Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers have a turnover problem. More specifically, Rivers has a giveaway problem. A couple of weeks ago, the Chargers got rid of offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt to fix their offensive woes.
At that time, it was tough for Chargers head coach Anthoiny Lynn to relieve Whisenhunt of his duties. However, the Chargers offense was in a funk and needed to get a reboot. Whisenhunt was the fall guy.
“This is not an easy decision and definitely not one that I take lightly,” Lynn said. “You win as a team, and you lose as a team. It’s never about just one person. At the end of the day, however, I simply felt a change was needed at this time. I want to thank Ken for his years of service to the Chargers organization and wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”
A few weeks after removing Whisenhunt, the Chargers are still in need of something to boost their offensive production. Rivers throwing interceptions all over the field against AFC West opponents-the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs-is not helping anything.
In fact, the seven interceptions Rivers has tossed to the opposition the last two weeks have been game-changing denials for the Chargers in their efforts to reach the playoffs. Those wishes are probably in the Milky Way now. And Whisenhunt is nowhere around to blamed for what has transpired as the Chargers go into their bye week.
As great as he has been throughout his illustrious career, and still playing at an elite level, Rivers has played just the opposite against the Raiders and Chiefs. The Chargers’ aspirations to play in the postseason were already hanging by a toenail before their 24-17 defeat to the Chiefs in Mexico City on Monday night.
Thanks to four interceptions thrown by Rivers, including a pick in the endzone at the near conclusion of the game as the Chargers were driving to tie the game, those playoff thoughts are now a hiccup towards elimination.
“I thought offensively, we got to get the ball into the endzone,” Lynn said after the game. “We kicked too many field goals in the first half. Against a team like Kansas City, you can’t kick field goal; you’ve got to score. I thought we let them hang around by kicking field goals. Defense, I thought, pretty much played well the whole game, except for the third quarter; two drives in the third quarter. I loved the way they fought at the end and kept giving us chances.”
“We got the ball back several times, and offensively, we weren’t able to get the ball down the field until that last drive,” Lynn continued. “Philip made some great throws to get us into that situation. Mike Williams made a great catch, but we did not finish the game. He kind of under threw that last one, and that’s just kind of been the way our season has gone so far.”
In their game prior to facing off against the Chargers, the Chargers saw Rivers cough up three interceptions to the Raiders.
That’s seven picks in the last two games.
“Not scoring in the red zone and turning it over that gets you beat,” Rivers said. “That’s what’s got us beat all year.”
Even though he is the No. 3 passer in the NFL and has gone over the 3,000-yard marker already (3,169 yards), Rivers has thrown 14 interceptions on the season. That last number is really not that bad, but the timing of those turnovers have been at key moments.
Against the Raiders, as the Chargers were driving for a potential game-winning field goal, RIvers found himself picked off by Oakland’s defensive secondary. Once again, Rivers and the Chargers self-destructed at the worst possible time. This time, the Chiefs became the beneficiaries of Rivers’ benevolence and gift-showing kindness of the Chargers.
On the Chargers’ last two possessions, Rivers flailed passes that had little to no chance of being grabbed by his wide receivers. On his final pass of the night, Rivers, who completed 53 percent of his passes (28 of 52 for 353 yards, TD) against the Chiefs, thought he had running back Austin Ekeler roaming free down the sidelines on a wheel route.
Rivers and the Chargers guessed wrong.This time the big guy (Chiefs safety Daniel Soerenson) outmaneuvered and out jumped the little guy (Ekeler) for the ball. And that was your ballgame. For the Chargers, that pretty well could have been their season.
“I have to watch the tape to see how Philip played,” Lynn said. “He did some good things. Now you can look at the two interceptions and say he played bad, but I thought he did some good things as well.”
There may be a faint pulse somewhere that would allow the Chargers to back into the postseason, but that is a real high improbability.
In other words, at 4-7, things are pretty much a wrap for the Chargers. After taking their bye week to recoup, the Chargers could very well run the table in their last five games of the season. But with road games against the Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars and a season-finale against the Chiefs in loud and rocking Arrowhead Stadium, that’s a real small chance that will happen.
But it’s a chance. Right now, the Chargers are lucky they even have that. For Rivers, the only thing he and his teammates can do at this point is to play hard all the way through the end of the season.
“It’s the only way I know and that’s to fight,” Rivers said. “You just keep fighting. You signed up for them all, regardless of what your record is. We’ve been in this spot before; you just keep playing. You neve know what’s going to happen, but whether that happens or not, you just keep fighting.”
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. A news and sports reporter, Dennis has written about social justice, civil rights, education, politics, and crime. He also covers the NFL, NBA, MLB as well as other sports. Based in Southern California, Dennis earned a journalism degree with a minor in criminal justice from Howard University. The real HU!!