Huge year ahead for Philip Rivers

San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Kevin Acee raised some eyebrows when he said Wednesday on the NFL Network that he believes "2013 is the final audition of Philip Rivers."

One basis for Acee’s thoughts is the new regime’s reluctance to restructure Rivers’ contract even though it would help give the team some salary-cap room now. The team hasn’t done much in free agency even though there are big needs.

lastnameRiversI think Acee is right. But I also don’t think it is alarming, unusual or unfair.

It’s the way it goes in the NFL. There is new leadership in San Diego, and that leadership is not emotionally attached to anyone. Decisions will be made purely for football reasons. If Rivers, who is coming off two subpar seasons, is terrible this season, the Chargers will move away.

With that said, I would be surprised if Rivers is not in San Diego in 2014. I fully believe new general manager Tom Telesco and new coach Mike McCoy want to make it work with Rivers. But they have to see him play well.

Both men have said the presence of Rivers made the San Diego job appealing. Telesco thinks McCoy can fix Rivers, and so does McCoy. Rivers is enthusiastic and will respond well to coaching.

What would most help Rivers is an improved offensive line and more weapons to play with. The Chargers are working on it, but there are no guarantees they will have a solid offense this year. But if Rivers makes strides, the team will be happy with him.

In short, San Diego's new regime knows its best chance to win quickly is with Rivers. But if he shows that is not possible, he will not last long there. That is a result no one in San Diego wants.