Chargers Film Study: Philip Rivers' Old Habits Die Hard

Brian Bahr

Was Rivers as good as his statline indicated? Jerome Watson thinks otherwise and takes a look into a few plays that could've and should've been converted by the Chargers Quarterback

The San Diego Chargers laid an egg in Oakland late Sunday Night. Every Chargers unit left a lot to desired. I'm here to be critical of one position: The Quarterback.

When you revert to Philip Rivers stats, 411 yards is somewhat masterful... but I continue to look beyond the statistics with Philip. His mechanics for the offense have greatly improved. He is obviously playing well from a stat standpoint, but when you actually chart his throws, you'll begin to notice things that are all too familiar:

  • Holding on to the ball too long
  • Staring Wide ReceiversDown
  • Making mind up before ball is snapped

Let's get into it.

Rivers-allen-coaches_medium

Rivers-allen-coaches_medium

This was a fake off of Inside Zone action. Earlier in the game, Whisenhunt called a similar play with similar action (Follow/ "Switch" Follow). That time, Keenan Allen ran a short dig and the pass attempt was broken up by a Raiders defensive back.

The defensive back bit hard on that particular play and Ken Whisenhunt wisely came back to it. This go around, he had Keenan Allen do a double move. It worked perfectly. The Raiders CB bit on it, the safety bit on the post in middle and Rivers had a better window to his left, he just never looked.

Yes, the play resulted in a completion, and positive yards were earned, but you want your quarterback making easy throws. While it was properly placed, throwing into a triangle of defenders almost never ends well. Especially when you haven't looked any of them off. He got away with one there.

Rivers-royal-sideline_medium

Rivers-royal-coaches_medium

Ugh.

This one hurt my feelings when I ran the tape back. It's 3rd down and Oakland is in Cover 1 here. The San Diego offense has man coverage across the board. Philip noticed Vincent Brown was locked up to his right and came back to Antonio Gates, who was running his patent "Whip Route".

The cornerback covering Eddie Royal bit on the break by Keenan Allen (at the top of the image), possibly assuming the Chargers were going with a short pass with only two yards to go to convert a first down. Royal (following the yellow arrow) is now released into the middle of the field and the safety is on the far hash mark. Philip already had his mind made up though and the Chargers didn't get enough to convert the first down.

This too was a completed pass but Philip Rivers had time here and left yards, even possible points, on the field.

Photo_1_medium

You're right, this play wouldn't have gotten the Chargers six points, but had Philip Rivers looked anywhere other than Eddie Royal, he may been able to keep the drive going and possibly get San Diego points before the half.

Raiders DB Tracy Porter never bit on the route and had it absolutely smothered. Keenan Allen was given the sticks and knowingly took it, he was naked at the breaking point. Philip, again, missed him and took a sack on the very next play, leading the Chargers to punt.

This is a perfect example of Rivers staring receivers down and prematurely making his mind up. It's not nitpicking, it's the truth.

Summary

When you go to the scorecards, Philip Rivers' statline is not one to be argued. 36 completions on 49 attempts is simply monstrous, but that's not my point here. In order for San Diego to consistently win ball games, these plays need to be taken full advantage of.

None of these plays that I outlined featured Philip being under pressure. None of these plays featured players breaking open AFTER Philip released the ball. This is him simply making his mind up at the line of scrimmage. Clean it up, 17.

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