It is safe to say that most of you have read Kevin Acee’s article about why trading quarterback Philip Rivers is the right thing to do. I must admit, I was hoping that the post would say more about why he believes that the trading of Rivers would make sense. Quite honestly, he doesn’t say much to support the idea.
I should have started this by stating how much I respect Acee. I have interviewed Kevin on multiple occasions, and I wouldn’t be out of line saying that he might be the coolest guy I have interviewed. Despite his large number of “haters,” I can assure you he has a good sense of humor and he really does know football.
Now that we have that out-of-the-way, are you kidding me? Trade Rivers? Trade away arguably the best quarterback in the history of the Chargers’ franchise? Child, please.
I am just going to throw out a few names here to remind the fans what the Chargers’ quarterback situation has looked like in the past, prior to Rivers taking the helm:
- Mark Herrmann
- Babe Laufenberg
- Billy Joe Tolliver
- Mark Vlasic
- John Friesz
- Mark Malone
- Gale Gilbert
- Craig Whelihan
- Moses Moreno
……… Ryan Leaf
It goes without saying that franchise quarterbacks do not come around all that often. Let us not ignore the misery of watching a team without a quality starter at the position.
Acee’s article, along with other speculation around the NFL, suggests that if the Chargers think Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is the signal caller of the future for the team, Tom Telesco should pull the trigger on trading Rivers in an effort to draft Mariota.
Let me get this straight. Trade a proven commodity in Rivers for the opportunity to draft a rookie that has yet to play a down of NFL football? Sure, it is probably time to begin looking toward the future at the quarterback position in San Diego. But with Rivers under contract through the 2015 season, wouldn’t it be prudent to focus on doing all things possible to extend his contract and lock him up for the next three or four years?
Yes, Rivers has gone on record saying that he will play out his contract and see where it goes from there. But shouldn’t the Chargers go above and beyond to prove to Philip that they want no one else as their quarterback? That has not been the case, as the Chargers are working out Mariota, and they have worked out other possible incoming rookie options at quarterback this offseason. The visits have extended as far as Uncle Rico, per sources… In other words, the team is doing their due diligence when it comes to working on the next option at quarterback should the team move on from Rivers.
Let’s talk about Mariota. Then we’ll delve into the obvious reasons why the Chargers would be fools to not retain the services of Rivers.
Coming from a spread offense at Oregon, you won’t find many plays in which Mariota took snaps from under center. His collegiate numbers, especially last year, showed that he excelled in Oregon’s offense, throwing 42 touchdowns against only four interceptions. He also rushed for 770 yards and 15 touchdowns. We are not talking about Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning or John Elway; quarterbacks that were, indeed, a sure thing when it comes to their collegiate efforts translating to success in the NFL. Although he is very athletic, what can he do in an NFL offense? It is difficult to say whether or not he would be comfortable being a drop-back, pocket passer.
When watching tape on Mariota, his collegiate numbers aren’t exactly the best representation of how he’ll perform in the NFL. He keeps his eyes locked onto his primary read, neglecting to go through his progressions and find other options. Even if quarterback guru Mike McCoy were to work with him in helping to adapt his game, Mariota would most likely resort to locking onto his first read when under duress. I don’t see him as being able to function properly in the pocket of an NFL offense. Although he is capable of making plays with his feet, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll be able to move around in the pocket and deliver the ball accurately. Mariota may very well turn out to be a solid NFL starter, but I don’t see him becoming the caliber of player that Rivers is.
Speaking of quarterbacks who can work in the pocket, let’s talk about Philip Rivers. Despite his lack of mobility, he is incredibly crafty in the pocket. We all may like to poke fun at the way he runs when he scrambles, but he handles the pocket as well as any other passer in the league.
Rivers has one of the most awkward deliveries of any quarterback that I have ever watched throw a football. That being said, he is as accurate as they come. Fans outside of San Diego, and some that cheer on the Chargers, like to complain about the way that Rivers reacts when things don’t go his way. Quite frankly, I love it. His fire and passion can be misconstrued as being whiny. Each and every play means the world to him. He holds every player accountable down to the most intricate of details. To put it quite simply, he makes everyone on the team better due to the way he carries himself. He was born a leader and that is not denied by those in the know.
Trading Philip Rivers for the chance of drafting Marcus Mariota sets this franchise back a few years, at a minimum. The team already knows what they have in Rivers. The same can’t be said about Mariota. There is nothing but guesswork involved when it comes to prognosticating whether or not Mariota can fit into an NFL offense. McCoy has made some pretty poor quarterbacks look serviceable; Jake Delhomme and Tim Tebow immediately come to mind. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Rivers is the heart and soul of the Chargers.
Going into this offseason, the Chargers knew that they needed to surround Rivers with a better offensive line and more playmakers via free agency and the draft. The first portion of the process, free agency, saw the team do just that, and the draft tomorrow can help finalize what should be an improved offense.
The Bolts upgraded their offensive line with the addition of Orlando Franklin. It looks as though the team is happy with second-year player Chris Watt manning the center position for the forseeable future. If the team were to draft an offensive lineman in the early rounds of the upcoming draft, the big boys upfront would possibly form the best line the Chargers have had in quite some time. It goes without saying that Johnnie Troutman is not the answer at right guard, so expect the team to draft a starter at the position in round one or round two. A line featuring King Dunlap, Franklin, Watt, DJ Fluker and a highly selected rookie should certainly provide Rivers with confidence in the fact that the front office worked to improve the hogs up front.
When looking at the receiving corps, the additions of Stevie Johnson and Jacoby Jones give Rivers two more weapons at his disposal. Keenan Allen will be entering his third season in the league, and hopefully some pressure will be taken off him. Although Malcom Floyd is entering the latter stages of his career, he has a solid rapport with Rivers. He is still considered a deep threat after averaging a team-high 16.5 yards per reception. It goes without saying that Antonio Gates had a fantastic year in 2014, leading the team with 12 touchdowns. Additionally, tight end Ladarius Green is primed to see more time on the field this upcoming season. The receiving corps is stocked and ready to roll. Rivers must be salivating while thinking of all of these receiving options.
After losing Ryan Mathews to the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency, the team is left with Danny Woodhead, Branden Oliver and Donald Brown at the running back position. Although Telesco has said that he is happy with the ball carriers on the roster, do not be surprised if the team adds a back in Thursday’s draft. The return of Woodhead will be huge for the Bolts. He provides so much versatility to the offense. As an undrafted free agent rookie out of Buffalo, Oliver was a pleasant surprise, making the 53-man roster. He may not fit the bill as a bell-cow back, but he does give the team a solid option at running back. Though Brown was a disappointment in his first year with the Chargers, the team seems to believe that he can get the job done. He may not ever live up to the contract that he signed during the free agency period prior to the 2014 season, but he is capable as a third option. If a ball carrier is drafted, Brown may be on his way out of San Diego.
Even if the Chargers aren’t willing to say it right now, they have the opportunity to keep Philip in 2016 via the franchise tag. Of course, he could refuse to agree to that option and sit out the season or retire. But wouldn’t it behoove him to remain with the team if there is an option to collect a top-dollar quarterback contract? I believe it would. I guess it would boil down to whether or not he believes in what Telesco and McCoy are building with the Chargers. It says a lot that he has said that he won’t sign a long-term deal at this point, opting to play out this year and see where things go from there.
Getting rid of Rivers would be a huge mistake. The team hasn’t had a franchise signal caller since the days of Dan Fouts. Although I was a bit young to truly appreciate the ability of Fouts during his playing days, an argument could easily be made that Rivers is the greatest quarterback in Charger history. If one was to look at the numbers, and take into account the weapons provided to each quarterback, it is fair to say that Rivers has passed up Fouts.
For all of you Oregon fans that would love to see Mariota in lightning bolts, I implore you to recall the fact that Rivers has played the part of Superman, overcoming numerous injuries to ensure that he would never miss a game since being given the role of starting quarterback in San Diego. He is an upstanding member of the community, involved in many charities that benefit America’s finest city. The focus should remain that, in my humble opinion, he gives the team the best chance to win for the next few seasons. Should the team ignore the obvious and take a chance on replacing Rivers with Mariota? Again, child, please.
Thanks a lot for reading.