OK, so I’m just going to let it be known that I am a HUGE San Diego Chargers fan, but not a biased or an unreasonable fan though. That being said Phillip Rivers is the most underrated quarterback in the NFL and it isn’t even close.
Rivers was drafted in 2004 by the NY Giants with the 4th pick overall but was eventually traded to the Chargers for Eli Manning in one of the more famous draft day trades. Big Ben Roethlisberger was drafted by the Steelers at number 11. These three QBs have combined for 4 super bowl rings. Manning with 2, Ben with 2, Rivers with a big fat DONUT. The sports world we live in values the rings more than anything. But all smart fans know that rings don’t make the better player because if that’s the case Trent Dilfer is better than Dan Marino. Let’s compare the numbers of players often claimed better than Phillip Rivers (excluding Brees, Rodgers, Brady, Manning).
Phillip Rivers versus Tony Romo.
Games played – Rivers 160, Romo 155.
Career Completion % – Rivers 64.8%, Romo 65.3%
Seasons with 4000+ yards – Rivers 7, Romo 4
Seasons with 30+ TDs – Both with 4
Career INTs – Rivers 135, Romo 117
Yards per game – Rivers 252.7, Romo 220.3
Rivers is also way more durable than the often injured Romo
Phillip Rivers versus Eli Manning
Games played – Rivers 160, Manning 185
Career Completion % – Rivers 64.8%, Manning 59.3%
Seasons with 4000+ yards – Rivers 7, Manning 5
Seasons with 30+ TDs – Rivers 4, Manning 3
Career INTs – Rivers 135, Manning 199
Yards per game – Rivers 252.7, Manning 238.9
Manning has had 2 great playoff runs and Rivers hasn’t. Manning however has had the luxury of having the best pass rush in the league (2007) and the 3rd best pass rush in the league (2011) both years he has been to and won the SB.
Phillip Rivers versus Ben Roethlisberger
Games Played – Rivers 160, Roethlisberger 171
Career Completion % – Rivers 64.8%, Roethlisberger 64.1
Seasons with 4000+ yards – Rivers 4, Roethlisberger 4
Seasons with 30+ TDs – Rivers 4, Roethlisberger 2
Career INTs – Rivers 135, Roethlisberger 147
Yards per game – Rivers 252.7, Roethlisberger 251.4
Playoff success goes a long way in determining a QBs legacy. Rivers has been about average in the playoffs at best with a 4-5 record and 11 touchdowns to 9 interceptions.
In his first playoff appearance Rivers and the Chargers had to take on the New England Patriots. Rivers and Brady both played quite bad. Rivers went 14-32 with 230 yards, no touchdowns and 1 interception. Brady went 27-51 with 280 yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. On the last drive of the game Rivers went 3-5 (2 incomplete passes were spikes) for 39 yards. Nate Kaeding then misses a 54 yard game tying field goal.
Rivers and company faced the Tennessee Titans in the wild card round. Pretty boring game, low scoring as the Chargers won 17-6 with Rivers going 19-30 for 292 yards with both 1 touchdown and 1 interception. In the divisional round San Diego faced Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Rivers was a machine in that game before getting injured in the 4th quarter. He was 14-19 for 264 yards along with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. San Diego would go on to win that game 28-24. In the conference championship game they would face the New England Patriots. Another game where neither Brady nor Rivers played exceptionally well. Rivers threw 2 interceptions and didn’t throw a single touchdown pass. Brady also only threw for 211 yards while completing 19-37 passes. Brady was 22-33 for 209 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions that game as the Patriots won 21-12.
Another meeting between Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning. Rivers didn’t play good but he didn’t play bad either. His numbers were 20-36 for 217 yards and one interception. Despite his underwhelming numbers he threw two very clutch passes for 11 yards a piece to Antonio Gates. That led to Nate Kaeding tying the game a forcing overtime. In OT Phillip went 2-4 for 21 yards (with help from Indy’s penalty issues). Darren Sproles won the game for San Diego with an elusive 22 yard touchdown run. They would go on to play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round. Rivers played great, throwing 21-35 for 308 yards, 1 interception, and 3 touchdowns. He severely outplayed Big Ben who threw for 181 yards and 1 touchdown but the Chargers defense made Willie Parker look like prime Barry Sanders. Parker ran for 146 yards as the Steelers won 35-24.
The Chargers had a great season going 13-3 and faced the NY Jets in the divisional round. Another game in which the San Diego defense made another running back look like prime Barry Sanders. Shonn Greene killed the SD defense running for 128 yards… Shonn Greene. Rivers played a good game going 27-40 for 298 yards 1 rushing touchdown, 1 passing touchdown but he did throw two interceptions. Nate Kaeding missed THREE field goals in that game… If you add those made field goals San Diego would have 23 points. The final score was NY 17 SD 14…
This was an unusual game to watch as a Chargers fan but Rivers didn’t have to chuck the ball 35 times! He was 12-16 for 128 yards and one touchdown. The Chargers running game and defense stepped up tremendously as San Diego won 27-10 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Next round they faced the Broncos with Peyton Manning at the helm. Once again, Rivers played well enough to win but the Chargers defense allowed Knowshon Moreno and Monte Ball to run for 134 yards on them. Phillip completed 18 out of 27 passes for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns.
If players like Romo, Manning or Roethlisberger are “elite”, Phillip is also elite. His numbers are just as good if not better than those QBs. Rivers will continue to be underrated by most fans until he wins a ring.