In his 13 seasons as the starting quarterback of the Chargers, Philip Rivers has been on some great teams. From 2006-09, (the first four years of Rivers’ tenure as the starter), the Chargers’ roster was arguably the best in the NFL.
A decade later, Rivers is still part of the Chargers’ roster as they are now the Los Angeles Chargers and are based in Orange County after moving from San Diego last year. Rivers, who still thinks the Chargers should have won a Super Bowl or two back in the heyday, is optimistic that this current Chargers’ version can be as good or better than those teams. Five weeks from his 37th birthday, Rivers is a big reason why the 5-2 Chargers are a contender in the AFC. He is an MVP candidate and is playing as well as he ever has.
“I think we have a chance,” Rivers said in a telephone interview with Clayton Football Thursday from the Chargers’ facility.
Rivers said going into this season – the Chargers finished 9-3 last season after starting 0-4 – that he thought this roster could rival those great Chargers’ rosters from a decade ago. Then, tight end Hunter Henry suffered a torn ACL in May. Then, star pass-rusher Joey Bosa suffered a summer foot injury that is still keeping him from playing and that a before running back Melvin Gordon dealt with injuries this season.
Still, Rivers and the Chargers are a resilient bunch. They have won four straight heading into a game at Seattle on Sunday. Including a trip to London, the Chargers are in the midst of a six-week stretch between playing at home. The StubHub Center, of course, has been a massive gathering place for fans of visiting teams, anyway. These Chargers have a lot going against them. Yet, they keep going. Rivers said it’s the makeup of the team.
“This locker room is as good as it’s ever been,” Rivers said. “We all get along. We go out and say ‘hey, let’s go and get it done on the field.’ It’s really special group.”
Rivers credits second-year Chargers’ coach Anthony Lynn for navigating through all the challenges of the move, injuries and slow starts.
Of course, Rivers deserves credit for the Chargers’ success as well. He has thrown 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He has a passer’s rating of 117.8. If you look at the top of the quarterback stat sheets, you will see the most successful quarterbacks this year are the older, Hall of Fame types. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger all having stellar seasons. Being so focused on his own team’s season, Rivers doesn’t know all the details. But he does know the older quarterbacks are having success.
“I think as long as you’re accurate and make quick decisions in the pocket, you have success at an older age in this career,’ Rivers said. “I think you are seeing that this year.”
The Seattle game marks a special occasion in Rivers’ career. It will be his 200th consecutive start. Only Brett Favre and Peyton and Eli Manning have accomplished that streak as quarterbacks. Rivers — who played in 51 straight games at North Carolina State — grew up as a Favre fan in Alabama. He grew into a big Peyton Manning fan and he and Eli Manning were in the same draft class – and they were traded for each other in 2004.
Rivers calls the streak “meaningful “ and is excited that this is the road trip his family chose to come on. They go on one trip annually and, ironically, this year’s trip is the milestone game. Rivers also gives credits to trainers, medical staff, coaches and teammates for helping he keep this streak alive. He said he’d love to get to Favre’s mark of 297 straight games, that seems like a long way away.
“I honestly don’t care if I throw the ball 10 times a game as long as we win,” Rivers said. “It’s not that I want to throw for 400 yards. I’d hand the ball off every play if it means we win the game. I’m at that point of my career.”