COSTA MESA, Calif. – While the season didn’t start off how he wanted, through eight games Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is doing a better job of taking care of the football.
Rivers finished with a league and career-high 20 interceptions last season. But halfway through this year Rivers has just six interceptions, including a meaningless one against the New England Patriots last week on the final play of the game.
One of first-year coach Anthony Lynn’s points of emphasis in taking over the Chargers was taking care of the football. For Rivers, that has meant taking less risk in pushing the ball down the field, getting to his checkdowns or throwing the ball away.
Rivers had four interceptions and a fumble in the first four games of the season, and the Chargers went 0-4. However, in the last four games, Rivers had just two interceptions and the Chargers went 3-1.
Rivers is on course to finish with 12 interceptions on the year, which would be his lowest season total since 2013, the last time the Chargers made the playoffs.
As a team, the Chargers have a plus-1 turnover differential, No. 15 in the NFL.
“Philip is, to me, the ultimate team player,” Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said. “He wants to do it the way the coach wants it done, whoever the coach is. In this case with Coach Lynn and what his philosophy is, he wants to do it the way that Coach Lynn wants it done to give us success, and he's working hard at that.
“It's not always the case with some veteran quarterbacks in this league, but I think it speaks a lot about Philip's character, and certainly his leadership.”
Lynn said he’s about taking advantage of matchups on offense in order to create big plays. And of the things the Chargers could look to do more effectively in the second half of the season is look for opportunity to threaten the defense down the field.
So perhaps Lynn is willing to loosen the reins a little on his conservative philosophy on offense in order to create some more scoring chances.
The Chargers have just 21 passing plays of 20 or more yards, No. 21 in the NFL.
“I believe we need to get the ball into the hands of our playmakers and look into different ways to do that -- getting the right personnel groups on the field to score points,” Lynn said. “And maybe it’s taking more opportunities down the field off of run action. We’re looking at all of that right now.”