers.
He’s always had good targets over the years in Keenan McCardell, Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd.
Gates and Floyd are still running routes, and when joined by Keenan Allen, Eddie Royal and Ladarius Green, it’s a wealth of unselfish hands.
“There are no prima donnas on the team,” Gates said. “Every week it’s someone stepping up.’’ With Rivers standing tall in the pocket, going eeny, meeny, miny, moe as he picks defenses apart as they pick their poison.
Double teams are effective, unless the savvy Rivers is dissecting a coverage in his pre-snap read. He’s quick to check into a pattern, or receiver, that gives the Chargers the most on their return.
“That’s what we focus on,” Gates said. “No telling who it might be this week.’’
For four straight weeks, it’s been Rivers. And if everyone else is finally zeroing in on this San Diego treasure, that’s on them.
“We believe in each other,” Gates added. “And what ever the defense gives us, we try to take advantage of it.’’
Their biggest edge comes from the man releasing those passes. None of his colleagues can match Rivers’ passer rating and it’s true his streak without an interception has hit 117 straight heaves.
“He’s playing at a high level,” Gates said.
Everyone is starting to realize it, too.
“It’s never been a secret of what he is capable of doing,” Gates said. “We have all the confidence in the world that he can get it done.’’
Same goes for Chargers fans doing their part. Sunday is their day to clear their throat, to be loud and proud, and let Rivers be associated with three celebrated letters: “MVP, MVP, MVP!”
When Paul McCartney shouted “Go Chargers” recently at Petco Park, he really meant “Go Rivers.”
One doesn’t go anywhere without the other.
Does this season’s long and winding road end with the Bolts in the playoffs and Rivers as the MVP?
For the Chargers, that would be more than A-OK.