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Most Valuable San Diego Chargers: #1 Philip Rivers

Was there any doubt about who the most valuable San Diego Chargers player was going to be? It's the leader, the captain, and the best QB in team history: Philip Rivers.

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Once Charlie Whitehurst signed with the Tennessee Titans, you knew who #1 on this list was going to be...

For 95% of NFL teams, the most valuable player on the roster is the starting QB. Philip Rivers has started every game for the San Diego Chargers for the last eight seasons., and it's very likely continue that trend a few more years. However, he's not just #1 on this list because of the position he plays...

What He Brings

Since we're talking about his value to the 2014 San Diego Chargers, and we're focusing on what he brings to the team in the upcoming season, I would like to focus on his performance in 2013 and ignore whatever happened in 2011 and 2012.

Here's how Rivers ranked among the rest of the league last year:

  • 5th in completed passes
  • 5th in passing yards
  • 4th in passing TDs
  • 4th in QB Rating
  • 6th in passing yards per game
  • 4th in yards per pass attempt
  • 1st in completion percentage
  • 4th in game-winning drives (tied)
  • 1st in PFF's accuracy percentage

The numbers don't lie. Philip Rivers was one of the five best QBs in the league last year and it's not the first time he's been in that group. He can do it all, except maybe look graceful while running away from defensive linemen, and has been well-worth the first round pick that was used to select him in the 2004 NFL Draft.

Importance to the Chargers

My argument has always been that it doesn't really matter who the Chargers' backup QB is. There isn't a backup QB in the league that's half as good as Rivers, and this team relies so much on the QB position that it would almost be pointless to try and win games without him.

Nobody that is coming off the bench, not even Kellen Clemens or the dreamy Charlie Whitehurst, can mimic what a top-five QB can do in this offense. If they could, they would be starters themselves. If the goal of the team, with Rivers out, would be to get run-heavy and throw safe passes, then why does the team need to spend big money on a big name backup QB?

But I digress... Philip Rivers is the Chargers. The team lives and dies on his performance, the players look to him for guidance and leadership, and the fans look for him to be their heartbeat and personality.

I've always had a fascination with the phrase "A legend in his own time." There's something magical about someone that is so special that everyone actually realizes how special that person is in real time. At least in San Diego, Philip Rivers is that.

Unless something catastrophic happens, Rivers is going to retire having only played with the San Diego Chargers. He'll one day have his #17 retired, and our children will look up at it hanging and ask us what it was like to watch Rivers play. It would mean even more if we could say that the team won a Super Bowl with Rivers at the QB, but that is going to be mostly up to him.

I'll leave you with this fun stat: Philip Rivers has made the playoffs five times, and has won at least one game in the playoffs three of those times. Winning a playoff game 60% of the time he makes it to the playoffs puts Philip ahead of Peyton Manning (38%), Eli Manning (40%), Aaron Rodgers (40%), Matt Ryan (25%), and a bunch of other big-name QBs. It also puts him very near a couple of "playoff studs" in Ben Roethlisberger (66%) and former Chargers QB Drew Brees (66%).

Rivers is right there with other Super Bowl-winning QBs in terms of regular-season and postseason performance. All he needs is that one magical season where it all comes together at the right time and we'll be calling him the greatest Chargers player that ever lived.