Monday, February 8, 2010

Philip Rivers: King of the Long Ball

Every time I watched the Chargers play, it always amazed me how often Philip Rivers hooked up with one of his receivers for a deep pass. Lots of QBs pile up big numbers because their receivers gain YAC but it always seems that with the Chargers, most of their yardage comes from when the ball is in the air (Sproles not withstanding). Thus, I tracked down the stats of all of the playoff QBs' numbers when they throw a pass 30 or more yards.

It's important to note that these are not 30+ yard pass plays but rather only plays in which the ball was in the air for 30 or more yards. Here are the yardage results on these plays as well as the number of 30+ yard pass completions for each QB:

Rivers' efficiency in throwing the deep ball is unparalleled; in fact, McNabb and Romo were the only QBs who had more 30+ yard completions than Rivers had 40+ yard completions (7). It certainly helps to have a pair of 6'5" receivers who can go up and pull down the pass but you still have to be accurate enough to put the receiver in such a position. Much was made of Rivers' funky throwing motion when coming out of NC State, but none of that should matter for any QB as long as he can put the ball where it needs to be.

When you look closer at his stats, you see that Rivers even has the chance to improve upon his average of 8.75 yards per attempt as now he doesn’t have to throw those 6-yard out routes to Chris Chambers just to keep his morale up.  Thru the first half of the season (with Chambers), Rivers averaged 8.19 yards YPA but during the last half of the season (without Chambers), Rivers averaged 9.48 YPA.  If he can maintain that 9.48 average over an entire season, then Rivers will have the third highest YPA in a single season since 1954.  Chambers’ mere presence in the lineup seemed to negatively affect Rivers; here’s how Rivers’ stats improved once Chambers was released:


  1. Neoplatonist BoltheadFebruary 9, 2010 at 6:56 PM

    Not fair about Chambers, man. Yeah, Malcom Floyd was a step up (and probably Legedu Naanee and Buster Davis too), but the real issue going on there was the OL. Mruczkowski and Vasquez in particular struggled early in the season, and improved dramatically as time went on.

  2. Chambers was pretty good in KC, but he was horrible in San Diego. (in part due to an off the field distraction). With SD he caught only 9 of 13 catchable passes while in KC he caught 36 of 37 catchable passes despite playing for a much worse QB.

    As for the O-line, yes they did markedly improve over the course of the season but it wasn't the interior line's fault of the early season struggles; it was the tackles. McNeill gave up a sack in each of the first 4 games and then only gave up 2 more the entire season and Dombrowski just took some time to adjust from moving from RG to RT to replace Clary.

  3. Neoplatonist BoltheadFebruary 10, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    @ Sports Guru: Totally agree on Chambers, but your numbers are off (I suspect it's a typo). With SD, Chambers caught 9 of 33, not 9 of 13. 9/33 reduces to 3/11, or a little over 27%. That is pretty scary.

    As far as the OL, the Chargers lost both the Baltimore and Denver games as a direct result of their inability to defend against A-gap blitzes with such inexperience on the interior. The Ray Lewis blitz on the last play of the Baltimore game pretty much set the tone for Pittsburgh and Denver, and their offensive improvement was really a matter of shutting down the interior pass rush (which they were doing really well by the @NYG game).

  4. No I meant 9 of 13 catchable passes. He may have been targeted more times but only 13 were catchable and thus, he had 4 drops. He only had 1 dropped pass with KC.

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