Philip Rivers is 34 years old. He's no spring chicken. The fact that he just signed a contract extension that keeps him in a Chargers uniform for four seasons after this one raises the question: Is this the beginning of the end for Philip Rivers?
That's not to blame Rivers. Father Time is undefeated, and Mike McCoy isn't doing Rivers any favors. It's just a question to ask and to be explored.
This tremendous article (which is two years old) shows the age-performance curve of NFL QBs and concludes that a QB's peak is at 29 years old. From there it's a slow-ish drop off for three years and then a falling off the map around the age of 34. There's even a fancy graph:
This lovely article from Pro Football Reference says roughly the same thing, concluding that 32 years of age is when a QB starts to decline pretty dramatically and can be thrown into the category of "old".
Now, obviously, this is a hard thing to figure. The NFL has changed to protect QBs more, so NFL QBs are having longer, fuller careers. That makes some historical data harder to look at with any significance, and there are obviously some outliers (like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Brett Favre).
However, there is one stat I wanted to take a look at, when trying to figure how the Chargers intend to compete with one of the highest paid QBs in the league who can also be categorized as "old". If you're going to do that, you probably have to protect the old guy, right?
QB Hits By Year:
San Diego Chargers
2015 - 84 (6th most)
2014 - 75 (17th)
2013 - 60 (28th)
2012 - 70 (17th)
2011 - 57 (30th)
2010 - 72 (18th)
Well, obviously, the Chargers are not doing a good job of protecting their "old" QB this season. Let's compare him to some of the better known "old" QBs.
New England Patriots
2015 - 77 (9th)
2014 - 82 (16th)
2013 - 81 (17th)
2012 - 67 (21st)
2011 - 71 (21st)
2010 - 52 (28th)
Looks like the Patriots are about the same as the Chargers this year, with an even older QB. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out over the rest of the season/playoffs.
2014 - 42 (32nd)
2013 - 54 (31st)
2012 - 46 (32nd)
If you want to know how to get to, or near, the Super Bowl with a 39 year old QB with neck issues....there's your answer.
I left off 2015 because these numbers are given to the offensive lines instead of the QB himself, so it'd be impossible to split up hits against Manning and Osweiler this season. However, the fact that the team is 14th in hits given up instead of their usual 30+ is probably why Peyton Manning is no longer healthy enough to play professional football.
Make of these numbers whatever you want. I'm not sure if they mean anything at all. However, I do know that we can't rely on Philip Rivers to never break when he's getting hit more than most of the 20-something QBs in the league.
Now, to the actual matter at hand. What should the San Diego Chargers get Philip Rivers as a birthday gift today? Here are some of my ideas. Put your own in the comments section below.
- An offensive line
- Some healthy Wide Receivers
- A running game
- A new minivan
- A cryogenic chamber that can freeze him until the rest of the team has been built up enough to compete with a Top 10 QB
- A pair of gloves
- A tablet, to be used on the sidelines during NFL games
- A bolo tie