Despite all the fun had at his expense (the most well-crafted stuff comes courtesy of our friends at Kissing Suzy Kolber) Philip Rivers has become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Sadly experts often refer to Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees as the “Big Three” but frankly, not including Rivers in that conversation is ludicrous after what he’s done over the past few years.
Last year Rivers finished with a quarterback rating of 104.4 (third in the NFL), a 65.2 completion percentage and 4,254 yards, while throwing for 28 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. His yards per attempt (8.75) was best in the NFL as well. And that all came with a running game that was dead last in the NFL in yards per game. Everyone knew Rivers was going to be throwing and he still put up those numbers.
In 2008 Rivers led the NFL in quarterback rating (105.5), touchdown passes (34) and yards per attempt (8.39), while finishing fifth in yards (4,009).
This season the seventh year pro leads the NFL in passing yards with 2,944 (second place is Drew Brees with 2,587), yards per attempt (8.95), touchdowns (19), is fifth in completion percentage (65.4), and is third in quarterback rating (102.9) but the two guys ahead of him (Michael Vick and Vince Young) have each missed games with injuries.
Rivers has been putting up those ridiculous numbers playing the entire season without his top receiver Vincent Jackson. On top of that, Rivers’ receiving corps has been decimated by injuries. Current No. 1 receiver Malcolm Floyd has missed three straight weeks with a hamstring injury. No. 2 receiver Legedu Naanee is also dealing with a hamstring injury that has forced him to miss four straight games, while No. 3 wideout Buster Davis went on injured reserve last week with a groin injury.
On top of all of that, the best tight end in football, Antonio Gates, has not been 100 percent for the past month and missed Sunday’s matchup with the Houston Texans with a foot injury.
So Rivers has been putting up his ridiculous numbers while throwing to the likes of Patrick Crayton (a Dallas Cowboys castoff), Randy McMichael (Gates’ backup) and undrafted rookie Seyi Ajirotutu.
The results on Sunday with his top three receivers out and Gates not in the game, were stunning. Rivers threw for 295 yards while completing 17-of-23 passes, for four touchdowns.
Rivers is currently on pace to shatter Dan Marino’s single-season record for passing yards (5,084) as he is currently projected to hit a mark of 5,234 yards.
The Chargers currently sit at 4-5 and are relaxing on their bye week. But the team’s struggles can hardly be ascribed to Rivers. Awful special teams gaffes have cost the Bolts at least three games this year and the team has lost those 5 games by a combined total of 28 points. Rivers has held up his end of the bargain. Now it’s time for the rest of the roster to follow suit.
At this point in the season, there shouldn’t be any question that Philip Rivers has been the most valuable player to his team in the NFL.