This post was written by Chris Fedor of WKNR in Cleveland. If you go back to the NFL draft in 2004, it has a chance to go down as one of the best quarterback drafts in a long, long time. In 2004, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger were all top-15 picks and none have really disappointed. So far, they have combined to throw for over 43,000 yards, have accounted for nearly 300 touchdowns and have a total of three Super Bowl rings. In fact, the only one without a Championship is Philip Rivers.
For the past couple of years, San Diego has been one of the best teams in the NFL in terms of talent, but they just have not been able to clear that hurdle and capture the elusive ring. For the past couple of seasons, the Chargers have been one of the most talented teams in the NFL, but have yet to put it all together. They’ve consistently gotten off to slow starts and have had to charge late just to get into the playoffs. The same thing has happened this season. San Diego is 2-2 and trail the undefeated Broncos by two games in the AFC West. They once again have dug themselves a hole that they must crawl out of to live up to the enormous expectations placed on this team. When they return to action following a bye this weekend, five of their next seven games will be divisional matchups and everyone will find out really quick if it’s going to be a disappointing season or if they can once again rally.
Philip Rivers joined Scott Van Pelt on ESPN Radio to talk about the slow start to the season, the criticism of Norv Turner and the comments made by General Manager A.J. Smith this week about the team being “soft.”
On the slow start heading into the bye week:
“It’s not where we wanted to be. We knew we were going to have a tough first four game stretch before we got to the bye. We’ve been through the ringer with injuries, obviously the opponents that we’ve played have been tough, and then we haven’t played well. I think the combination of all three of those things have gotten us to a two and two start. The two teams that we’ve lost to were in the AFC Championship game last year. That’s no consolation, but we’ve lost to some good football teams. I think the bye comes at a good time for us, we’re able to get some guys healthy and then regroup for what’s going to be three straight division games starting with Denver on Monday night in a couple of weeks.”
On digging a hole again at the beginning of the season:
“There’s no question. We can’t count on being down three or four games with four to play like last year happened. We certainly don’t want to get in that position. It’s still early. I think five of our next eight are division opponents so we know what’s ahead and we feel like although we’re not pleased with being two and two we’re still in position to control our own as we head into the division games.”
On the criticism of Norv Turner:
“I think anytime the expectations were such around town and driven from the media that seems to be where the finger is pointed and people tend to get upset. Norv has the full respect from this team and confidence. There’s no message, a different scheme, practice or a different approach that was going to change necessarily the two and two start. We know what we do around here, we do it at a high level, and we practice at a high level. We just for whatever reason, the past couple of years we’ve stumbled around. I think the last two years we were at one and three and really a little different start. We go to Oakland and win, we lose to Baltimore at the end, Miami we beat at home who was a playoff team last year, then we go to Pittsburgh and it kind of got away from us early. I still see it a little differently as I did the past two years. I think with all the injuries we’ve dealt with and our opponents that we’ve faced that certainly had something to do with it. It’s not as if we would’ve played a little bit better football we’re going to just run through this league. We know it’s going to be tough each and every week and we’re determined to bounce back from our two and two start and get this thing going.”
On the comments made by GM A.J. Smith:
“I think we’ll rally. I really do. Everybody is disappointed right now. Nobody is pleased. Two and two we’re not pleased with, but I think the way we went to Pittsburgh, Sunday night football, how it got out of hand so early, obviously I think we showed some toughness, character and really what we’re all about. We had it a seven point game with four and a half minutes left.”
On whether they can feel good about the way the team fought back against Pittsburgh:
“I think so, there’s no consolation for that, but I guarantee you on that other sideline they weren’t feeling too easy when it was cut to seven with four and a half left and we kind of had gotten it going offensively and gotten a few turnovers. We didn’t win the game, but you find out some stuff about your team of the character and the right people we have in this locker room. Everybody is disappointed. We’re going to get it going, we know what we have, this is a core group of players that’s been 4 and 8, 5 and 5 and rattled off six, seven, or eight in a row a couple of years ago when we made the AFC championship run. We’ve got the right kind of guys and the right group and we’ll keep this thing together. The bye week has come at a good time. Just let the dust settle a little bit and then hopefully we can crank up some more dust in the right direction starting with Denver.”
Listen to Philip Rivers on ESPN Radio on The Scott Van Pelt Show (7:20 into podcast)