The majority of NFL fans say little should be put into preseason football and all of its results. While that may be true, this preseason for the Chargers, Philip Rivers in particular, has brought some serious concern heading into the season.
From an accuracy standpoint, Rivers wasn’t necessarily bad in the preseason as he completed 24 passes on 30 attempts. The problem, in my opinion, is the four interceptions he threw and the style in which they occurred. Philip Rivers progressed as his awful 2011 year went on, only throwing five picks in last seven games, but the first 15 (over a 9-game span) interceptions were awfully similar to three out of the four interceptions I’ve seen this preseason.
Interceptions are part of the game, I get that. I understand no quarterback will ever be perfect, but it’s not the interception itself that’s bothering me; it’s how they’re happening. Tipped balls, great individual corner play, and (minor) miscommunication errors somewhat warrant an interception during a game. But when interceptions occur based on locking onto receivers and poor decision making under pressure, any coach or player will tell you that’s a cause for concern.
Here are a few things during this preseason that have brought some concern with regard to Philip Rivers:
Locking On To Receivers:
LaDainian Tomlinson brought this up during a game in Green Bay a few years back, if any of you remember. Philip has always locked in before the ball is hiked. It wasn’t a real problem with the individual player talent we possessed, we pretty much had the ability to beat any man to man coverage on any down. It really bit him in the butt in 2011, though, and a few times this preseason.
- Green Bay, Preseason Game 1 :
Third and three on our side of the field. Randy McMichael was shifted in to be an extra blocker. Malcom Floyd was lined up, split left, one-on-one outside. Once the ball was hiked, Rivers looked left and tried to lob a 15-yard pass upfield to Floyd (remember we only needed three). Now, the one-on-one is understandable, and Floyd may have been a “hot” read, but he had protection and time to scan, so the hot route wasn’t necessary. Antonio Gates also had single coverage and ran an option route, but Rivers never looked right. This very play was the first play that landed us a first down earlier, where Rivers went to Gates for six yards instead (remember?).
Second and seven. The beautiful touch pass by Rivers to Gates. “Hooray” for the touchdown, points are points regardless of how they are earned. I get that. Luckily for us though, they had an inexperienced secondary and Gates beat the (double) coverage because Rivers never even looked at anyone else. That play is designed to attack the strong safety (top half of bracket coverage), IF he was healthy for the game, that strong safety is Charles Woodson. Do you think he gets turned around (360) on a post route?
Green Bay, Preseason Game 1:
After the fumble, Rivers threw an interception deep in Green Bay’s territory. Poor decision making on his part. Tramon Williams was lined up 10 yards off of Robert Meachem, which should’ve tipped Rivers that he’s in cover three and a curl route is a common check for that coverage. On a short field though, Williams doesn’t have much sideline to cover, so he’ll just sit, eliminating a chance at any pass inside to Meachem. Philip checked on Gates on the post, looked right, and threw the curl inside. Williams never had to move, since Gates went inside and not to the corner. Meachem was absolutely smothered on the play. Philip forced it in there. That ball should’ve been in the stands. Period.
San Francisco, Preseason Game 4:
This play was every bit of what we saw last year. Chargers are driving and it’s 3rd down, in the redzone. San Francisco sends four on the play and drops seven in a deep zone, blanketing the goal line. Philip kept his eyes downfield (as he should) but any quarterback knows that once that deep zone is set (after 2-3 seconds), the only realistic windows are routes to the corner pylon. Philip forced the ball into Floyd, who was practically in the heart of the zone. Ronnie Brown was next to Philip (practically doing jumping jacks) and could’ve easily gotten five on a dump down. A sack, a throw away and that very dump down should be the only options, as we obviously needed some type of points there. Another bad decision.
This breakdown will lead you to believe I have lost confidence in Philip. That is not the case here. I am critical of every player who is deserving, regardless of status on the team. Rivers is still my quarterback, I still feel he will torch any defense, but I am also realistic and know bad quarterback play when I see it.
As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to comment below.