I have to admit, I’ve been living in a fairytale world these past few football years.
I whole-heartedly believed that Philip Rivers would be the quarterback to bring a Super Bowl title to the Chargers franchise. I believed that he was infallible. I believed he was the Chargers Knight in Shining Armor.
Unfortunately, I have finally closed the book on any storybook ending.
And I feel sick to my stomach for doing it.
Before I go any further, I should preface this by saying I have and will continue to be one of the most optimistic writers here at Bolts From The Blue. Ask me if they will win this week, or any week and there’s a good chance that I’m gonna say yes. Ask me before the season and I will say, if healthy, the Chargers are going to contend for the Lombardi Trophy.
I say this every year.
I, like a lot of you, feel this way because of one player on the team: Philip Rivers. This hero of mine has instilled a sense of confidence in success like no other player.
He is the Franchise leader in Passing Yards, Touchdown Passes, and tied for Game Winning Drives. His gun-slinging style has captivated me and football fans throughout his 13 seasons as a pro. His PG-rated trash talk has earned him many-a-frenemies on opposing teams, and has kept his knight-in-shining armor image intact. He stays optimistic even while the castle is burning around him.
But all of the polish and accolades and awe-shucks attitude have blinded me to the fact that Philip Rivers is just not as good as he used to be.
He has become the best interception machine in the NFL, leading the league in 2 of the past 3 years and ]on track for a 3rd. At times he seems uncomfortable in a pocket that has been blocking their butts off. It’s like he thinks his eyes are deceiving him. His decision making leaves you scratching your head. He is throwing to covered receivers, and bypassing ]open ones. His arm strength may not be the same.
Looking back these past few years, I blamed injuries, I blamed Tom Telesco, and we all blamed Mike McCoy.
I never would have thought to blame Philip Rivers. But the one constant through these maddening years has been Rivers. He has been here through all those blown fourth quarter leads, ones in which he should have led the offense to put the game away. He’s slung interceptions at the wrong time. It's been one too-many daggumits in a season.
This downward spiral was on full display against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Rivers threw 3 interceptions in the first half and in the second half, was unable to lead the team to any points. The defense was spectacular. The Special Teams played a clean game. The running game was solid. The only measurable facet that failed was the Quarterback.
Which leads me to this statement, one that I never thought I would say: The Chargers need to move away from Philip Rivers after this year. They need a new leader at the helm. Rivers is in decline, and it pains me to see him fail so miserably.
In storybook land, the hero defeats the villain or he saves the princess and we assume that the world lives happily ever after. It's what they tell us at the end of the story.
What those stories don’t tell us is that the hero will eventually get old. And over time he will begin to lose his mastery of the sword, begin to second guess his decisions and ultimately leave his kingdom in uncertainty.
I will still root for Rivers to pull off some magic for this team this year. He will be remembered as my favorite quarterback. Chances are he will lead the Chargers to victory against some teams they have no business beating and lose to those they shouldn’t. But I have come to the realization that the end is nearer for him than I had hoped for. And that there will be no happy ending to this story.