Managing Expectations: Philip Rivers Edition

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

What can we expect from Philip Rivers this season? Looking back at the history of his new coaches may give us a good indication...

It's fun to be a fan...usually. We get to make decisions and form opinions on players every day with no ramifications...because our decisions and opinions don't really matter. However, following a team can be a lot more fun when we manage our expectations to a reasonable level, since I'm pretty sure that not every starter from the Chargers will make the Pro-Bowl.

Since there has been much talk on this site about Philip Rivers and his transition to the new offense, let's see what the realistic range of expectations for Rivers can/should/might be. I'll start with his new offensive coordinator, then his new head coach, then see how I can combine the two. I'll be looking at overall offense numbers before translating those into individual stats for Rivers.

Ken Whisenhunt

Year Team Run Plays Pass Plays Run % YP Run Pass % YP Pass AYPP QB Comp %
2004 PIT 618 358 63% 4 37% 8.3 5.1 Ben Roethlisberger 64%
2005 PIT 549 379 59% 4 41% 8.2 5.4 Ben Roethlisberger 60%
2006 PIT 469 523 47% 4.2 53% 7.7 5.5 Ben Roethlisberger 60%
2007 ARI 402 590 41% 3.6 59% 7.2 5.4 Kurt Warner 60%
2008 ARI 340 630 35% 3.5 65% 7.7 5.9 Kurt Warner 66%
2009 ARI 365 594 38% 4.1 62% 7.1 5.6 Kurt Warner 66%
2010 ARI 320 561 36% 4.3 64% 5.8 4.6 Derek Anderson 51%
2011 ARI 389 550 41% 4.2 59% 7.2 5.2 John Skelton/Kevin Kolb 56%
2012 ARI 352 608 37% 3.4 63% 5.6 4.1 John Skelton/Kevin Kolb 55%

My first reaction when putting this table together was, WOW! Look at the difference between the first and last year in Pittsburgh, and the incredible drop off after Kurt Warner left Arizona.

Mike McCoy

Year Team Run Pass Run % YP Run Pass % YP Pass AYPP QB Comp %
2009 DEN 440 558 44% 4.2 56% 6.9 5.3 Kyle Orton 61%
2010 DEN 398 580 41% 3.9 59% 7.4 5.5 Kyle Orton 58%
2011 DEN 546 429 56% 4.8 44% 6.3 5 Tim Tebow 51%
2012 DEN 481 588 45% 3.8 55% 7.9 5.8 Peyton Manning 68%

Lots going on here too. So much change in offense from 2010-2012. This only affirms what we have heard about McCoy and how he is great at modifying an offense to suit his personnel.

Mike McCoy + Ken Whisenhunt + Philip Rivers = ?

How can we make sense of this? I thought I would take Whisenhunt's last season with Roethlisberger and his 3 seasons with Warner, as well as McCoy's two seasons with Orton, and average all those out into a season. I think it's fair to say that Rivers is not as good as Kurt Warner, but better than Big Ben was in 2006 (his first year when they really weren't leaning on the running game) and better than journeyman Kyle Orton, so this should be a fairly conservative projection.

Year Team Run Pass Run % YP Run Pass % YP Pass AYPP QB Comp %
2013 SD 402 579 41% 3.9 59% 7.3 5.5 Philip Rivers 62%

I hesitate to include Peyton Manning's season in this projection because...well...it's hard to know if that offense was mostly Manning or how much of an influence McCoy had on it. But just for fun, I'll run another projection to include McCoy's 2012 season in the projection. Here it is:

Year Team Run Pass Run % YP Run Pass % YP Pass AYPP QB Comp %
2013 SD 414 580 42% 3.9 58% 7.4 5.6 Philip Rivers 63%

That seems to be a pretty fair projection to me for this offense. So how does that project into individual season numbers for Rivers in a McCoy/Whisenhunt Offense?

QB Comp Att Yards Comp % TD INT Sacks Rating
Philip Rivers 333 522 3911 64% 26 14 29 90.8

Now there are going to be A LOT of factors at work here that were not factored into these projections, namely the skill around each of the players and far too many others to account for (or even name). However, some of the posts on here the last couple days got me thinking about what to expect and I decided to take a look for myself. Personally, I will expect a bit under the projection for Rivers, just because it is his first season under the new offense and there have been quite a few personnel changes around him. For comparison purposes, here are Rivers' career averages in those categories as a starter:

Comp Att Yards Comp % TD INT Sacks Rating
322 505 3963 64% 27 13 31 94.8

Looks to me like Philip Rivers is set up to have an "average" season. That's how I'm managing my expectations, what do you think?

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