The M.O. of the San Diego Chargers is to get off to a really slow start and then make a late playoff push. This year they have flipped the script. The Chargers got off to a 4-1 start this season mainly because they took advantage of some cupcakes on their schedule and it looked like they would control their own destiny in the AFC West and get back to the playoffs this season after missing out last year. Not so fast. The Bolts schedule has gotten tougher and they have dropped four straight. After their loss to division leading Oakland on Thursday night they now find themselves at 4-5 and in second place in the AFC West after a tough home loss to division leading Oakland Thursday.
Philip Rivers is at the center of San Diego’s struggles. After a brilliant year in 2010 Rivers is having a year to forget. He has already tied his single season career high in interceptions with 15 through just nine games, he has made key gaffes late in games, and just doesn’t look like the same guy. His struggles have left people in San Diego scrambling for answers. Some have speculated that he has too many kids, there has even been talk about an injury that he is hiding. Whatever the reason is, Rivers needs to turn things around because he just hasn’t been good enough this season for the Chargers and the team’s playoff hopes fall squarely on his right arm.
Philip Rivers joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego with Darren Smith to talk about how nice it was to have a Thursday game and extra time to regroup, if he thinks he is getting hit more than ever this year, on his large number of interceptions, whether or not he thinks the Chargers are a playoff team, and if he is prepared to answer questions about the future of his head coach if things don’t turn around in San Diego.
How nice it was to have a Thursday game and extra time to regroup:
“Got to take a deep breath. Obviously it was three games in 11 days and it’s been a rough four game stretch so I think it was good. Not only just to get some rest but I think just the way that game was and having lost four in a row it was good to kinda let our mind heal a little bit and bodies and come in here with a good approach and get excited about going to Chicago. I think we’ve done that. It was pretty upbeat today and we get a normal week ahead of us.”
Whether or not he feels like he has been hit more this year than ever before in his career:
“I don’t know if that’s the case but I’ve had a couple that have been pretty good shots. I don’t know if that’s the case. I really don’t. We’re moving the ball good and teams are trying to get more and more creative with how to defend us. The game the other night we didn’t get as many first downs as normal and we had a few too many three and outs that we haven’t had in past games, even in this losing stretch we’ve been moving the ball good but we’ve turned it over and we’ve not scored in the red zone. If we fix those two things and that’s not an easy thing to do, but if we can get those two things squared away we’re gonna win a game, which is all we’re trying to do is win a game. There’s no consolation when you lose but as poorly as we’ve played in some aspect from a turnover standpoint, speaking of myself mainly, and lack of scoring points in the red zone, we’ve been a seven point or one score difference in the fourth quarter with the ball in all four of the games. We just haven’t gotten it done yet but it won’t hurt anybody’s confidence and it won’t keep us from fighting.”
On his large number of interceptions:
“I think it’s a combination of some things. Unfortunately there have been some that have been tipped and couldn’t find the ground and those happen every year. There’s also been some that could’ve been caught but have been dropped. Those happen. There’s been a couple of poor decisions and a couple of poor throws. I think there’s certainly times when there’s throw I can make and I didn’t make them. There’s really no other excuse, just make a better throw. There’s games where we’ve overcome those plays. Even in years past we’ve overcome them and won. This year we haven’t overcome them and they’ve come at real inopportune times. I’m bearing down like crazy to not throw any. At the same time you can’t not be aggressive and not try to go because we’ve gotta go, we’ve gotta go try and score points. There’s a fine line between being smart and being carless and certainly I’m not happy with as many turnovers as I’ve had but they’re gone and I can’t change any of them. I can have an effect on what I do with the football this Sunday and that’s what everybody’s focus is, trying to find a way to beat Chicago.”
On the idea that he is not having as much fun this year as usual:
“It can obviously be portrayed or seen differently on camera. I think if anything I’m less animated and going as I have been in the years past to be honest with ya. I’m trying to think back to this game and it was one of those deals where they played a lot of zone coverage and we’re trying to find ways to get completions and get touchdowns so there may have been more conversation than usual on the sideline with (Antonio) Gates and Norv (Turner) and I are talking about different things and just trying to get first downs. Nothing out of the ordinary. I think this might be the most I’ve talked to the refs this year but that was mainly because that touchdown that got called back. I was blown away, I couldn’t believe it was happening to us. I was like no way this is getting overturned. I will tell ya this I am having fun out there but it’s not much fun when you lose four in a row. It is fun to play the game and even as rough as these four games have been there’s memories from these games and the game inside the game that I will have forever that have been a lot of fun but when it’s a little bit of a struggle like it was Thursday night and we’re not moving the ball, it’s tense out there. Like I said if anything I’ve been a little less animated and a little less going than I have in years past. Just kind the way things have gone from it. Trying to just stay even keel as much as possible.”
Whether or not the Chargers are a playoff team this year:
“It remains to be seen but I certainly still believe that we can be a playoff team. I would hope that everyone in this locker room thinks we’re going to be a playoff team and I’m sure every other team in our division is saying the same thing. But we’ve gotta go do it. We still have to do it. At 4-8 I believe we were going to get in and we didn’t. History doesn’t mean anything is going to happen, we have to go make it happen. We wouldn’t be the first team to recover from 4-5 and go on a tear but we gotta win one before we can win two. We have to win our fifth game before we can win anymore. That’s been a bit of a struggle the last four weeks. We also wouldn’t be the first team to keep on the skid so we gotta find a way to win a football game. Certainly I believe we can be a playoff football team. We sat at 5-5 in 2007. We went to Jacksonville at 5-4, got beat, came home and didn’t lose another game until January 11th in New England or whenever it was. We’ve done it before but like I said we gotta get that first one. We gotta see what it feels like again to go out there as a team and put together a game and win.”
Whether or not he has thought about having to answer questions about Norv Turner getting fired:
“I haven’t because I believe we’re gonna get it turned around. You even said I’m the ultimate optimist so I don’t expect to have to answer any of those questions.”