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Mailbag: Rivers, Turnovers & the AFC West

Posted Sep 25, 2013

Check out this week's edition of Ricky Henne's Fan Mailbag.

Q: Philip is playing out of his mind right now.  What in your opinion is the reason behind him being fixed and reemerging as an elite quarterback?  – Charley Cuomo

A: Personally, I never agreed with the notion that Philip Rivers had to be “fixed”.   Truth be told, he has always been a top-notch quarterback. Yes, his numbers were down the previous two years entering 2013, but the notion that Philip needed to be “fixed” never resonated with me. That being said, Philip is playing great football right now, and the reason for that is he is a special player.  Rivers possesses three factors I believe are imperative to being a successful quarterback; he’s a smart player, he’s driven, and he has a competitive nature rivaled by few others.  He’s meshed well with Head Coach Mike McCoy, Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and Quarterbacks Coach Frank Reich. As a result, Philip is off to a tremendous start.  He has completed 70 of 100 passes (70 percent) for 798 yards, eight touchdowns and a rating of 116.2.  Among all NFL starting QBs, he ranks second in touchdowns and passer rating, and third in completion percentage.

Q: I went to San Diego State and am a big Vincent Brown fan.  I expected such big things out of him but he hasn’t done what I thought he’d do.  Is everything ok with him?  Is he healthy? Thank you! – Danny Littenhal

A: A few questions came in about Vincent, many asking if he was truly healthy, and the answer is yes, he is.  As far as the concerns about his impact this season, McCoy and as his teammates believe Brown’s time will come and he will contribute in a major way.  In fact, he already is contributing by doing the little things well such as drawing coverage away from other receivers and blocking downfield.  They may not show up on the stat sheet, but they are vitally important. Overall, he ranks fourth on the team with eight catches for 50 yards and one touchdown.  For more on Vincent, here’s  what McCoy had to say about him on Monday:

“It’s not like we’re not trying to get him the ball, it’s just Philip taking what the defense is giving him. All the receivers have done a great job of having the flexibility to move them around. In some of the no-huddle we have run, whether they are an X receiver or a Z receiver, they have done everything we asked them to do. His touches will come.”

Q: We are two games behind the Broncos and Chiefs in the AFC West and we are just three weeks into the season.  Is it over for us? – Robbie Genters

A: Like you said, we are just three weeks into the season.  There are still 13 games left to be played, and the Chargers still have all six of their AFC West matchups remaining.  It’s important not to get too worked up, when we aren’t even at the quarter pole of the season yet.  Also of note, last season the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins all began the season 1-2 before making the playoffs.

Q: A position that so often is overlooked or taken for granted and I think is vital is a team’s center. So much can go wrong from the snap to recovering from the snap to blocking effectively to, in our case, dictating the O line assignments. As a Chargers fan I will always feel grateful and lucky that we had the super reliable Nick Hardwick all these years. I'm sure he's a big, if rarely mentioned, part of any success we have had. Do you agree? – Steve Robinson

A: Yes, I do.  Hardwick is a steady force in the middle of the line and he has a great rapport with Philip Rivers.  In speaking with the other starters that lineup alongside of him, all four of them said Nick is critical to the team’s success.  He bonded with D.J. Fluker, King Dunlap and Chad Rinehart from the very moment they joined the team, and Jeromey Clary has said he has been a major help as he’s learned a new position.

Q: On BoltsCast I saw you mention the Chargers needing to create more turnovers on defense.  Thank you for saying that.  I’ve been saying the same thing.  My question is, how does the team go about creating more turnovers?  Thank you – Jonathan Rider

A: The Chargers have a -3 turnover ratio, but the offense has done a good job with ball security this season.  The team realizes they need to create turnovers, and they have emphasized that over the past few days. According to McCoy it’s all about a mindset.  They also believe once they get that next turnover, more will come.  It is something that is contagious. Here is what McCoy had to say about it:

“I think turnovers in this league, from a defensive perspective, are all about an attitude and the approach to the way you do it. You watch the game last night in Chicago, they create turnovers. They’ve done that year in and year out and they get them in bunches. So I think it’s a mindset. It’s a way you’ve got to practice and that’s what we’re trying to do here. We started all of last week and during camp. You start with the turnover circuit, ways to create them, drills you try to do and it’s just one of those deals where we’ve got to get our hand on more balls.”

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