Let's talk about Philip Rivers and predictions

Tullio M. Puglia

An explanation, and maybe an apology, about recent predictions and analysis regarding Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers.

Let's talk.

I know you're unhappy with me. You're unhappy with the predictions I've made, the fact that they've changed so dramatically, and the things I've said about Philip Rivers. I get that. I'd probably be mad too. Allow me to try to explain.

I was worried. When I get worried, I vent about it in the form of posts on this site. I was worried about Rivers adapting to the system, I was worried about how bad the team could be, and I was worried because of the lack of depth. Preseason usually starts with me being worried and ends with me being excited and optimistic. This year was no different.

So, what changed? Well, the San Diego Chargers preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals. Suddenly, I saw "the plan" and the vision of Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt. They were going to do the things that Norv Turner always neglected to do: tap into Rivers' intelligence and give him a strong running game. Suddenly, it all made sense.

Can Rivers take his time to adapt to the system? Can he get the ball our a little bit quicker each week and survive this season? Yes, but only if the running game is good (and it looks good). Also, allowing him to run the no-huddle and call the plays that he wants to call is big. It gives him confidence he didn't have before, and it allows him to take what the defense is giving him.

That's what it really comes down to. I forgot just how good Rivers was at taking what the defense gives him. He was one of the best to ever do it. When I saw that no-huddle that was being run against the Cardinals, and the way it was being run, it call came back to me. Limit the amount of throws per game and take pressure of Philip. Let him use his brain to read the defense and adapt his offense. Use the offense to keep the defense fresh. These concepts were lost in years past, hidden behind Norv's desire for big plays, but they seem to be back.

When you look at it on paper, this year's Chargers look like a bad team. They went 7-9 against an easy schedule in 2012, and lost HALF of their starters from last year to this year. Against a tough schedule, they should win 4 games. That's where I was mentally and what I thought just a few weeks ago. It took McCoy giving us a peek into his plans, showing us Rivers playing the position more like Peyton Manning, to change my mind. However, that peek changed my whole world.

I now think the 2013 Chargers are better than last year's Chargers (although they could finish with the same record because the schedule is much more difficult). I think this year's Philip Rivers will do much better than he did last season because he is being allowed to used his brain. I think they could finish with 4 wins if they have bad luck with injuries (Dwight Freeney!) and 10 wins if they have good luck with injures (Freeney and Melvin Ingram!).

I'm sorry if you're offended that my stance on the team changed in the last month. I honestly didn't expect to see the things that I saw against the Cardinals. Consider me a believer of Mike McCoy, Ken Whisenhunt and....yes, Philip Rivers.

Oh, and sorry about predicting the Chargers to finish with a worse record than the Raiders. That isn't happening. I don't know what I was thinking.

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