Philip Rivers and the Chargers Exist in a Living Hell

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September 19, 2017
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September 19, 2017

Philip Rivers and the Chargers Exist in a Living Hell

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is going through a historical stretch of football that we need to embrace. The AFC West Gods put a magic spell on Tim Tebow for his “Tebow Time” stretch, and we see the inverse of the Tebow hex in San Diego/Los Angeles.

Since 1994, no quarterback has thrown more passes than Rivers with two minutes left to go and during a one- to a seven-point (single-score) deficit. In fact, only 14 quarterbacks have even thrown half as many passes as Rivers in that scenario over those 23+ seasons, despite the fact that Rivers has only been a starter since 2006.

PlayerATTYDTDINTSKYDANY/AVALUE
Philip Rivers218131071114-873.74-35.43
Tom Brady16610151264-275.64296
Brett Favre16611667119-574.3172.53
Joe Flacco160901484-233.65-40.63
Peyton Manning1479466125-453.16-110.91
Matthew Stafford146967955-355.87298.99
Matt Ryan13786467004.88135.51
Ben Roethlisberger1339979412-616.46371.35
Jon Kitna1316786112-172.15-231.92
Eli Manning128920965-345.98278.08
Drew Brees127746975-294.4167.98
Drew Bledsoe1256406611-743.06-113.6
Tony Romo122925632-107.26417.13
Carson Palmer1168704613-1114.4166.66
Jay Cutler109748777-574.4564.28
Rich Gannon107591453-113.956.65
Kerry Collins106596645-314.5572.75
Chad Pennington103518263-302.43-154.78
Marc Bulger100646454-254.5871.01
Joey Harrington97509131-2410.38
Donovan McNabb94546725-235.79187.48
Mark Brunell947033611-394.3245.12
Brad Johnson94569347-414.0414.69
Trent Green93583468-493.41-49.31
Ryan Fitzpatrick92519494-241.77-203.83
Aaron Brooks88636773-184.8788.64
Jeff Garcia86431363-142.33-139.58
Cam Newton856086010-856.77273.06
Aaron Rodgers85589543-175.59149.32
Jake Plummer85633332-186.21201.21
Byron Leftwich81400244-202.82-91
Steve McNair81457323-174.8882.89
Matt Hasselbeck78500585-332.49-116.21
Brian Griese77615424-367.02253.58
Ryan Tannehill754274410-872.82-91
Doug Flutie75350222-213.62-20.85
Matt Cassel75598344-255.73145.37
Vinny Testaverde72370421-44.8871.73
Sam Bradford68312235-372.47-104.27
Matt Schaub68496244-464.3129.62
Jason Campbell67370042-92.62-87.69
Andrew Luck66430703-188283.31
Alex Smith66283253-141.22-184.69
Trent Dilfer66345262-91.56-158.8
Russell Wilson65458743-165.91137.2
Daunte Culpepper65424265-222.46-100.59
Kurt Warner64393047-492.31-112.48
Michael Vick62388435-234.6349.09
Kirk Cousins62372442-1646.78
Andy Dalton61401125-294.5844.99
Jake Delhomme61441422-136.63172.67
David Garrard58259239-611.54-157.91
Josh Freeman5538123005.271.82
Josh McCown54372239-563.51-24.33
Kyle Orton54424547-305.1576.46
Chad Henne53259151-80.85-164.28
Nick Foles5325121004.6439.61
Derek Anderson52317103-265.6596.82
Mark Sanchez49269235-332.61-69.28
Jim Miller49266222-1245.4
Gus Frerotte47275227-603.06-45.28
Rex Grossman46233343-171.96-94.81
Brian Hoyer44226221-23.87-1.24
Tony Banks44262103-125.7486.98
Elvis Grbac43247121-93.82-3.34
Kelly Holcomb41203162-15-1.44-229.45
Derek Carr40275622-216.76120.45
Charlie Batch39310232-10545.34
Shaun Hill39292221-75.8879.24
Robert Griffin39244103-265.6774.45
Seneca Wallace38186016-392.32-69.34
Bruce Gradkowski3725532006.0880.92
Tim Couch37325537-435.6175.66
Kyle Boller36206031-91.68-82.08
Steve Beuerlein36179034-230.53-134.76
Blake Bortles36153043-19-1.18-197.87
Damon Huard35201212-124.9739.92
Blaine Gabbert34290202-208.61169.81
Colt McCoy3419021005.4452.6
David Carr34151126-371.1-111.76
Dan Marino34251102-87.31122.81
Colin Kaepernick32198113-94.6927.71
Marcus Mariota32221122-94.189.6
Kevin Kolb31161133-220.71-108.4
Chris Chandler30102042-13-2.84-215.61
J.P. Losman30110142-15-2.03-189.61
Patrick Ramsey29153033-22-0.13-128.61
Craig Whelihan29149211-104.4717.18
Jay Fiedler28151041-3-1.1-144.93
Tarvaris Jackson2891023-13-0.39-132.72
Troy Aikman28148141-8-0.69-132.93
Kellen Clemens2812101002.71-33.04
Vince Young27147202-66.2468.07
Mike Glennon27123111-93.18-20.04
Case Keenum27114031-6-0.96-136.04
Ryan Leaf27121033-17-1.03-147.82
Neil O'Donnell26161202-206.4671.96
Geno Smith26142031-40.11-102.14
Sage Rosenfels26208224-254.4316.18
Jeff Blake25138122-142-51.14
Jeff George25119011-102.46-37.25
Teddy Bridgewater24191104-236.7178.96
Shaun King24121002-164.043.75
Carson Wentz24115012-172.04-48.25
Quincy Carter2412412002.25-39.46
Brandon Weeden2312721005.332.44
Jim Harbaugh23124021-51.21-64.46
Tim Tebow2211301003.09-17.67
Danny Kanell2257032-18-4-189.46
Christian Ponder22153102-156.5864.54
Matt Flynn22148102-116.5463.54
Dan Orlovsky22126101-8648.44
Shane Matthews22180201-59.35125.44
Drew Stanton219102000.05-80.78
Chris Redman21641200-0.29-87.78
Tyler Thigpen2064122-6-0.55-97.67
Tyrod Taylor20139114-263.67-5.46
EJ Manuel2012211004.8519.12
Warren Moon1995102-174.6716.22
John Skelton19120101-56.7557.12
Matt Leinart1910402000.74-59.99
Trent Edwards18123002-105.6535.12
Matt Barkley1810400005.7833.91
Kordell Stewart186101000.89-54.09
Chris Weinke18164112-86.5553.12
Jameis Winston1895111-23.58-5.99
Joe Webb1892011-101.95-36.99
Randall Cunningham1615312005.1920.69
Eric Zeier16620200-1.75-90.31
Rob Johnson16154101-99.7198.8
JaMarcus Russell16103111-54.296.8
Jake Locker16167111-38.1872.8
Brooks Bollinger158000005.3321.59
Chris Simms1578123-17-0.5-79.09
Austin Davis1514812005.219.59
Jamie Martin15480200-2.8-100.41
Mike McMahon155600003.73-2.41
Brock Osweiler15111202-148.0670.8
Charlie Whitehurst1368002-133.67-3.41
Danny Wuerffel1385101-7743.48
Luke McCown13141111-137.3648.48
Jimmy Clausen1297011-43.69-2.62
Dak Prescott124500003.75-1.73
Cleo Lemon124100003.42-5.73
Chad Hutchinson1234001-111.77-27.62
Jonathan Quinn1150023-21-4.36-115.52
Tommy Maddox1170101-86.8335.27
Glenn Foley116000005.4517.16
A.J. Feeley1157222-20.38-45.62
Todd Bouman1129001-81.75-25.73
Jason Garrett11220200-6.18-110.84
Alex Van Pelt1192101-4961.27
Charlie Frye1060011-90.55-36.84
T.J. Yates1037101-54.739.16
Marques Tuiasosopo109400009.455.06
Erik Kramer98601004.565.95
Bobby Hoying975002-9623.16
Akili Smith962101-37.940.06
Johnny Manziel94100004.565.95
Anthony Wright928001-32.5-13.94
Cade McNown927001-72-18.94
Mike Tomczak8125110012.568.85
Troy Smith84500005.6313.85
Kent Graham883101-41163.95
Jim Everett86500008.1333.85
Matt Moore8471200-2.88-54.15
Jared Goff8120200-9.75-109.15
Billy Joe Hobert84200005.2510.85
Caleb Hanie8420100-0.38-34.15
Billy Volek82710005.8815.85
Stephen McGee896200017104.85
Ryan Mallett81900002.38-12.15
Steve Bono827011-1-2.11-54.05
Ray Lucas719002-22-0.33-38.05
Boomer Esiason76000008.5732.74
Doug Pederson756100010.8648.74
John Elway741002-192.44-13.05
Ken Dorsey7330200-8.14-84.26
Tyler Palko7220100-3.29-50.26
Rodney Peete714011-9-5-71.15
Brady Quinn7900001.29-18.26
Steve Stenstrom654013-14-0.56-40.05
Frank Reich6400100-0.83-28.36
Tim Rattay6190200-11.83-94.36
Doug Johnson630000056.64
Billy Joe Tolliver547004-440.33-32.05
Koy Detmer51100002.2-8.47
Rick Mirer516012-14-6.14-70.26
Tom Savage5150100-6-49.47
Tim Hasselbeck51400002.8-5.47
Donald Hollas545011-10-1.67-33.36
Alex Tanney432001-143.6-1.47
Thaddeus Lewis47210002376.42
Craig Krenzel43300008.2517.42
Trevor Siemian4320000816.42
Heath Shuler42700006.7511.42
Stoney Case490100027.594.42
Andrew Walter315001-13.5-1.58
Wade Wilson368100029.3376.32
Steve Young357100025.6765.32
Dave Brown34901001.33-7.68
J.T. O'Sullivan3250100-6.67-31.68
Terrelle Pryor321011-16-10-55.58
Mike Kafka3-10000-0.33-12.68
Scott Mitchell318002-72.2-8.47
Brodie Croyle316002-120.8-15.47
Stan Humphries31900006.337.32
David Klingler3900003-2.68
John Friesz20011-6-17-62.68
Jarious Jackson2000000-7.79
Jim Kelly236003-134.63.53
John Beck21500007.57.21
Jeff Lewis210000052.21
Matt McGloin2000000-7.79
Kellen Moore280100-18.5-44.79
Chris Miller26200003154.21
Jeff Tuel270100-19-45.79
Joe Germaine25011-3-14.33-54.68
Zach Mettenberger250100-20-47.79
Bryce Petty200100-22.5-52.79
Josh Johnson28001-9-0.33-12.68
Vince Evans2700003.5-0.79
Matt Lytle100100-45-48.89
Dan McGwire1000000-3.89
Tony Graziani13200003228.11
Craig Nall12400002420.11
Bernie Kosar11900001915.11
Curtis Martin11810003834.11
Bobby Hebert11800001814.11
Bucky Richardson11600001612.11
Mark Rypien1120000128.11
Dave Krieg112002-120-11.68
Brad Smith14000040.11
Todd Collins14001-7-1.5-10.79
Ty Detmer1000000-3.89
Tom Hodson1000000-3.89
Michael Bishop1000000-3.89
Tee Martin1000000-3.89
Curtis Painter1000000-3.89
Randy Fasani100100-45-48.89
Jay Schroeder1000000-3.89
Ryan Lindley10011-9-27-61.79

Since 2015, he’s had 65 dropbacks, the most in the league, for 31 completions, the most in the league, 329 yards, the most in the league, zero touchdowns, four interceptions, the second-most in the league (look at you, Harvard Graduate Ryan Fitzpatrick), and three sacks, the fifth-most in the league.

This is notable, as we’ve mentioned before that every single team since 2006 that had a single-score (within seven points) record that was 2.5 games or more under .500 in a season has improved in record the next season. We’ve also noted that both winning games within a touchdown and losing games within a touchdown are very inconsistent. To make it short, close games are coin flips and multi-score wins are how good and bad franchises tend to separate themselves.

Here’s the issue: It doesn’t seem to be for the Chargers specifically over the last two seasons and two games. Since 2015, the Chargers have played in 22 games within a touchdown, the second-most in the league. They have lost 18 games within a touchdown, by far the most in the league. They are seven games under .500 in games within a touchdown, by far the most in the league. They are so close, yet so far.

TeamWinsLossesTiesGamesvs .500
Chargers418022-7
Cleveland Browns211013-4.5
Jacksonville Jaguars614020-4
Chicago Bears613019-3.5
Buffalo Bills510015-2.5
Philadelphia Eagles610016-2
Cincinnati Bengals59115-2
San Francisco 49ers58013-1.5
Rams810018-1
New York Jets79016-1
Baltimore Ravens1112023-0.5
New Orleans Saints1011021-0.5
Tennessee Titans89017-0.5
New York Giants11110220
Seattle Seahawks881170
Minnesota Vikings660120
Green Bay Packers760130.5
Arizona Cardinals761140.5
Dallas Cowboys980170.5
Carolina Panthers970161
Atlanta Falcons1190201
Pittsburgh Steelers960151.5
Indianapolis Colts1290211.5
Detroit Lions1290211.5
Washington Redskins1061172
Tampa Bay Buccaneers1170182
New England Patriots940132.5
Kansas City Chiefs1160172.5
Denver Broncos1260183
Houston Texans1250173.5
Miami Dolphins1250173.5
Oakland Raiders1360193.5

Teams that lose close games tend to be teams that are downgraded for unlucky stretches, rather than actual talent. No one wants to cape up for a 3-13 team because they had a bad record in close games and only got blown out in a handful of games. At the same time, maybe 1% of the football-viewing population would have guessed that the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans, at 3.5 games over .500, have been the best teams in close games since 2015, easily ahead of say the New England Patriots.

We’ll punish “unclutch” teams as bad teams, but we don’t think of Houston or Miami as world-beaters. We attribute clutch and unclutch when we want to, no matter what the tangible data says.

With that being said, the Chargers’ unlucky stretch in games has become so noticeable that it has become a conversational point. They are twice as worse as any team is good since 2015. There are only three other teams in the league who are more than 2.5 games under .500 in single-score games since 2015. 2.5 games is the distance between the Chargers and the second-place Cleveland Browns. The Browns are 1-20 in their last 21 games, with their lone win coming in a close game against the Chargers. Week to week, it’s laughable.

YearWLTGamesVs .500
20170202-1
20161809-3.5
201538011-2.5
201452071.5
20134509-0.5
20121506-2
20113508-1
20102406-1
200961072.5
20082709-2.5
200722040
200652071.5

In San Diego, the Chargers had to go to the silent count at home because the NFC’s Green Bay Packers, a team with a stadium over 2,000 miles away, packed Qualcomm Stadium. In the team’s final season in San Diego, Rivers compared their home stadium’s rooting interest to an Oakland Raiders home game.

Since then, the Chargers have moved to a 27,000-seat soccer stadium, which they were unable to fill for their opener in Los Angeles. This was an opener that allegedly featured “Let’s go Dolphins” chants. Chargers back Melvin Gordon said that the StubHub Center was half Dolphins fans, meaning that they couldn’t even find 14,000 Los Angeles Chargers fans to put in the stands for their first game of the season before a 0-2 record became a needle to pop the #FightForLA optimism balloon.

Against Denver in Week 1, Rivers completed 67% of his passes and threw for three touchdowns. With five seconds left on the clock in a 24-21 game, the Broncos “iced” Chargers rookie kicker Younghoe Koo. Los Angeles snapped the ball from the Denver 26, only to have the kick blocked.

Six days later, in their home opener, Rivers completed 79% of his passes and averaged 8.5 yards per pass attempt against the Miami Dolphins. With nine seconds left on the clock in a 19-17 game, after going 54 yards in five plays and less than a minute, Rivers’ Chargers snapped the ball from the Miami 26, only to have Koo miss the field goal wide right.

Likely due to the reaction of all of the Miami fans in the stadium, the new Chargers stadium staff shot off their victory cannon seconds after Koo dropped the team to 0-2, a nail in the coffin in a 17-week NFL season. It’s time to embrace whatever this bizzaro anti-Tebow Time, anti-Linsanity that is going on in Los Angeles. Whatever karma has slapped Dean Spanos’ team for the last two-plus years doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Just two weeks into the season, the Chargers are already two games back from third place in their four-team division, all because of two short field goals.

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