Rivers intent on getting Chargers above .500
SAN DIEGO (AP)
Unlike his knack this season for checking out of plays at the line of scrimmage, Rivers isn't checking out of the team's hotel this weekend.
''Once in Jacksonville,'' Rivers said, ''I'm in Jacksonville.''
The Chargers visit the Jaguars on Sunday, and even if Rivers' wife, Tiffany, gives birth to their seventh child, the QB isn't bailing.
Rivers will be focusing on getting the Chargers (3-3) above .500 for the first time this season. Even with the Chargers gaining momentum with an upset victory against Indianapolis on Monday night, Rivers doesn't want to hear that the Jaguars are winless.
''I don't believe in momentum, unless we're starting a game an hour after the game we just played,'' Rivers said.
''It's a new week. They all stand alone. We've just got to go play well again. Approach this game with the same mind-set that we had. The same feeling that we had of backs against the wall and all that we knew as far as where we were in the season last week at 2-3. We're only one week removed from that.''
But Rivers seems light years from the last two seasons, when he threw a combined 35 interceptions. This year he's run rookie coach Mike McCoy's no-huddle offense with precision, throwing 14 touchdowns with five picks.
Three times this year Rivers has reached 400 passing yards in a game, the same number of times he hit that mark in his first nine seasons.
Much of Rivers' success comes from reaching the line of scrimmage quickly, surveying the defensive alignments and putting the wheels in motion for a positive play.
For the most part, Rivers' thought process has been keen. There's been a hiccup or two, but McCoy said that's to be expected.
''That's the quarterback's job,'' McCoy said. ''Win, lose, it doesn't matter, Phil is going to make more good decisions than bad. You live with the quarterback's decision.
''The reason a play might not work may be more than just the quarterback. Was the route run at the wrong depth? Was the protection poor? There are a number of things that go into it, but it always comes back to the quarterback, win or lose. He has the freedom to check plays whenever he wants. We have given him that freedom. He's a great quarterback and he knows this system as well as anyone.''
Those familiar with Rivers know he chaffed during the offseason, when the chatter was he needed to be ''fixed.'' While Rivers' game had slipped recently, part of his downfall could be traced to a talent-drain on the team's roster and uncertainty regarding the offensive line.
That led to coach Norv Turner being fired and McCoy, formerly the Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator, being brought in.
Rivers bought in to McCoy's system, which puts much of the offensive onus on the shoulders of Rivers, the son of a coach.
''He has that freedom if he thinks he can get us a better play because he sees something,'' McCoy said. ''When you have a good quarterback that is smart the way he is and knows the system inside and out, we're living with his decisions and I'll take him 100 percent of the time.''
The Chargers are ranked in the NFL's top five in a slew of offensive categories, including passing yards per game and per play, first downs and third-down efficiency. Rivers' quarterback rating of 108.7 trails only Denver's Peyton Manning (128.8), and he has completed 72 percent of his passes for 1,847 yards.
But Rivers isn't easing his foot off the pedal, regardless of facing the bottom-dwelling Jaguars (0-6).
''We've got a lot of improving to do all the way across the board,'' Rivers said. ''I think every guy in each phase would tell you the same thing.''
So Rivers is taking the approach that winning on Sunday is no slam dunk.
''Not a whole lot's changed,'' he stressed. ''At 3-3 it's not like all of a sudden we're sitting at 6-3. I mean, we're 3-3 and we've got a long way to go. And every one is important, but when you're at the point we are in the season and you've got a bye week coming up next week, we've got to find a way to get this game won.''
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