Sometimes in life, you get overlooked. This is not necessarily because you are underperforming or not good enough. You can be great. Tremendous, actually. However, there is only so much spotlight to go around that you might not receive your fair share. Sometimes, that is just how it is.
If there were ever a more efficient way to describe the career of Philip Rivers, someone needs to come up and present it.
In a league where he has played during the primes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and Peyton Manning, the worst mistake Rivers has ever made was beginning his National Football League career at the wrong time.
Fourteen years after being drafted fourth overall by the New York Giants and then traded to San Diego Chargers because Eli Manning refused to play for that organization, Rivers deserves his shine now more than ever.
Rivers has quietly led the Los Angeles Chargers to a 5-2 record and yet once again has become overlooked due to playing in the same division as young phenomenon, Patrick Mahomes. The veteran has posted a 117.8 passer rating which is good for second among NFL quarterbacks only to Drew Brees. He ranks third in touchdown passes to Andrew Luck and Patrick Mahomes although both of them have thrown more interceptions. Rivers ranks eighth in total passing yards at 2,008.
Through seven weeks, the MVP race can be narrowed down to four main candidates; Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams, and the man himself, Philip Rivers.
So what puts Rivers ahead of the others?
Those other three stud quarterbacks are working with better offensive minds as coaches. Mahomes has Andy Reid and Brees has Sean Payton. Both coaches are known for being geniuses in drawing up schemes to rack up yards and put points on the board. We have seen them do it for years and both are revered as two of the best coaches of this generation. Jared Goff has Sean McVey who is widely known as a wizard with the playbook. He gets (and deserves) a lot of credit for bringing creative complexity and even some college-style schemes to the NFL that many other coaches are trying to replicate. Rivers has... Anthony Lynn. He has bounced around the league, mainly as a running backs coach, and has never been with a team for more than three full seasons. Coach Lynn is doing a good job. He has earned respect. He has the team together and they are a serious Super Bowl contender. Maybe down the line, he will prove himself to be much better than advertised. But imagine what type of Madden-like numbers Rivers could put up under a coach like Reid, Payton, or McVey?
There is also something to be admired about a mastered craft. His ability to surgically pick apart a defense from the pocket is an art. Nobody will ever mistake Rivers for being athletic or quick with his legs as he beats teams with his head and his precise throwing. The Chargers walk onto the field every Sunday knowing they likely have the smartest player on the field. He can read defenders as well as anybody and he can make every throw.
Rivers is a model of consistency. This is no breakout season or outlier performance. Rivers has been doing this for over a decade and has been criminally overshadowed by his peers. One could make the case he should already have an MVP award already, but that trophy case is empty. Once again, he is playing at an elite level and voters are going to have a tough time ignoring it like they always have. It is important to note that this same point can be made about Drew Brees, but there is something extra special about what Rivers is putting on display this season.
Captain Philip would probably be the first to say that he is not worried about an MVP award and that all he cares about is playing football in February. As he continues to spearhead this team into victories, and eventually the postseason, his case will only grow stronger.
When your quarterback is performing like Rivers, you will take the excessive trash talk. You will take the awaked-looking throwing motion. All that matters is that he is carrying the team and playing at a superstar-type level.
Rivers is doing both, impressively. But what else would you expect from the 2018 MVP?