The quarterbacks on the tips of most fans’ tongues when asked about the leagues top signal callers are nearly always Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Former Bolt and now Super Bowl winner Drew Brees is usually mentioned in the next breath after that, but there may be a shakeup in those rankings coming soon.
The debate over the best man under center of all-time has been an age old question debated in bars and on sports talk shows for years, but most NFL aficionados agree that Dan Marino is in that discussion. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is in the midst of a season that has him on the cusp of eclipsing the stratospheric numbers of Marino during his magical 1984 campaign when the former Miami Dolphin accumulated 5,084 yards through the air.
In 2008, a former Bolt nearly took down that quarter century old record when now New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for 5,069 yards respectively.
The torrid pace that Rivers is currently on is even more amazing considering the fact that his numbers to this point have been without some significant aerial targets. Vincent Jackson’s saga has been playing out since the preseason while injuries have ravaged the receiving corps as well. Both Legedu Naanee and Malcom Floyd have missed the last two games with injuries while Antonio Gates was also forced to sit out a contest with an ailing foot. Combine those issues with Buster Davis already on injured reserve and that leaves some less than household names catching passes.
One positive to this situation for the team has been the fact that Rivers and rookie Seyi Ajirotutu have been developing a bit of chemistry together. Preseason trade acquisition Patrick Crayton has also been a big help to keeping the Bolts passing attack in flight. Ajirotutu had a huge game again Houston week 9 with 121 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In the absence of Gates, veteran tight end Randy McMichael was able to catch the other two touchdown throws from Rivers last weekend.
Another reason for optimism is the fact that the Bolts bye week is hitting at an ideal time for the team to recuperate from the first nine weeks and get healthy. With Naanee and Floyd out for the previous two games, this bye week will give them a total of nearly a full month away from the field which should be enough time to get back to full strength. Gates will likely be a week-to-week situation for the foreseeable future, but hopefully the time off gives him the chance to get ready coming out of the bye. When V Jack is reinserted into the Bolts attack for the week 12 tilt at Indianapolis, Rivers will have yet another elite target to throw to in his quest of the yardage record.
The success of Rivers isn’t nearly as potent without the threat of the ground game and Ryan Mathews has been nicked up a bit all year as well. If he can get back into good health, that two back attack with Mike Tolbert will force defenses to remain honest and respect the Bolts running game.
Perhaps the best part about Rivers in pursuit of this statistical achievement is the fact that it is never about the numbers with him (other than the ones on the scoreboard, of course). When asked about Marino’s record and just how he feels about approaching that piece of history, Rivers’ response was team first as always saying: “That wouldn’t be one of the things I even think about coming into a year. If we can keep going and executing like we are, protecting the ball and winning games, if that comes with it, I mean… Certainly where we sit at the halfway mark and all that, I’m not thinking, ‘Oh, let’s make sure we go and do that.’ We just want to go win. If we throw for 230 the rest of the way out and win the rest of them, I won’t see it as a missed opportunity.”
If you are an NFL historian then you are already aware of the fact that Marino’s record season ended with a Super Bowl loss for his Miami Dolphins. Fans are hoping that Rivers shares two things in common with Marino following this season (the record and the Super Bowl appearance), but it would be preferable to be on the other side of the outcome on February 6th.
Let’s hear some fan opinion. Is Rivers in that upper echelon of quarterbacks with Manning and Brady or does he still have some work to do to reach that level? With the Bolts getting healthy following the bye, could Rivers possibly have a more productive second half of the season than the first or will he level out as the year progresses? Can the Bolts pass based attack lead them to the postseason on a potential Super Bowl run or will they falter if they fail to maintain a balanced look on offense? Will history repeat itself with a new NFL passing yardage record holder and a Super Bowl appearance for the Bolts or will Rivers and/or the team fall short of these expectations? Give your take in the comments section below!
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