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Tag:Antonio Gates
Posted on: December 24, 2011 11:32 am
 

Report: V-Jax would be out in less important game

The Bolts need Jackson bad enough that he'll likely play through injury. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

In the middle of the week, Vincent Jackson suddenly appeared on the Chargers injury report with a groin injury. It was concerning, but there never appeared to be an issue with the wide receiver actually playing.

Until Sunday anyway; Adam Caplan of the Sideline View reports that Jackson is actually a lot more hindered by his groin injury than people believe. According to Caplan, had this been "another game of lesser importance, he probably would be listed as doubtful or out." Caplan notes that Jackson still wants to "test his injury in warmups" before deciding whether or not he'll play.

What makes Jackson's status interesting is the timing of the games on Sunday as it relates to the playoff race. San Diego doesn't play until 4:15, while Denver and Oakland suit up at 1:00 p.m. ET Saturday.

Should the Broncos win and the Raiders lose, Denver would clinch the AFC West. If that happens San Diego could only make the playoffs via the wild card and would need the Jets and Bengals to both lose at least once over the next two weeks.

So a Denver win and an Oakland loss means that the Chargers aren't quite as alive as they were after last week and we could potentially see Jackson on the sidelines.

Even if V-Jax does play, there's a pretty good chance he serves as a decoy of sorts, and Norv Turner and Philip Rivers will run the offense through Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd.


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Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:01 am
 

Film Room: Lions vs. Chargers preview


Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

The Lions were that Feel Good team of 2011. Then they started shoving coaches after the game, hitting quarterbacks after the throw, fighting opponents after the play, stomping linemen after the whistle and meekly apologizing for it all after the fact. Thus, they’re now the team everybody wants to see get its comeuppance.

In some ways, they’re like the Chargers – a team that, over the years, has mastered the art of irritating casual onlookers. They haven’t done it with reckless hostility, but rather, perplexing underachievement. If the NFL were like college basketball, where Final Four appearances and division titles mattered, the Chargers would be a dynasty.


Instead, they’re the club that always falls on its face but somehow manages to sneak into the postseason…only to fall on its face again. At least during the regular season they get hot at the right time – this year looking like no exception.

Let’s breakdown these two irritating clubs.

1. Motion
The Chargers offense is perhaps the best in football at using presnap motion to dissect a defense and create favorable matchups. Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan recently took a page out of Norv Turner’s playbook.

After operating out of static formations virtually all season, the Lions created glaring mismatches by motioning Calvin Johnson into the slot against the Raiders last week. The results were extraordinary: Johnson, often working against Oakland’s backup safeties, had a career-high 214 yards receiving. Matthew Stafford threw for 391, with four touchdowns and no turnovers.

It might reason that the Lions will use more presnap motions this week, but that’s not a sure thing. If creating big-play opportunities were as simple as putting players in motion, Linehan would have had his players doing that long ago. But when you change your formation, the defense changes. When the defense is playing man, the changes are easy to read. But when the defense is playing zone, things become more complex.

With an inexperienced quarterback (Stafford will be making only his 28th start Sunday), fairly young tight end (Brandon Pettigrew), rookie wide receiver (Titus Young) and athletic but somewhat unrefined superstar (Johnson), Linehan may once again prefer to keep the Chargers defense – which usually plays to the situation, meaning zone on early downs and man on third down – as static as possible. The drawback with a static offense is it’s obviously easier for the defense to decipher, as there are fewer complexities in route combinations.

2. The running backs
Ryan Mathews has improved throughout his second season. He has the quickness, lateral agility and tempo-changing ability to create his own space or turn the corner. Physicality, down-to-down consistency, ball security and durability remain issues. In a pinch, the Chargers know they can fall back on the powerful, surprisingly versatile Mike Tolbert.

The Lions’ run game became an afterthought when rookie Mikel Leshoure’s Achilles tore in August. Statistically, things actually picked up on the ground for Detroit after receiving-oriented Jahvid Best went out with a concussion.

When healthy, Best’s replacement, Kevin Smith, has shown some suddenness and shiftiness, which makes him a good fit for this shotgun system. But overall, Detroit is unquestionably a pass-first team (28th in rushing yards, 31st in rushing attempts). That’s fine – as their 28 points per game (fourth best in NFL) attest.

3. Chargers O-line vs. Lions D-line
Figure San Diego must score 30 points to beat Detroit. That would have been dicey a few weeks ago when left tackle Marcus McNeill and left guard Kris Dielman first went down with injuries. But with left tackle Jared Gaither coming aboard and relieving helpless backup Brandyn Dombrowski, the front five has stabilized. Dielman’s replacement, Tyronne Green, has settled down in pass protection, and center Nick Hardwick has looked like his former Pro Bowl self.

Philip Rivers is arguably the best in the business at stepping into throws with defenders bearing down. He doesn’t need a clean pocket – just protection that can hold up for a seven-stop drop. The Chargers are up to the task, even if they’re facing the Lions’ high-octane front four. Last week, that front four was actually neutralized by a middle-tier Raiders bunch that had struggled mightily in prior weeks.

4. Rivers and his receivers
If Rivers is not under duress, he’ll throw for at least 325 yards Sunday. The Lions play some of the most basic Cover 2 and Cover 3 zones in football and simply don’t have the personnel to stay with Vincent Jackson or Malcom Floyd – especially with starting free safety Louis Delmas out.

Lions corners Chris Houston and Eric Wright are at their best playing off-coverage, where they can see a route develop in front of them and drive on the ball. The vertical nature of San Diego’s passing game, which is heavy on double moves, can be anathema to that brand of cornerbacking.

Inside, though Detroit’s linebackers can run, and though middle ‘backer Stephen Tulloch can play with depth in zone coverage, the Antonio Gates factor is still a major plus for the Boltz. Gates looks healthier than he has all season.



5. Screen game
Last week the Raiders became the latest team to successfully attack the Lions with screen passes. Because the Lions’ front seven defenders all play with their ears pinned back, offenses frequently use delay and misdirection tactics to coax them out of position. The faster a defender reacts in the wrong direction, the more daunting his recovery task.

San Diego regularly incorporates its running backs in the passing game (Tolbert and Mathews each have 47 receptions on the season). Expect several of the running back’s passes to be screens this week, especially early in the game when the Lions will, as always, will be amped up.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 8 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: December 17, 2011 2:12 pm
 

Antonio Gates on Ravens, Norv, Tebow, Snapdragon

By Will Brinson

Antonio Gates knows the Chargers are up against it. (Getty Images)

The Chargers are fighting for their lives to make the playoffs right now and their toughest test comes Sunday against Baltimore in San Diego. For that game -- and the rest of the season -- the Chargers are renaming their home field "Snapdragon Stadium."

In advance of the first ever game in Snapdragon Stadium on Sundya night, we talked to all-world Chargers tight end Antonio Gates about his health, whether the Bolts can make the playoffs, how much Norv Turner's job security is one the line, the upcoming Ravens game, why Philip Rivers struggled so much during the early part of the season, whether Tim Tebow's getting too much media attention and much more:

Will Brinson: Alright, so the Chargers are changing the name to Snapdragon Stadium, can you talk about the what's going on with that and the process involved?

Antonio Gates: I'm actually looking forward to it, playing in Snapdragon Stadium for the first-ever time Sunday. For people who don't know know, Snapdragon is the heart of your smartphone and it does so many different things. It allows you to watch HD video, play video games, it allows you to search the web without draining your battery, so it's definitely going to be a fun experience, it's definitely going to be an amazing experience and I'm just looking forward to it this Sunday.

WB: Cool deal - big crowd, blackout's lifted and you've got just five catches to break Charlie Joiner's franchise record for receptions. Is that something you're eying for Sunday night?

AG: I'm not trying to go out of my way to get it. It's not like Sunday night's game is about me getting five catches. But it would definitely be an honor to be able to break the record at home, if that's in the midst of the game, if you will, because it's whatever helps us win the game. We still have an opportunity to go to the playoffs if things fall our way.

WB: Yeah, you guys have been hot. You've got 36 catches, 400 yards and five touchdowns since November and you haven't been on an injury report since December 3 that I can see. Just how healthy are you with the plantar fascitis right now?

AG: It's definitely getting better -- it's allowing me to do more physically which ultimately gives me a better chance which helps our football team win the game. I think you see glimpses of that at times, me making catches,  me having pretty good games -- last week I had a pretty good game -- so you see glimpses of it, but it's still an ongoing process.

WB: Yeah, it's a nasty injury. Look, there was a Yahoo Sports article and there was someone who said you'd looked like you'd gotten older … it was kind of disparaging from an unnamed source I'd say. Did you see that and did that motivate you at all?

AG: Nah, it had nothing to do with my motivation at all. To me, outsiders never had any impact on what I do day to day. I've always said that I control my own destiny, and part of that was me just getting back to being healthy. Like I said, there wasn't anything motivating me from the outside of me trying to put this team in the best position to win and go after a championship.

WB: Right on. Philip Rivers was an enigma early in the season and no one could really figure out what was going on, but he seems to have really hit his rhythm in December. Do you guys have any clue why he was struggling early on?

AG: Well, one thing about this league is that the perception is that the quarterback is struggling. It's not always the case. Things could be broken down in other areas but somehow the quarterback takes all the responsibility. And I think that's what was the case when I hear people say things about Philip or about guys on this team.

There's just so much with the one person you see on a consistent basis. Guys will see Philip throwing the ball and if it's an interception, you say "Wow he keeps throwing interceptions," but what people fail to realize is that protection schemes or the wrong route probably played just as big a role in that interception as him actually throwing it.

WB: Yeah, that makes sense. The hidden injury theory's gotten blown out the last couple of weeks -- Ryan Mathew's been on fire the last few weeks. Do you think he's capable of stepping up and becoming a legit feature back?

AG: He definitely has the ability and the potential to be one of the elite backs in the NFL. You can see the maturity level, you can see the growth and that's always a positive thing for a young player who comes in the league.

WB: A lot has been made, at least in reports, that Norv Turner's job is on the line. Is that something you guys worry about when focusing on the next game?

AG: Yeah, a lot of people like to point that out and use the coach as a tool like that. But if his job's on the line that means the rest of the players jobs are on the line. So I think collectively we understand that this is a performance-driven business and with all due respect, we want to the do the right things to enhance our performance, or else you find the best man for the job. I think that's just the nature of this business.

WB: So you guys recognize that he could be out at the end of the year then?

AG: It's just the reality for anyone playing in this league or coaching in this league. To me we're trying to do what we can control, which is win the next game. I think you come in, you prepare, you go about everything first class and then at the end of the season you have to wait and see what happens. There are things that just aren't in your control. And what you can control is how you prepare and how you continue to be a first-class citizen in how you go about your way. And that's definitely the case with this organization and this coaching staff. They continue to come in and work as hard as they can and put us in the best position to win.


WB: Alright, talk about this game on Sunday -- the Ravens defense is obviously stout and typically limits tight ends pretty well. You got anything you guys are planning on gameplanning to throw the Ravens off their game?

AG: Well we know it's a tough challenge. We know they're a very physical defense and a very good football team. In my opinion, they're probably one of the best football teams in the league right now, just because they can do so many different things. They can beat you so many different ways -- they can throw the ball down the field, they can run the ball, they can stop the run, they can cover. They're great in special teams, they're well-coached, so it's gonna be a tough challenge on Sunday night.

WB: OK, I'll get you out on this -- I gotta ask you about this guy first and I feel bad about asking you, but Joe Flacco was complaining about him and all we hear these days is "Tebow" and you guys play him in the division, so are you guys sick of hearing "Tebow, Tebow, Tebow" all the time yet? Are you tired of it yet?

AG: You know, I feel for the other 10 guys that's on the field with him. Really, I do, because the perception is it's about Tim Tebow. And I think the world of him, I think he's a very good football player, but I can honestly say that it's more than Tim Tebow on that team. That's the reason they're winning those football games.

At some point, the credit does go to the quarterback, but that defense is phenomenal, that run game is phenomenal and the offensive line is protecting him to the point where he's not getting touched either. There's so many factors in the game, and I have no problems with them talking about it, but it is what is and I understand he's not doing it all by himself.

WB: Haha, that's a wise answer, my friend. Hey, thanks again for talking to us.

AG: No problem man, take it easy.

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Posted on: November 26, 2011 12:15 pm
 

Is Philip Rivers playing hurt?

We might not find out if Rivers is really injured until after the season. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Through 10 games this season, Philip Rivers has thrown 17 interceptions. His previous high in five seasons as the Chargers starting quarterback: 15 in 2007, and that was over 16 games. Annually considered one of the league's best quarterbacks, Rivers' sudden plunge into mediocrity has been, well, baffling.

Offensively, the names are virtually unchanged, although Vincent Jackson and Rivers seem to find themselves on different pages of the playbook on a weekly basis, and tight end Antonio Gates doesn't yet appear to be fully healthy. Ryan Matthews occasionally flashes first-round talent, but he still lacks consistency. Then there's the offensive line which, due to injuries, is currently held together with duct tape and chicken wire. And let's not forget head coach Norv Turner, who could be out of a job come January.

While all of these issues play some role in Rivers' Season of Forgettable Football, there might be a simpler answer: he's hurt.

You'd never know it to ask him (he's denied it every time the question comes up), but there's a growing belief in league circles that Rivers' unexplained slide can actually be explained pretty easily: he's not 100 percent.

"Rivers repeatedly says nothing is wrong, but numerous NFL executives and coaches around the league disagree," ESPN's Adam Schefter wrote Friday. "What has happened many times in the past is that a quarterback who struggles during the season will acknowledge afterward that he was hurt. It wouldn't be stunning if the same happened with Rivers. Based on the opinion of people around the league, Rivers has to be playing hurt, no matter how much he denies it."

Sports Illustrated's Peter King echoed those sentiments during a Friday appearance on NBC SportsTalk, suggesting that we'll learn after the season that Rivers was playing hurt.

It sure would explain a lot, though we suspect such a revelation won't do much for Turner's job security.

The gamble, assuming any of this is true, presumably was that Rivers at less than full strength still gave the Chargers the best chance to win, especially in a relatively weak AFC West. Well, as it turns out, the West is relatively weak ... and San Diego is still a bad team. Not all of that is on Rivers; he's played better in recent weeks. The defense has been atrocious and Turner's aforementioned game-management issues haven't helped, either.

Wherever the truth may lie, here's the reality right now: the Chargers are 4-6 and tied for last in the division. They'll probably need to go 9-7 to have a chance to win the West. If the previous 10 games are any indication, that's all but impossible. Then again, we say this every year, and almost every year, San Diego makes a late charge. We're just not sure they have it in them this time around.

Fun starts Sunday when Tim Tebow comes to town.


After a win over the Jets last week, the Denver Broncos hope to keep their streak alive as they take on the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. NFL.com's Pat Kirwan and Jason Horowitz preview this game. Watch the game at 4:15 PM ET on CBS.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 3:40 pm
 

Film Room: Bears vs. Chargers preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


The Chargers have not won a game since we featured (and lauded) them in a Week 7 Film Room post. The Bears, on the other hand, are white-hot, having won four straight in taking over the NFC wild card lead.

Here’s a five-part breakdown of the two teams in this Sunday’s late afternoon showdown at Soldier Field.


1. Quarterback
It was not long ago that the preeminent strong-armed, interception-prone quarterback in his mid-twenties with an on-field demeanor that rubbed many the wrong way was Jay Cutler. This season, however, it’s Philip Rivers.

His league-leading 15 interceptions have been genuine turnovers – not the kind of cheap tipped picks that plagued Eli Manning last season. Rivers’ downfield accuracy has waffled. He also has been uncomfortable passing from a dirty pocket. That’s alarming given that his best trait in years past has been making strong throws in the face of pressure.

Cutler knows all about operating in the face of pressure. However, lately he’s been throwing from much cleaner platforms. Because he has the strongest raw arm in football, he does not necessarily need to set his feet in order to throw. He’s a solid athlete with underrated mobility that allows him to buy time. But it’s when the time is bestowed upon him and he is able to set his feet that he gets in rhythm.

It’s not quite a Brady/Brees/Rodgers-like rhythm – Cutler has too many fundamental flaws for that – but it’s a potent enough rhythm to carry a team to victory.

2. Offensive line
The reason Cutler has been more comfortable is he trusts his pass protection. Mike Martz knows that his unathletic offensive line cannot hold up long enough to consistently protect seven-step drops, so he’s built more three-and five-step drops into the gameplan (though the Bears did drift away from this just a bit against the Lions last week). As Cutler has said, he’s potent when he has room to throw.

To be fair, the Bears offensive linemen have elevated their play as of late. Guard Lance Louis has been particularly solid since becoming the new right tackle. Losing left guard Chris Williams (on I.R. with a wrist injury) hurts because, until Gabe Carimi returns from his knee problem (he’s missed seven games and underwent arthroscopic surgery last week), Frank Omiyale will likely play. Omiyale was a train wreck at right tackle earlier this season. He played guard earlier in his career, but if he were truly viable there, he never would have moved outside. Edwin Williams replaced Chris Williams last week, but the Bears have not named him the new starter. He could still be in the mix.

Either way, offensive line coach Mike Tice will have his hands full helping this group continue performing at an acceptable level.

Rivers has felt a lot of Cutler’s old pain as of late. Left tackle Marcus McNeill has fought injuries the past few weeks; after he left the Raiders game last Thursday night, backup Brandyn Dombrowski was eaten alive. Inside, backup left guard Cornell Green, filling in for All-Pro Kris Dielman (out since suffering a concussion-related seizure after the loss to the Jets), has struggled to move his feet in pass protection.

Even though Norv Turner’s playbook is heavy on slow-developing downfield passes, the Chargers did not give the left side of their line much help last Thursday. That should change going up against Julius Peppers.

3. Receivers
Once again, these two clubs are going in opposite directions. The Bears have recently gotten healthy outside, with Earl Bennett back and showing newfound quickness. Bennett is no longer just a plodding possession slot receiver – he’s Cutler’s go-to guy. His presence has eased the burdens on the unreliable Roy Williams and permanently raw Devin Hester.

Also, what can’t be understated is the brilliance of Matt Forte. His success on the ground has given the offense balance, which helps the passing attack. Forte is also one of the best receiving backs in the league.

The Chargers, on the other hand, are without Malcom Floyd (hip injury). His absence has been ameliorated by the flashes of athletic explosiveness from rookie Vincent Brown.

However, San Diego’s usual stars have disintegrated in recent weeks. Antonio Gates has looked heavy-footed and Vincent Jackson has consistently failed to separate against man coverage. Jackson had a three-touchdown outburst against Green Bay thanks in part to some coverage busts. But in the three games before that, he caught a total of seven balls for 98 yards. Last week against Oakland, he had just one reception for 22 yards.

4. Cornerbacks
It will be tough for Jackson to reignite at Soldier Field. Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is having arguably the best season of his stellar career. Tillman thoroughly won his one-on-one battle against Calvin Johnson last week, using a mixture of aggressive press coverage and well-timed post-reception physicality from off-coverage positions.

Tillman, like all Bears cornerbacks, used to only play one side of the field. It was part of Chicago’s strict Cover 2 scheme. But as this season has progressed, Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli have drifted away from Cover 2 and more towards single-high safety concepts with the corners playing both man and zone principles. This allows the other safety to roam the field as an extra run supporter or, more often, versatile pass defender.

Consequently, the corners have moved around based on matchups. Tillman defends the opposing team’s biggest (and often most dangerous) receiver, while Tim Jennings (who is having the best season of his career) follows the smaller-but-quicker No. 2 receiver. The commendable performance of these corners is the reason Chicago has been able to spice up its defensive scheme.

In sticking with our theme, San Diego’s secondary has been increasingly disappointing the past month. Left corner Quintin Jammer and slot corner Dante Hughes have been fine, but on the right side, Antoine Cason and rookie Marcus Gilchrest have taken turns replacing one another in the starting lineup. Free safety Eric Weddle moves well and has some interceptions, but he’s not a true stopper.



5. Defensive front
A feeble pass-rush doesn’t help matters for San Diego. The loss of Shaun Phillips (still out with a foot injury) and Larry English (injured reserve) leaves the Chargers with journeymen Antwan Barnes and Travis LaBoy on the edges. Barnes is fast and has actually been as impactful as his team-high six sacks suggest. LaBoy’s run defense compensates for his low sack total (1).

Still, the bottom line is the forces that once buttressed San Diego’s pass-rushing depth are now the forces that comprise San Diego’s pass-rush period.

If the Chargers want to generate consistent pressure on the quarterback, they have to blitz. Inside linebacker Victor Butler and slot corner Dante Hughes are the two best options for this. Blitzing is not preferable for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, though.

It’s never been preferable for the Bears. They almost exclusively use a traditional four-man pass-rush, which works when you have a deep rotation, a highly-skilled No. 2 rusher like Israel Idonije and a monster like Peppers. In an effort to create matchup problems, Peppers has been lining up at both end positions and, lately, inside on certain passing downs.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 11 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 7, 2011 2:21 pm
 

Antonio Gates gets ripped for being 'old and fat'

Posted by Will Brinson

The Chargers are struggling, obviously. At 4-4 after their loss to Green Bay, though, they're still in a position to win the AFC West, although figuring out exactly what is bothering quarterback Philip Rivers would probably be nice.

On Monday morning, Yahoo Sports Mike Silver pegged the blame on someone else -- Chargers general manager A.J. Smith. Silver argues that other general managers wouldn't grab much talent off San Diego's roster, and that includes tight end Antonio Gates, who was called "old and fat" by Silver's team source.

"It’s harsh to say, but he looks old and fat," the source told Silver about Gates. "He’s not beating people. We don’t have any speed, we’re soft on defense, and we put so much on our quarterback. When he was playing great, we could kind of get away with it. Now he’s not playing very well, and it’s all falling apart."

This is supposed to be an indictment (I think) of Smith's ability to construct a roster, but obviously it comes off as quite insulting to Gates. And it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, honestly.

Week 9 Review

Gates is older, at the age of 31. And he is slower, considering that he's dealing with plantar fascitis. Has he gained weight? Well maybe, but whatever, he's still been pretty productive thus far this season, catching 25 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns.

At that pace, Gates will catch 772 passing yards over the course of the season. Just four tight ends since the merger have caught more than 775 passing yards in a season after turning 31. Tony Gonzalez did it three times, Shannon Sharpe did it twice and Mickey Shuler and Wesley Walls each did it once.

None of those guys played less than 15 games, either. Which is a nice way of saying that while the Chargers might be in trouble when it comes to their current roster construction, the quality of Gates play isn't the issue.

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Posted on: November 7, 2011 10:08 am
Edited on: November 7, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Rivers 'not hurt,' frustrated by injury questions

Posted by Will Brinson

Despite throwing four touchdown passes, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers still had a pretty rough day in San Diego's 45-38 loss to Green Bay Sunday.

Rivers threw three interceptions, two of which were returned by the Green Bay secondary for touchdowns, and the other which sealed the Packers victory. Adding salt to the proverbial wound was Rivers having to answer questions about his health, again.

"I appreciate everybody trying to come up with a theory and a reason but I’m not hurt," an exasperated Rivers said following San Diego's loss on Sunday. "I’ve thrown a handful of picks that I normally don’t throw and I’ll probably throw some more throughout my career and there won’t always be a reason why. I prepare, I give everything I’ve got, give our guys everything I’ve got, and they fooled me once today and the other one got tipped.
The one at the end, I wish I would’ve thrown it up high and deep and given Vincent a chance but I didn’t.

"Health is not an issue, it’s never been an issue on any interception I’ve ever thrown in eighteen years of football."

It's hard to blame Rivers for getting a little frustrated at all the questions about an injury that everyone seems to think he might be hiding -- the media seems determined to peg Rivers' struggles on the fact that he's hurt something.

The reality is probably closer to what Chargers owner Dean Spanos noted on Sunday after the game to NBC's Alex Flanagan.

Week 9 Review

"Sometimes you just have an off year," Spanos said. "That is what Philip Rivers is having so far."

Interestingly, Rivers isn't the only one struggling with interceptions this season -- Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Rivers have combined for a whopping 35 interceptions on the season. Those three quarterbacks threw 39 all of last year, with 22 of them coming from Brees.

That's not supposed to excuse Rivers play, because he's only thrown 11 touchdowns against his 14 picks. But assume Rivers is having a bad year.

And then add in the fact that he's dealt with injuries to Antonio Gates (which hurts his red zone and touchdown production) and several wideouts (hurting his timing with his weapons).

That adds up to a much more logical reason for his struggles than some mystery injury.

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Posted on: November 3, 2011 9:17 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 9:23 am
 

LT: Rivers 'distracted' due to being 'the guy'?

Posted by Will Brinson

Philip Rivers is struggling right now, no question about it. Statistically, he's way off his production from the past two season in 2011. And the Chargers final play of regulation in a tough loss to Kansas City Monday, in which Rivers fumbled a snap before taking a knee, sums it up succinctly.

No one's precisely sure what's wrong with Rivers, but there are multiple theories -- a hidden injury, offensive injuries, Antonio Gates' health -- as to why he's not performing up to par. Rivers' former teammate, LaDainian Tomlinson, has his own idea, and it involves leadership.

"I don't know what Philip may be going through right now. But I will say, to me, he seems distracted for some reason," Tomlinson said to the media recently. "It just seems like he's distracted. I always said this: It's hard to be the guy on the team. When they say this is your team. It's hard to be that guy now. Because you get all the questions of what's wrong and what's right.

"Then, you get your teammates that expect certain things from you. When that doesn't happen, you get strange looks in the locker room. So it's hard to be that guy when it's your team. So that may have a little bit to do with what's going on."

I'm not so sure this rings true. Rivers played all of 2010 without Tomlinson, and though the Chargers didn't make the playoffs, he had a monster statistical year and kept the Bolts afloat despite more injuries than they suffered so far this year.



It sounds like A.J. Smith, Chargers GM, probably agrees with me. Or just doesn't like Tomlinson sticking his beak in someone else's business.

"I agree with what LT said about it’s hard being the guy," Smith said, via the San Diego Union-Tribune. "But I think it’s a lot harder when it’s no longer your team, and you’re not the guy."

Annnnd, burn. Oh right, but Rivers had a comment as well.

"Based on what you told me," Rivers said. "He has to be speaking from experience. I don’t feel that burden, nor has it had anything to do with the struggles.

"People say, 'It's your team.' I’ve never bought into that."

Naturally, Smith and Rivers are referencing the fact that Tomlinson wasn't exactly a leader in his final year with the Chargers. As you may recall, before the 2010 season began, Rivers expressed that there was "a little bit of relief" in San Diego with Tomlinson gone.

This went over really well with Tomlinson, who ripped back at Rivers and Gates, so to say he's not biased on this subject is silly.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com