“He’s a great talent. He’s a son of a coach. He has all the intangibles. The work ethic, the personal drive, the commitment to be great. He’s got one of the quickest releases that you’ll ever see. He’s as tough as they get. He has all the talent to make all the throws. He’s the terminator. He won’t go away. He just will not quit,” Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said two days before he faced off against Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 5.
The Chargers walked out of that game by a 26-10 margin, one of their victories during their current four-game win streak.
With the Bolts breathing down the Chiefs’ neck for the division title, it all starts with Rivers, the unsung hero at quarterback.
It’s a tough race as the three players ahead of him are having astronomical seasons. But Rivers is keeping up stride for stride while setting all sorts of personal bests despite turning 37 years old in December.
Rivers has the second-best completion percentage of his career (69.1), good for seventh in the league. His 17 touchdown passes rank third in the NFL while his touchdown percentage of 7.7 percent is above his career high from 2008.
Not to mention Rivers has just three interceptions on the year, on pace for the lowest of his career. This all sums up to the second highest passer rating in the league (117.8) trailing only Brees.
The major disadvantage Rivers faces is the lack of pomp and circumstance his squad sees. Rivers is posting comparable numbers with the MVP leaders with Anthony Lynn as a head coach. Lynn is no slouch, but he’s not the offensive-minded quarterback guru that is Andy Reid or Sean Payton, the former being the runaway favorite for Coach of the Year.
In fact, Rivers has accumulated a whopping total of four MVP votes over the course of his 15-year career. That puts him in the same category as other vote-getters such as Chad Pennington (4), Kordell Stewart (4) and Carson Palmer (3).
Partially to blame for the lack of MVP love was playing with one of the greatest running backs in the last twenty years, LaDainian Tomlinson. The Hall of Famer tallied 44 of the 50 votes in 2006 en route to the prestigious award.
Rivers has also dealt with being overshadowed in the era of the quarterback. Since his debut in 2004, Peyton Manning received 204 votes with Tom Brady trailing closely behind him with 162. Aaron Rodgers has been on the ballot three times for a grand total of 81 votes while Cam Newton and Matt Ryan each have solo wins scored them 48 and 25 respectively.
AFC quarterbacks have logged 378 MVP votes during Rivers’ career, making the competition excrusciatingly difficult. Not that 2018 is any easier in terms of quarterback competition, but this could be the year he finally gets his due. His first All-Pro season and quite possibly his first MVP is in his crosshairs if he maintains his torrid run.
The Los Angeles Chargers are on bye this week before they take on the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9.