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Player Spotlight: Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers (1 Viewer)

Jason Wood

Zoo York
2013 Player Spotlight Series

One of Footballguys best assets is our message board community. The Shark Pool is, in our view, the best place on the internet to discuss, debate and analyze all things fantasy football. In what's become an annual tradition, the Player Spotlight series is a key part of the preseason efforts. As many of you know, we consider the Player Spotlight threads the permanent record for analyzing the fantasy prospects of the player in question. This year, we plan to publish more than 140 offensive spotlights covering the vast majority of expected skill position starters.

As always we will post a list of players to be discussed each week. Those threads will remain open for the entire preseason, and should be a central point to discuss expectations for the player in question.

Thread Topic: Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers

Player Page Link: Philip Rivers Player Page

Each article will include:

  • Detailed viewpoint from a Footballguys staff member
  • Links to thoughtful viewpoints from around the Web
  • FBG Projections

The Rules

In order for this thread to provide maximum value, we ask that you follow a few simple guidelines:

  • Focus commentary on the player (or players) in question, and your expectations for said player (or players)
  • Back up your expectations in whatever manner you deem appropriate; avoid posts that simply say "I hate him" or "He's the best"
  • Avoid redundancies or things like "good posting" ... this should be about incremental analysis or debate

While not a requirement, we strongly encourage you to provide your own projections for the player (players):

Projections should include:

  • For QBs: Attempts, Completions, Passing Yards, Passing TDs, Ints, Rush Attempts, Rush Yards, Rush TDs
  • For RBs: Rushes, Rushing Yards, Rush TDs, Receptions, Receiving Yards, Receiving TDs
  • For WRs & TEs: Receptions, Receiving Yards, Receiving TDs

Now let's get on with the conversation! We look forward to your contributions and let me offer a personal thanks in anticipation of the great debate and analysis.

 

bostonfred

Footballguy
The biggest problem rivers had over the last couple years was not injury or offensive line, but a stale offense. I don't just mean the playcalling. Norv has a great offensive mind, but san diego didn't have the right talent for the system which originally made rivers so successful. Its easy to throw deep to vincent jackson, a young gates, malcolm floyd, and dump off to ladainian tomlinson in the prime of his career behind a decent line. Much harder when vjax is gone, gates is old and dinged up, floyd is facing opponents number ones, and mathews and ronnie brown are mediocre behind arguably the worst o line support he had seen in his career. If rivers was dinged up - and he may have been - then no wonder his stats declined.

The good news is that the system is changing, and rivers is excited, and everybodys happy again. That's great. But the real question is the surrounding talent. The good news is that most of these problems have been addressed. The bad news is that there are just so many question marks. An exciting but fragile third year receiver. An all time great tight end on the back end of his career. A rookie o lineman. Danny woodhead. A healthy rivers. It ll comes down to whether some or all of those things work out.

To me, rivers is a fantastic risk/reward pick, because if things work out, you should see results fairly early in the season. If not, he still has enough name value that you can swap him for another qb2. But anyone counting on him as a qb1 or trying to project final numbers is just guesing.

 

benbadman

Footballguy
I am liking Rivers a lot this year in best ball draftmasters formats. He can be had for cheap in the 12th to 15th round and will give you 4 to 6+ starts.

Rivers is two years removed from being a perennial top 10 fantasy QB. The problem is San Diego has lost more weapons than they have added, plus their line is bottom 10 in the league (to be kind). They added a solid tackle in the draft. They should have at least 3 new starters on the OL, and after allowing 49 sacks last year while only getting a team 3.6 ypc in the run game, they can improve to middle of the pack.

So for Rivers, it probably can't get worse than 2012. His lack of offensive playmakers means his ceiling is fringe top 10 if he plays all 16 games and limits turnovers. For fantasy he is a matchup play, and in a deep QB class, Rivers is a solid backup should your QB1 go down.

3800 yards 28 TD with 14 INT. 340-550 attempts. If the running game struggles again he has opportunity to put up better numbers with closer to 600 pass attempts

 

Beerguzzler

Footballguy
4800 36TDs 13 INTs

I see Rivers having a career year. The O line has been solidified to being average now, which is a massive step up from last season. The biggest improvement however has come at the skill positions. Rivers will have a full season with Alexander, Brown, rookie Allen, Floyd, and Gates. Throw in a little Woodhead magic as well, and this is a massive upgrade to what he had to work with the past two seasons.

 

Borden

Footballguy
With the amount of yards that QBs put now Rivers just isn't worth the risk. His career best put against last years numbers would've put him 6th in yards and tied for 4th in TDs ***I should note that his careers bests weren't from the same year.*** Then when you add in that Rivers doesn't do anything as far as running the ball I don't see much value in him. There is so many questions marks around this offense that if things go sideways on them who knows how far it could down it fall.

 

Beerguzzler

Footballguy
With the amount of yards that QBs put now Rivers just isn't worth the risk. His career best put against last years numbers would've put him 6th in yards and tied for 4th in TDs ***I should note that his careers bests weren't from the same year.*** Then when you add in that Rivers doesn't do anything as far as running the ball I don't see much value in him. There is so many questions marks around this offense that if things go sideways on them who knows how far it could down it fall.
I don't think anyone is arguing that there aren't question marks, but at his ADP he's a steal IMO. He was an MVP candidate going into 2011 and was coming off a top 3 ranking in fantasy. Then the wheels fell off the offense due to loss of players, injuries, etc. There's is varying opinions to whether they can be reattached, but if you don't believe in taking QBs early like I do, he would be a guy I target who can significantly out produce his ADP.It's hard for anyone outside of SD to truly recognize how bad the line was last year on the left side. Worst ever isn't a stretch.
 
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KrazyKyle

Footballguy
I'm really convinced we've since the best of Phillip Rivers. The surrounding talent is my biggest concern. The O-line is not improved. The addition of Max Starks is not an upgrade at LT. Vasquez is a huge loss as well. Fluker is a mauler in the run game but we've seen what Matthews has to offer, and it's pedestrian. Gates is clearly on the downside of his career. Speculation on MacGahee being added which might be a perfect fit, so we'll see. The wide receivers are the highlight of the offense but still have a spotty track record. As a QB2 I won't knock picking Rivers but I would much rather have a higher upside pick at that point in the draft.

I see a repeat of his numbers last year.

 

craxie

Footballguy
The addition of Max Starks is not an upgrade at LT.
Max Starks is below average.In other words he's a massive upgrade over historically bad Mike Harris.Tyronne Green was the starting left guard. He didn't even last 2 weeks with the Patriots.
I see a repeat of his numbers last year.
Massively better left side of the line, the addition of Brown and Woodhead and having DX for a whole season (injury concerns notwithstanding), he will easily surpass last year.
 

Beerguzzler

Footballguy
The addition of Max Starks is not an upgrade at LT.
Max Starks is below average.In other words he's a massive upgrade over historically bad Mike Harris.Tyronne Green was the starting left guard. He didn't even last 2 weeks with the Patriots.
I see a repeat of his numbers last year.
Massively better left side of the line, the addition of Brown and Woodhead and having DX for a whole season (injury concerns notwithstanding), he will easily surpass last year.
Like I mentioned earlier, people that just look at stats and didn't see that line play all year, just don't understand just how bad the left side of the line was. I wasn't exaggerating when I said it may have been the worst ever.

 

KrazyKyle

Footballguy
Listen, I'm a cardinals fan, so I know a bad line when I see it.

The Chargers seriously failed to address the main issue they had last year. They let one if the best guards walk in free agency. Drafted a run blocking RIGHT tackle in the first round. And acquired Max Starks. If you think Starks is an upgrade then more power to you. I do not see it. I like Phillip Rivers, a true competitor. And have always like DX, but who knows if he can stay healthy a full 16 (I hope he does). There is a chance for Rivers to bounce back of coarse, but I wouldn't bet on it. Just for comparison, I'd rather take Tannenhill, Bradford, or Palmer as a higher upside as my QB2.

 

RushHour

Footballguy
I can see the arguments for why he might be a value at his ADP and a decent QB2, but after suffering through a lot of last season after drafting him as my QB1, I just can't go there. It was truly depressing to own this guy and I just can't bring myself to draft him, no matter how late it is. As a backup, you could probably do a lot worse, but if you're planning to ignore QB until very late and rely on Rivers to any great degree in a QB by committee situation, you're going to be in a lot of trouble IMO.

 

Khy

Footballguy
In a lot of my leagues this year I'll be targeting Rivers and Freeman fairly later in the draft. Rivers finished at QB21 last season with 1 WR, the worst O line in football and no real RB to speak of behind him. This year (in my opinion) they've made some upgrades to the line, Woodhead should add some to the backfield and he'll have a healthy Vincent Brown, DX and Keenan Allen to throw to. I'm not saying he matches his 2010 numbers but I'll take a shot at the following projection:

4300 yards, 29 TDs, 14 INTs

 

Just Win Baby

Footballguy
Listen, I'm a cardinals fan, so I know a bad line when I see it. The Chargers seriously failed to address the main issue they had last year. They let one if the best guards walk in free agency. Drafted a run blocking RIGHT tackle in the first round. And acquired Max Starks. If you think Starks is an upgrade then more power to you. I do not see it. I like Phillip Rivers, a true competitor. And have always like DX, but who knows if he can stay healthy a full 16 (I hope he does). There is a chance for Rivers to bounce back of coarse, but I wouldn't bet on it. Just for comparison, I'd rather take Tannenhill, Bradford, or Palmer as a higher upside as my QB2.
First, on Vasquez, here is where PFF rated him among guards that took at least 25% of their teams' snaps the past 4 years:

2009 - overall #27, tied for #61 in pass blocking

2010 - overall tied for #26, #42 in pass blocking

2011 - overall #30, #23 in pass blocking

2012 - overall tied for #13, tied for #9 in pass blocking

That is certainly a nice progression of improvement, but last season looks like a bit of an outlier. It remains to be seen if he can maintain that level of production. It could easily be that the rest of the Chargers' OL was comparatively weaker, leading defenses to focus their attack elsewhere on the line last season.

As for your general suggestion that the Chargers have not really improved their OL, here is a great post from the Chargers thread:

Can anyone give me a summary of the state of the O-line? Like a comparison from last year to this year. If I've kept track correctly, the only returning starter is Center - Hardwick, right? They drafted Fluker and signed Starks for their tackles, which should be a pretty decent combo. So who are the guards and what is the outlook on them in 2013? From boltbacker's post at the top of this page, I'm guessing they are scrubs and might be replaced with cuts from other teams when rosters get trimmed down.
Starks - Rinehart - Hardwick - Clary- FlukerIt's a significant upgrade to last year's O line despite what some people say. One aspect that goes completely over looked is the run blocking. Everyone loves to point to the pass blocking, but most don't realize we were 28th rushing the ball. If anyone closely watches the line play during runs, they will agree with me that it was horrid last season. We got no push, consistently let defensive players into the back field on runs. It was a down right disaster. Here is where we will see the true upgrade this season.

Fluker isn't known as the best pass blocker in the draft. He was known as the best, ELITE, run blocker. He is truly a road grader. He will get a push off the line. He can down block and eliminate DT's giving our RB's the edge. He is a MASSIVE upgrade to Clary in this regard.

Now let's talk about Clary. I'm happy someone finally realized he was much better utilized as a OG, than a tackle. He couldn't handle the outside edge, move him inside and you let him use his biggest asset - his strength and nastiness. Giving him a short area to work in and letting him ignore anyone but the guy directly in front of him is the best thing he could possibly hope for. Vasquez last season was a fine pass blocker, but was awful in run downs. He simply couldn't get a push inside. He was consistently pushed back off the ball. I don't believe this will happen to Clary. He has a strong base with long arms that will help maintain his base and keep the DT's out of the back field. We should actually be able to see some running lanes with him and Fluker providing some daylight. Not sure we'll see Clary being the road grader Fluker is, but he should be able to hold his position and create lanes, something that Vasquez wasn't able to do.

Hardwick didn't have the best of seasons, we could probably afford to upgrade him next season, but he's at least very adept at providing all the line calls and picking up blitzes (at least according to Rivers). Just hoping he can stay healthy and maybe Molk can push him for the starting job this season.

Rinehart is an upgrade to Green if he can stay healthy. He's excelled when he's been able to get in the lineup. Health is an issue though. He's ended up on IR almost every year. Troutman will challenge for the starting position. This should be an interesting camp battle to look at. Ideally Troutman wins this job outright since he's our only longterm prospect other than Fluker.

Starks should be a significant upgrade to Harris. I know he didn't grade out fantastic last season on PFF, but he was also coming back early from an ACL reconstruction. From all reports he's in great shape since he's been able to train all offseason and not have to rehab any injuries. He should be a steady addition on the outside and will form likely the biggest bookend tandem in the league with Fluker. Ideally he can come into camp closer to 330lbs than the 345lbs he's played at which would give him a bit more mobility to handle pass rushers. Being a full year removed from his ACL should only help. Don't discount how valuable his experience and intelligence will play in this pickup. So many of the issues last season between Harris and Green were because they couldn't handle blitzes/stunts that defenses would throw at them. There were so many missed assignments that it was difficult for Rivers to have any continuity in the passing game (not to mention the ridiculous amount of 7 step drops that Norv stubbornly called every damn time).

It won't be an all pro line, but it's a significant upgrade from what we threw out there last season. Add in a short quick passing game and an effective running game (crossing fingers Matthews can actually stay on the field) and this offense will be back in the top 10.
This post suggests the run blocking will improve a lot. That alone will help Rivers and the passing game, since it implies a stronger running game and thus less ability for the defense to simply focus on rushing the passer.

But it should also be a better pass blocking line. Perhaps still below average, but not bottom of the league bad like last season.

This post also mentions the likelihood of fewer 7 step drops and the addition of Woodhead to help in the short passing game. All of those things, combined with the return of Vincent Brown, an offseason, preseason, and potential full season of Alexander, and the addition of Allen, should support significant improvement for Rivers this season.

 
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Borden

Footballguy
Okay so the O-Line should be improved but how much?

From 28th to 17th best? That's a huge jump and still keeps them in the bottom half and really that is if everything works out well on a line filled with new players. And from everything I've read here it seems to be a line that is geared towards the run so that doesn't really scream fantasy production for Rivers. To start the year this line will need time to gel and learn the system. It might not be a huge issue but it is another question mark.

Has the receiving core improved enough to be a huge threat?

The injury concerns with make me worry. The fact that almost every single pass catcher has injury issues is crazy. Gates is slowing down and I don't think anybody is really arguing that. Alexander has looked good but I don't think he is proven yet. Allen is a third round (the injury, yes I know) rookie who might or might not be a good NFLer. Brown (another 3rd round pick) has 19 NFL catches and it wasn't like he had a crazy rookie season to look back on and project a future Pro Bowler. Matthews is a whole can of worms that I don't want to get into. Woodhead himself should help on passing does but he's not really a game changer.

All that aside, the league has changed. There too many QBs putting up very high numbers. Even if Rivers matches his career highs in Yards and TDs (both a 30% jump from last years numbers) he still would've only finished 6th and tied for 4th against last years numbers. Count in the guys put up numbers with their feet Rivers might not even be able to break the into the QB1 range with his career bests. Again, this is if pretty much every thing works out around him.

Sorry to say but Rivers is undraftable for me at this point his ceiling isn't high enough and there are just way too many "if's" surrounding him. Even at his ADP, I'd still rather take Freeman, Bradford, Palmer or Schuab after him as a QB2.

 
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msudaisy26

Footballguy
4800 36TDs 13 INTs I see Rivers having a career year. The O line has been solidified to being average now, which is a massive step up from last season. The biggest improvement however has come at the skill positions. Rivers will have a full season with Alexander, Brown, rookie Allen, Floyd, and Gates. Throw in a little Woodhead magic as well, and this is a massive upgrade to what he had to work with the past two seasons.
Can we get some baby steps with all those unproven or past their prime parts.

 

Phenix

Footballguy
4800 36TDs 13 INTs I see Rivers having a career year. The O line has been solidified to being average now, which is a massive step up from last season. The biggest improvement however has come at the skill positions. Rivers will have a full season with Alexander, Brown, rookie Allen, Floyd, and Gates. Throw in a little Woodhead magic as well, and this is a massive upgrade to what he had to work with the past two seasons.
Can we get some baby steps with all those unproven or past their prime parts.
I like Rivers this year with McCoy runnin the ship, but not as well as you think... 4300 with 30/18

 

FF Ninja

Footballguy
I like Rivers this year, given his price. QB19 is a steal for a guy who finished QB18 during a total train wreck season. His line should be better, his WRs will be better, and the play calling couldn't be worse. It is true that his line will still be below average, but it was atrocious last year. Prior to last year, he had 4 seasons in a row of top 10 finishes and 7.9 ypa or better. Unless the new coaching staff is a total flop, he should at least be a fringe QB1.

550 att x 7.8 ypa = 4,290 yds 28 TD 14 INT

 

5Rings

Lurker
The biggest problem rivers had over the last couple years was not injury or offensive line, but a stale offense. I don't just mean the playcalling. Norv has a great offensive mind, but san diego didn't have the right talent for the system which originally made rivers so successful. Its easy to throw deep to vincent jackson, a young gates, malcolm floyd, and dump off to ladainian tomlinson in the prime of his career behind a decent line. Much harder when vjax is gone, gates is old and dinged up, floyd is facing opponents number ones, and mathews and ronnie brown are mediocre behind arguably the worst o line support he had seen in his career. If rivers was dinged up - and he may have been - then no wonder his stats declined. The good news is that the system is changing, and rivers is excited, and everybodys happy again. That's great. But the real question is the surrounding talent.
This is a very good analysis, but I disagree and don't think the problems have been fixed. The surrounding talent is very poor, including one of the worst OLs in the league. Who is Rivers going to throw to?

I like the player, but hate him in fantasy, and I'm not alone. I can't give him away right now. Hold until he switches teams or SD brings in some offensive firepower to help the poor guy.

330-580, 3900, 17 td - 17 int

 

bostonfred

Footballguy
I agree with both of you. All of those additions could be awesome. Or none of them. Or just one or two. And that's my point. Its hard enough to say how a guy's stats will be affected by a coaching change, or o line change, or new receiver, or a pass catching back, or an injury prone receiving corps, or any of the things rivers is going through. Trying to guess the effects in june is just that - guessing. Rivers has high upside, and could certainly bounce back this year in a big way, but he's a lottery ticket qb. Imo he belongs a little higher on the list of lottery qbs because he has name value if he sucks again and you need to trade him, and because you will know within the first couple of weeks whether those additions seem to be working out. But writing down a projection for him at this point in the offseason is a fool's errand.

 

ldizzle

Footballguy
The biggest problem rivers had over the last couple years was not injury or offensive line, but a stale offense. I don't just mean the playcalling. Norv has a great offensive mind, but san diego didn't have the right talent for the system which originally made rivers so successful. Its easy to throw deep to vincent jackson, a young gates, malcolm floyd, and dump off to ladainian tomlinson in the prime of his career behind a decent line. Much harder when vjax is gone, gates is old and dinged up, floyd is facing opponents number ones, and mathews and ronnie brown are mediocre behind arguably the worst o line support he had seen in his career. If rivers was dinged up - and he may have been - then no wonder his stats declined. The good news is that the system is changing, and rivers is excited, and everybodys happy again. That's great. But the real question is the surrounding talent.
This is a very good analysis, but I disagree and don't think the problems have been fixed. The surrounding talent is very poor, including one of the worst OLs in the league. Who is Rivers going to throw to?I like the player, but hate him in fantasy, and I'm not alone. I can't give him away right now. Hold until he switches teams or SD brings in some offensive firepower to help the poor guy.

330-580, 3900, 17 td - 17 int
Alexander, Floyd, gates, woodhead, brown and Allen. Are some pretty decent weapons and a huge step up from last year. :confused:
I agree with those numbers. Im not sold on this offensive line and im a chargers fan. Alexander has some bum knees and doubt he makes it through all games. Doubt gates makes it as well. I like vbrown the most out of all options but I really dont trust that line which may be the worst in the league.

 
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msudaisy26

Footballguy
The biggest problem rivers had over the last couple years was not injury or offensive line, but a stale offense. I don't just mean the playcalling. Norv has a great offensive mind, but san diego didn't have the right talent for the system which originally made rivers so successful. Its easy to throw deep to vincent jackson, a young gates, malcolm floyd, and dump off to ladainian tomlinson in the prime of his career behind a decent line. Much harder when vjax is gone, gates is old and dinged up, floyd is facing opponents number ones, and mathews and ronnie brown are mediocre behind arguably the worst o line support he had seen in his career. If rivers was dinged up - and he may have been - then no wonder his stats declined. The good news is that the system is changing, and rivers is excited, and everybodys happy again. That's great. But the real question is the surrounding talent.
This is a very good analysis, but I disagree and don't think the problems have been fixed. The surrounding talent is very poor, including one of the worst OLs in the league. Who is Rivers going to throw to?I like the player, but hate him in fantasy, and I'm not alone. I can't give him away right now. Hold until he switches teams or SD brings in some offensive firepower to help the poor guy.

330-580, 3900, 17 td - 17 int
Alexander, Floyd, gates, woodhead, brown and Allen. Are some pretty decent weapons and a huge step up from last year. :confused:
Alexander was solid at the end of last year but it didn't help Rivers much and he is an injury waiting to happen.

Floyd is everything I just said above and he is older.

Woodhead was a nice toy in New England but haven't we seen what happens to offensive players when the leave there and go to a less favorable spot. Randy Moss or Deion Branch.

Brown and Allen are basically unknowns.

 

Just Win Baby

Footballguy
Per PFF, Rivers was under pressure on 38.2% of his dropbacks, which was behind only Vick and Russell Wilson, both of whom create some of that pressure by holding the ball and moving around. So, arguably, Rivers was pressured more than any other QB in the league last year, since he did not contribute to being pressured in the same way as Vick and Wilson. The fact that Norv Turner stubbornly continued to call 7 step drops and long developing pass plays fed into this, and everyone knows Rivers is not great at escaping pressure. Another contributor was the poor quality of Rivers' receiving targets, at least until Alexander showed up. Other than Floyd and Alexander for a partial season, they were slow to work themselves open when they got open at all.

Consider the difference:

No pressure: 362 dropbacks, 265/358 (74.0%), 2724 yards (7.6 ypa), 22 TDs, 7 interceptions, 0 sacks, 107.8 NFL QB rating

Under pressure: 225 dropbacks, 73/169 (43.2%), 882 yards (5.2 ypa), 4 TDs, 8 interceptions, 50 sacks, 48.0 NFL QB rating

Rivers was also just #21 in the league in QB rating on play action. His rating was quite a bit better with no play action. I suspect this was true for two reasons. First, because the running game was so weak, meaning the defense didn't respect the play action. And second because, with so little time in the pocket, running play action gave Rivers slightly less time to look downfield and get the ball out before the pressure got to him.

Fortunately, the OL improvements talked about in this thread should improve both of those areas. And the first area will also be improved by the upgrade in receiving targets.

Consider the breakdown of Rivers' QB rating on passes by direction:

Behind line, left: 87.2

Behind line, middle: 91.3

Behind line, right: 79.2

0-9 yards, left: 97.2

0-9 yards, middle: 97.7

0-9 yards, right: 51.8

10-19 yards, left: 132.0

10-19 yards, middle: 111.5

10-19 yards, right: 102.9

20+ yards, left: 87.0

20+ yards, middle: 61.2

20+ yards, right: 55.3

He was pretty bad on passes to his right. Arguably, that had a lot to do with the WRs. When the season started, Floyd started on the left and Meachem on the right. When Alexander emerged, he started on the left, and Floyd switched to the right. All of Meachem's 408 snaps came from the right. And some snaps for Royal and Ajirotutu were mixed in on the right side.

This illustrates that the return of Alexander for a full season, the return of Vincent Brown, who was set to be the Chargers' #1 WR last season before he was hurt in preseason, and the addition of Keenan Allen can have a major impact on Rivers' performance, since the WR performance on the right side should be much improved.

Also look at how many of his attempts were targeted behind the LOS: 93/102 for just 531 yards (5.2 ypr). In 2011, he was 64/73 for 404 yards (5.5 ypr). In 2010, he was 61/72 for 403 yards (5.6 ypr). That is a major increase in attempts behind the line in 2012, again almost certainly due to pressure and less production from the WRs. Compare that number to Luck under Arians last year. He attempted just 67 passes behind the line despite attempting 100 more passes than Rivers. I expect the offensive play calling to help a lot.

Also consider that Woodhead averaged 11.2 ypr last season, with an average of 9.2 yards after each catch. I realize that was in a different and more potent offense, but it illustrates that those throws behind and near the line could be a good bit more productive this season.

In conclusion:

1. It is underappreciated how much Rivers was affected by pressure last season. Most attribute it simply to the OL, but it was also related to playcalling, a weak running game, and poor WR play, particularly on the right side. There is reason to expect improvement in each of those areas (better pass blocking, better running game, better playcalling, better WR play = less pressure) this season.

2. It is underappreciated how much of an upgrade in passing targets Rivers is getting this season.

I'll get around to some projections in a later post.

 
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Tanner9919

Footballguy
Per PFF, Rivers was under pressure on 38.2% of his dropbacks, which was behind only Vick and Russell Wilson, both of whom create some of that pressure by holding the ball and moving around. So, arguably, Rivers was pressured more than any other QB in the league last year, since he did not contribute to being pressured in the same way as Vick and Wilson. The fact that Norv Turner stubbornly continued to call 7 step drops and long developing pass plays fed into this, and everyone knows Rivers is not great at escaping pressure. Another contributor was the poor quality of Rivers' receiving targets, at least until Alexander showed up. Other than Floyd and Alexander for a partial season, they were slow to work themselves open when they got open at all.

Consider the difference:

No pressure: 362 dropbacks, 265/358 (74.0%), 2724 yards (7.6 ypa), 22 TDs, 7 interceptions, 0 sacks, 107.8 NFL QB rating

Under pressure: 225 dropbacks, 73/169 (43.2%), 882 yards (5.2 ypa), 4 TDs, 8 interceptions, 50 sacks, 48.0 NFL QB rating

Rivers was also just #21 in the league in QB rating on play action. His rating was quite a bit better with no play action. I suspect this was true for two reasons. First, because the running game was so weak, meaning the defense didn't respect the play action. And second because, with so little time in the pocket, running play action gave Rivers slightly less time to look downfield and get the ball out before the pressure got to him.

Fortunately, the OL improvements talked about in this thread should improve both of those areas. And the first area will also be improved by the upgrade in receiving targets.

Consider the breakdown of Rivers' QB rating on passes by direction:

Behind line, left: 87.2

Behind line, middle: 91.3

Behind line, right: 79.2

0-9 yards, left: 97.2

0-9 yards, middle: 97.7

0-9 yards, right: 51.8

10-19 yards, left: 132.0

10-19 yards, middle: 111.5

10-19 yards, right: 102.9

20+ yards, left: 87.0

20+ yards, middle: 61.2

20+ yards, right: 55.3

He was pretty bad on passes to his right. Arguably, that had a lot to do with the WRs. When the season started, Floyd started on the left and Meachem on the right. When Alexander emerged, he started on the left, and Floyd switched to the right. All of Meachem's 408 snaps came from the right. And some snaps for Royal and Ajirotutu were mixed in on the right side.

This illustrates that the return of Alexander for a full season, the return of Vincent Brown, who was set to be the Chargers' #1 WR last season before he was hurt in preseason, and the addition of Keenan Allen can have a major impact on Rivers' performance, since the WR performance on the right side should be much improved.

Also look at how many of his attempts were targeted behind the LOS: 93/102 for just 531 yards (5.2 ypr). In 2011, he was 64/73 for 404 yards (5.5 ypr). In 2010, he was 61/72 for 403 yards (5.6 ypr). That is a major increase in attempts behind the line in 2012, again almost certainly due to pressure and less production from the WRs. Compare that number to Luck under Arians last year. He attempted just 67 passes behind the line despite attempting 100 more passes than Rivers. I expect the offensive play calling to help a lot.

Also consider that Woodhead averaged 11.2 ypr last season, with an average of 9.2 yards after each catch. I realize that was in a different and more potent offense, but it illustrates that those throws behind and near the line could be a good bit more productive this season.

In conclusion:

1. It is underappreciated how much Rivers was affected by pressure last season. Most attribute it simply to the OL, but it was also related to playcalling, a weak running game, and poor WR play, particularly on the right side. There is reason to expect improvement in each of those areas (better pass blocking, better running game, better playcalling, better WR play = less pressure) this season.

2. It is underappreciated how much of an upgrade in passing targets Rivers is getting this season.

I'll get around to some projections in a later post.
thanks! you've sold me!

debating on whether or not to trade for Rivers, you've made it easier to decide!

 

unckeyherb

Footballguy
Grabbed him off waiver wire yesterday. Not sure what to expect from him at this point and with DX out, but if he has some protection he should be able to put up good numbers. Guys only a couple of years removed from top 3-4 status.

 

PhantomJB

Footballguy
Grabbed him off waiver wire yesterday. Not sure what to expect from him at this point and with DX out, but if he has some protection he should be able to put up good numbers. Guys only a couple of years removed from top 3-4 status.
I drafted him late as a backup in a 2-QB league. If he has a decent season he has a tasty matchup at home in Week 16 against Oakland.

 

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