The best photos of Philip Rivers from the 2015 campaign.
Everyone is familiar with Ken Whisenhunt's success as the Chargers' offensive coordinator in 2013.
The offense had one of their best seasons, bouncing back from a disappointing campaign the year before to rank fifth in yards per game (393.3), fourth in passing yards per game (270.5) and 13th in rushing yards per game (122.8). As a result, he was named the NFL Assistant Coach of the Year.
Between a strong relationship with Head Coach Mike McCoy and a number of players in the fold, there are many reasons why Whisenhunt decided to return as OC.
However, he listed one player above all else, and it's exactly who you'd think it to be.
"The one thing I'm most excited about is obviously Philip (Rivers), and the relationship and some of the things we were able to do. "
That relationship is well documented. In fact, last year some in the media speculated the Titans were attempting to trade for the quarterback in the lead up to the draft when he was Tennessee's head coach. Both teams fervently dismissed those rumors as having no merit, particularly the Chargers who insisted they had no interest in trading the franchise quarterback they reached a contract extension with a few months later.
Nonetheless, Whisenhunt is clearly pleased to be reunited with number 17 once again. It's easy to see why as he helped Rivers capture the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award in their lone year together. The QB was a Pro Bowl pick in 2013 after completing a team-record and NFL leading 69.5% of his passes for 4,478 yards, 32 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions for a team-record tying 105.5 passer rating. He set a new franchise record at the time with 378 completions and set the all-time team mark with three 400-yard passing games.
As a result, it's no surprise that number 17 reached out to Whisenhunt early in the process.
"He just sent me a text and asked if I had any interest in coming back. Just kind of feeling me out. I was floored that Philip would take that time, and it really meant a lot to me."
Rivers isn't the only player Whisenhunt is happy to have back at his disposal, as he's eager to reunite with a more seasoned Keenan Allen. The wide receiver was voted the Pepsi Next Rookie of the Year in 2013 as he caught 71 passes for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns during his first year in the league. One particular memory stands out for Whisenhunt when talking about KA13.
"I know he had a tremendous year (this year) before he got injured. He really had some production. But I go back to 2013 when he was a rookie. I still remember the Thursday night game in Denver where he caught the ball, and five yards (from the goal line) ran and hurdled the guy into the end zone, which is a huge play. (I remember) how much he grew that first year and what an important piece of the offense he was as a young player. You always like to see young guys like that have success and continue to grow. He's an exciting young man, and I really enjoyed my time with him when we were here together. It's nice to see how he's progressed."
At the same time, the OC is determined to jumpstart a rushing attack that has been largely dormant the past two seasons. The Chargers finished 30th and 31st pounding the rock since Whisenhunt left, so he knows getting the running game going is paramount. While Ryan Mathews led the team in rushing during his first go-round with the Bolts, Whisenhunt is enthused to see what he can do with Melvin Gordon.
"Just like everybody else, when you're with another organization you do evaluations of players," he explained. "I was very impressed with what I saw of him as a college player coming out. We had a high pick, and we knew that potentially he was one of the players that you had to consider with that. I was very impressed with what I saw from him off his college tape. I know his rookie season probably didn't go the way he wanted it to go, but he's a very talented young man that I'm excited to work with."
While Gordon is a new face in the backfield, Whisenhunt knows one of his counterparts quite well. Danny Woodhead posted his best year at the time under his tutelage, totaling 1,034 yards from scrimmage, 76 catches and eight touchdowns.
"We got Danny the first year we were here, and gosh, what a great player he's become. He already was, but it's been so great working with him."