Philip Rivers had a very bad year in 2012. For the first time since 2007 he failed to eclipse 4,000 yards passing. He also had 15 interceptions.
Head coach Norv Turner is now gone. That alone is reason for optimism on the offense, but wait there is more. Here are the five reasons Rivers will bounce back this year.
5. Wide Receiving Corps
When Vincent Jackson took his talents to Florida, there was a collective gasp in San Diego. When Vincent Brown broke his ankle in preseason there was a cry from the masses. And then the season began and we understood the reason for the overt expression of grief.
Jackson was missed. Brown missed the entire season. And Rivers felt the need to take up the slack for the missing parts.
This year will be different. We are counting on the wide receiving corps staying healthy. If they stay healthy it is reason for celebration.
Eddie Royal will play in the slot. Last year in 10 games Royal had 234 yards and one touchdown. This year his play in the slot will open up the field for the rest of the wide receivers.
Danario Alexander becomes a deep threat and a presence in the end zone. Last year Alexander proved he is capable. Toward the end of the season he came on strong. In seven starts he collected 658 yards on 37 receptions with seven touchdowns. Before his untimely injury he was fantasy gold for those who picked him up on the waiver wire.
Vincent Brown will have room to roam. And rookie Keenan Allen is giving Charger Nation reason for optimism.
If the new offense is employed, Rivers will not be counted on to go deep on every play. He can utilize his accuracy to increase his completion rate. That alone will raise him in fantasy world.
4. Running Game
Can Ryan Mathews remain healthy. Will Ronnie Brown be the addition they need? Brown was signed to a one-year contract. They also added running back Danny Woodhead from the New England Patriots. The hope is one of these will take the pressure off of Rivers.
A healthy Mathews is the hope. But Woodhead proved size doesn't matter. Last year Woodhead managed 201 yards on 76 carries. He also had four touchdowns. In comparison Brown had 220 yards on 46 carries with zero touchdowns; while often injured Mathews had 707 yards and one touchdown.
It appears Woodhead may be just the salve Rivers needs. And if Mathews remains healthy and lives up to his potential, a Woodhead-Mathews tandem is good.
3. Antonio Gates
Gates was a shell of himself last season. He collectted 49 passes for 538 yards and seven touchdowns. This was his lowest catch and yardage since his rookie season. He also played with a toe injury. Even injured and with low production, only five tight ends had more touchdowns than Gates.
So far this season, Gates has proclaimed himself healthy. But we have seen healthy or not when Gates is on the field he is a red zone threat. With Gates and Alexander as viable red zone targets, Rivers touchdown production will only increase.
2. Offensive Game Plan
Since taking the job, new head coach Mike McCoy has consistently told anyone who would listen that he believes Rivers will complete 70 percent of his passes in 2013. This will be an accomplishment as Rivers has never completed more than 66 percent of his passes in his career.
However, McCoy's system employs a dink and dunk offense that will highlight Rivers' accuracy.
Last season Rivers threw 26 touchdowns. He was the 21st ranked fantasy quarterback. The reason he was out of the top fifteen were the 15 interceptions. With more emphasis on short passes, Rivers' accuracy will increase, interceptions will decrease and his fantasy productivity will increase.
1. Mike McCoy
I have been lauding the praise of McCoy for some time now. Why? Lets's see, this is the same man who designed and implemented a game plan that made Tim Tebow a playoff winning quarterback. Then the next season he adjusted the game plan to fit Peyton Manning.
Is there any doubt he can do the same for Philip Rivers?
Rivers' Average Draft Position is currently the 12th round. He is the 20th quarterback off the board. It is a guarantee there will not be 20 quarterbacks better than Rivers this year. BOING, that is the sound of Rivers bouncing back.
Pick him as your QB2, you won't be sorry.
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