Now, Osweiler will get a chance to face Rivers, who served as a mentor of sorts for Osweiler during his preparation for the 2012 draft.
Osweiler and Rivers share the same agent, Jimmy Sexton. And both were coached by Noel Mazzone, now the offensive coordinator at UCLA. Mazzone served as the offensive coordinator at North Carolina State for Rivers, and the offensive coordinator at Arizona State during Osweiler’s stint at the school.
Osweiler said he threw with Rivers at UCLA during his pre-draft preparation and also spent time with the veteran quarterback watching tape and talking about life in the NFL in the lead-up to the draft.
“I was impressed when he was coming out of at Arizona State,” Rivers said. “I liked the passion and love he has for the game, and his eagerness to learn. He was a young guy who didn’t think he had all the answers. He was real receptive, not that I was anybody to give him every answer, but he had the right approach.”
Added Osweiler: “He’s always been great to me. He’s somebody I have a ton of respect for. I see how hard he plays every single Sunday. It’s hard not to root for somebody like that.”
The two also share the same coach in the NFL. Chargers head coach Mike McCoy served as Denver’s offensive coordinator for Osweiler’s first season with the Broncos in 2012. And McCoy has been a significant influence in the resurgence of Rivers during his tenure as San Diego’s head coach, beginning in 2013.
“You loved the way he played the game, his attitude and his approach,” McCoy said about Osweiler. “When we talked to him way back when and sat down with him, he does not lack confidence. He doesn’t lack toughness. He loves to compete.
“He’s going to hang in there. You see the number of times he made the throw with someone coming right down on top of him. He’s a tough competitor. He throws a good ball. He has good accuracy and makes good decisions. He has a good career ahead of him.”
Both players had to wait their turn to get on the field. Rivers served as an understudy to Drew Brees for a year and a half before taking the reins with the Chargers in 2006. Osweiler waited three seasons before a foot injury to Peyton Manning forced him into the lineup.
Osweiler said he had a sticky note in his car that said: “Stay patient, and make the most of every day.”
While Osweiler said it was tough to watch quarterbacks from his draft class like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill have early success, he was also fortunate to learn the game under Manning.
“My experience with Peyton is really something that I’m extremely grateful for,” Osweiler said. “If I wouldn’t have got the past three years with Peyton, I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at today.
“The things that I’ve been able to learn from him, whether he was teaching me something specifically in one of our meetings, or a lot of the time I really learned things from Peyton was just watching him on Sundays. … He’s the ultimate professional. He’s the ultimate teammate. And the things I’ve learned from him, the list is endless.”
Osweiler said he’s looking forward to his third career start against an AFC West rival in the Chargers. And hopefully it’s a little longer than the short time he played at Qualcomm Stadium filling in for an injured Manning last year.
“My recollection was three quick plays and halftime,” said Osweiler with a laugh, when asked if he remembered his time on the field against San Diego last year. “Obviously I’m hoping for this next trip to San Diego to go a little bit better for myself.”