SAN DIEGO -- Add another piece of evidence that San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is back playing at an elite level. A year after finishing off the list at No. 121, Rivers debuts on #NFLRank -- ESPN’s ranking of the top 100 players on offense and defense in the NFL -- at No. 30.
Rivers’ ascension to No. 30 is no surprise after how well he played last season, leading the league in completion percentage (69.5 percent) and finishing fourth in the NFL in passing touchdowns (32) and passer rating (105.5).
But the real question for Rivers is can he keep it going?
The answer to that is yes, for a couple reasons.
No. 1 is continuity. Even though former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt took his considerable talents to Nashville as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans, his replacement, Frank Reich, doesn’t plan to make major tweaks to San Diego’s offense.
Reich served as San Diego’s quarterbacks coach last season, has a good relationship with Rivers and will be given even more control as the new offensive coordinator. Rivers will have more ability to run no-huddle and call plays at the line of scrimmage.
“He has complete mastery of this offense,” Reich said about Rivers. “He’s the proverbial coach on the field.”
The Chargers also have continuity in terms of personnel, with most of the offense returning from last season.
And Rivers has playmakers. He will continue to lean on the short passing game, feeding big targets such as Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green -- which means his completion percentage should remain high and his interceptions should stay low.
Finally, the Chargers are a team that will run the football, taking the pressure off of Rivers to carry the offense. While running back Ryan Mathews likely will not carry it 285 times again this season, he still will be the main running back in San Diego’s offense, with Donald Brown and Danny Woodhead serving in complementary roles.
And with the ability to consistently run the football, opposing defenses have to play Rivers honest.
“My thing is to keep fine tuning the details -- all of the little things,” Rivers said. “Every little thing matters, and it’s not relaxing on anything. I think our whole offense and our whole team has that mindset.”