Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer 29d

How Chargers QB Philip Rivers can get his groove back

CARSON, Calif. -- Philip Rivers is a creature of habit.

Who can blame him? He had been with the same team, living in the same city for 13 years before the Los Angeles Chargers packed up and moved to Costa Mesa this year.

Now, Rivers is playing in a new stadium, in a new city and dealing with the pressures of trying to win over a new fan base in L.A. -- a city that so far has been indifferent to the Bolts' presence.

Sunday's performance against the Kansas City Chiefs didn't help win over any fans. In a game ready for the taking, the Chargers lacked killer instinct on offense, with Rivers throwing three interceptions.

"I really was just never in any kind of groove the whole day," Rivers said. "Shoot, anytime a quarterback plays that poorly, it's going to be tough to win, and that's really a shame because our defense was awesome."

Rivers might as well have been playing 7-on-7, the protection was so good, with two sacks coming late in the game when the Chiefs knew the Chargers were going to throw. Pressure was not an issue in Rivers' performance.

Running back Melvin Gordon's play was the only saving grace for the offense. He finished with 79 yards on 18 carries, with 78 of those coming in the first half before the Wisconsin product went out with a knee injury.

Gordon returned later in the second half but was ineffective, and the Chargers' running game suffered.

Rivers has been commuting back and forth from San Diego with backup quarterback Kellen Clemens.

He has a driver and a revamped SUV that allows him to prepare during the ride home to his wife and eight kids, so he doesn't miss any time with his preparation.

Gordon said that relocation isn't an excuse for the offense's ineffectiveness and the move doesn't have anything to do with how the offense is executing on the field.

"That has nothing to do with what we have going on out here," Gordon said. "I think our full focus is on the game. He [Rivers] just made a couple mistakes. It happens, and it is what it is. But he's the leader, so we rally behind him.

"He makes a mistake, and he gets over it. We get over it. We have to go out there as a team and try and make him play a winning game."

Gordon is right. Rivers' issues have more to do with getting into a rhythm on offense. We're talking about someone with a career 64.4 percent completion percentage that completed just 50 percent of his throws in a 24-10 loss against the Chiefs on Sunday.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Rivers was off-target on 11 throws, two of which were intercepted. The 11 off-target passes are tied for the most by a quarterback in a game this season, and Rivers' 27 percent off-target rate is his third-worst mark in the past five seasons.

In his first two games of the season, Rivers combined to throw just 10 off-target passes with no interceptions.

The remedy? The Chargers and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt have to get back to the quick, short passing game installed when he first joined the Chargers in 2013. That season, Rivers completed a career-high 69.5 percent of his passes on his way to a Pro Bowl season. That was also the last time the Chargers made the playoffs.

"It's too early to overact," Rivers said. "Shoot, last week it wasn't about four balls that hit the ground besides throwaways. This week, I didn't have a completion until halfway through the first quarter, except to the other team.

"I had more completions to the other team than I had to our team. I was just bad. There was just really nothing. I think you hope you avoid days like this all year long, but if you have them, shoot, learn from them and go -- and not overreact."

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