Chargers QB Philip Rivers could be primed for one more comeback player of the year award in 2017. The eternal, well-spring of hope that is the NFL preseason may not be the only reason to expect a return to form of sorts for the veteran quarterback. Following a 2016 season where the salty vet put up a career high in terms of interceptions and a career low in terms of completion percentage, some have speculated that his best days are behind him. Meanwhile, others have sighted reason for optimism.
Andy Terhaar at Bolts from the Blue went deep on this piece to make the argument that a better supporting cast will indirectly translate into fewer interceptions simply by virtue of playing from behind less often. Seems reasonable even if only from the stand point that pressing, or reaching for a play that isn’t there is more tempting when you’re behind.
As many have pointed out, Rivers has been pressed to take on more than his fair share of the burden in recent years. Over the course of the last several seasons, #17 has done whatever asked without protest or complaint, despite the lack of anything resembling NFL caliber pass protection, a running game he could count on, and often without his primary weapons. As well, the coaching staff’s utter failure to address issues with the special teams units had continually hurt the team in terms of field position. While much depends on how well the reshuffled offensive line and redesigned rushing attack comes together, there’s real potential.
What might help Rivers most of all, is a more favorable run/pass ratio. As Cian Fahey at Presnapreads.com points out, quarterbacks over 35 have a limited shelf-life when it comes to arm-strength over the course of a 16-game season. Certainly, if Rivers is asked to throw the ball 578 times again this season, you can bank on a sharp dip in accuracy beginning around week 14, or so.
In fact, a quick glance at his career stats suggests a strong correlation between Rivers efficiency and the number of passes he’s thrown. Prior to last season, the only other time Rivers threw more than 18 picks was in 2013 when he threw the ball 586 times.
If Coach Lynn can realize his vision for the running game, and there’s recent precedent to support the idea that he can, Rivers could very well benefit from a fresher arm down the stretch. Moreover, recommitting to the run game will keep opposing defenses more honest, and make play action more effective. All of this in mind, no one should be surprised if Rivers’ bounces back in 2017.