The San Diego Chargers' veteran quarterback had a simply fantastic game on Sunday. He threw for three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He did so while missing the entire left side of his offensive line including his center. It's usually not a good thing when your quarterback's blind side is being protected entirely by guys that barely made the 53-man roster (and in one case, a guy that originally did not make it).
Rivers didn't seem to mind, though. The League's second-most accurate passer was actually even more effective while being pressured. That effectiveness was even more impressive when you realize he was down to just Keenan Allen and Dontrelle Inman at wide receiver by the end of the game. His long-time favorite wide receiver target Malcom Floyd left the game with a concussion. His new favorite toy Stevie Johnson left with a hamstring injury. And, of course, his Hall of Fame tight end was still suspended.
All of this may have been against the Cleveland Browns, who are terrible, but they're still an NFL team and Rivers was playing without an NFL-caliber supporting cast when he shredded them this past weekend.
During the game, I remarked that Philip Rivers was surrounded by incompetence. Moments later, Danny Woodhead reminded us that this wasn't completely true.
Correction: Incompetence and Danny Woodhead.— Bolts From The Blue (@BFTB_Chargers) October 4, 2015
The short-but-not-small running back made his presence felt again and again against the Browns. Both running and receiving, Woodhead appeared to be the best non-Philip-Rivers player on the field. He had eight carries for 54 yards and caught four balls for 84 yards. That included a game-breaking 61-yard catch and run that I had to rewind and watch over and over again.
More than a few people made the assertion this past offseason that the biggest offseason "acquisition" the Chargers would make in 2015 was Danny Woodhead returning from injury. That certainly looked to be the case on Sunday. The Chargers burned multiple picks to trade up and draft another running back in the first round, but when the offense absolutely has to make a play on third down, in the red zone, or during a two-minute drill Woodhead is still getting the call because he's the most reliable and arguably the most dangerous weapon the Chargers have on offense. The faith they place in Woodhead continued to pay off on Sunday and will likely do so for the foreseeable future.
Steve Williams and Patrick Robinson
Okay, so maybe not in that order, but the Chargers backup cornerbacks have been getting an absolute ton of work thanks to the poor health of projected starters Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers. Usually when that happens to backups they get exposed and exposed badly. That hasn't happened to Williams and Robinson.
Only 5 CBs have a lower QB rating when targeted than Steve Williams this year. 1 of them is Pat Robinson. Crazy— KP (@The_KP_Show) October 7, 2015
That's one of those statistics where you first assume you read it wrong. A lot of us suggested that the Chargers could end up having the best cornerback duo in the NFL this season if things broke right for them. I'm pretty sure none of us meant Williams or Robinson when we said that. I know I didn't. And yet through the first quarter of the season, the Chargers' most "dominant" cornerbacks are guys that I think we all hoped wouldn't get too much playing time.
Both cornerbacks were guys that when they were first acquired optimists said they might end up being solid-to-good nickel cornerbacks. As of this moment, those predictions feel more pessimistic than optimistic. Both players look like very capable outside corners. Now, that may very well (read: probably won't) not last, but for right now they are playing incredibly and should be celebrated thusly.