The Los Angeles Chargers meet the New York Giants tomorrow, in a battle of 0-4 teams that absolutely no neutral is excited about. Chargers fans are probably caring a lot less than they did at the start of the season, but this Giants game very well could determine the future of the Chargers franchise.
The Giants are a bad, bad football team. They’re an 0-4 team who deserve to be 0-4. As bad as the Chargers running game has been so far, the Giants have been worse, with Eli Manning having their only rushing TD of the entire season. That partly comes down to the fact that Paul Perkins just isn’t very good (unfortunately he’s out Sunday, and Wayne Gallman - who’s a lot more talented - will get the start), but is also due to the Giants having an absolute shambles that they call an Offensive Line.
Weston Richburg is a really good Center, but he’s injured and won’t suit up against the Chargers. According to their depth chart, something called a Brett Jones will take his place on Sunday. He’ll be their second best lineman, just on account of not being Erick Flowers, Bobby Hart or John Jerry.
Here’s a fun fact for you: Bobby Hart called himself ‘the best RT in the league.’
"I'm the best RT in the NFL." - Bobby Hart— SaquonSZN Ethan (@EthanGSN) September 19, 2017
Also Bobby Hart: pic.twitter.com/17XHPNz2WU
Eli Manning has been getting the ball out quickly lately, not because he wants to but because if he doesn’t, he’s going to get murdered. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will be working against the worst pair of tackles in the league - Erick Flowers is without a doubt the worst OL in the entire league right now - and they’re going to make Eli Manning’s day hell.
If they do that, they’ll force Eli to make lots of mistakes, because that’s just who he is as a QB. Casey Hayward, Trevor Williams (who has been superb in place of Jason Verrett this year) and Desmond King will be able to pounce on errant throws, and the Chargers will win their first game of the season.
But... what happens if they do win?
Well, the Chargers will go to 1-4, finally getting a win and some confidence, before going to take on the Oakland Raiders with it looking likely for E.J. Manuel to be starting that game. As bad as the Chargers can be, I find it hard to believe that they’d drop that one, and suddenly they’re staring at a 2 game winning streak. High on confidence from two wins in a row and with the team finally starting to click, they go on to beat one of Denver or New England (this Patriots team are not the usual Patriots and I don’t see them getting it resolved this quickly) and head into the bye at 3-5. Denzel Perryman comes back, the run defense shores up and the Chargers have enough easy games in the backend of the schedule (Jets and Browns as a start) to finish the season around .500.
If they have an 8-8 season, it’s fair to assume that they’ll be picking in the middle of the NFL Draft. Only thing is, Philip Rivers, getting the team to 8-8 would mean that not only has he played adequately, but the team would say that there’s still time to have Rivers make a run at the postseason. They don’t use a high pick on a QB in this theoretical situation, and instead, try to give Philip Rivers one more chance to take this team to the promised land (presumably by either shoring up the defense or RT).
Alternatively, the Chargers lose this game to the Giants and go 0-5. That gives one of their biggest rivals for the top pick in the draft a win, as well as the tiebreaker over them. The Chargers then may or may not beat the E.J. Manuel led Raiders, but there’s not a big difference between 0-6 and 1-5. Low on confidence, and with the media and fans turning on them, they drop both the Denver and New England games to slump to an embarrassing 1-7 record at the bye. (I can even call them embarrassment’s in hypothetical situations!)
They might make a slight recovery after the bye, but they’d still be finishing with a Top 10, maybe Top 5 pick. And if you go 1-7 at any point, it’s time for a change at QB - or at least it’s time to start thinking about the future. The Chargers use that high draft pick to select one of the top QBs in the draft, and the Philip Rivers era comes to a sad, sad end.
I’m not saying that either scenario is guaranteed to happen, or that one is better than the other, but the general point stands. This game against the Giants will be huge in determining how the rest of the Chargers season plays out. Philip Rivers has been playing below average football so far this season, but he hasn’t been a complete dumpster fire outside of the Chiefs game. If he can’t lead the Chargers to a win over the 0-4 New York Giants - a game in which he won’t have to be perfect to get the victory - then it’s time to say goodbye to Philip Rivers as the starting QB of the Chargers.