Crutch will help Rivers

Philip Rivers may not know everyone on the San Diego Chargers as he struggled to name any linemen and barely named Tim Dwight when he first came aboard, but there is one player he will need no introduction to.

LaDainian Tomlinson.

"That is going to be awesome," Philip Rivers said of having Tomlinson in the backfield.

Tomlinson is the best crutch any young quarterback could ask for. Given the Marty Ball style of offense that is in San Diego, Rivers just needs to lean on the crutch and make sure he does not fall down the stairs by throwing interceptions.

When in doubt, dump the ball off to Tomlinson and watch him make people miss in the flat. But this year, the quarterback will have to find a way to spread the ball around a little more.

"To have him back there and I have seen a lot of plays that he has made and I know how awesome he is," Rivers said. "When you have a guy like that to hand the ball off to it means something. And not only that but he is great at catching the ball out of the backfield. I am thrilled to have the chance to be around a guy like that."

With rookie camp starting on Friday, Rivers will be on the spot to learn quickly. The Chargers, while veiled in their comments of a battle at the quarterback position, want Rivers to start.

And they have no plans to mess with his throwing motion.

"There is some question on the part of some people with respect to his throwing mechanics," Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "If you throw for a 70-percent completion percentage the mechanics are probably OK. He's a bright, bright young man."

Rivers has better vision than both Drew Brees and Doug Flutie and it is attributed to his height and ability to read defenses. Game tapes show that Rivers has the ability to throw a deep ball without an awkward motion. So what is it that makes him do it?

"Balls don't get batted down and I am accurate," Rivers said in defense of his throwing motion.

Rivers sees his motion as a tool, rather than a hindrance. His motion is designed to get the ball out of his hand quickly to hit the open receiver. He knows that in the NFL receivers can be open one minute and covered the next. When he tosses the rock, he has that in mind. Threading the needle is the common term. Rivers just does it a little more often than the next guy.

Thus there are comparisons to Bernie Kosar, the last quarterback that a Marty Schottenheimer coached team threw for enough yards to be considered a top five quarterback.

Are they truly similar?

"In a number of ways, yes," Schottenheimer says of the comparison. "Bernie was one of the most instinctive and intelligent quarterbacks I was ever around. (Rivers) is a better athlete than Bernie. He has a quicker release than Bernie, and, of course, he understands the game. One of the things that set Bernie apart was that he could take what you were trying to get done and without a whole lot of effort, he could transfer it into execution. In that regard I think they are very similar."

Kosar, however, never had a back the caliber of Tomlinson.

If anything, the Baltimore Ravens have shown that you can get by on running and a stingy defense. The defense has slowly been addressed and the team changed to a 3-4. If they are able to come together quickly, the turnaround in San Diego could come faster than expected.

And count Rivers among those who want to be part of it.

Unknowingly taking a shot at the franchise, you can't help but like his attitude.

"There are a lot of things that can be accomplished with the Chargers," Rivers said. "You can be in a place that did a lot of great things and can be part of a team that did it again. A place like this, there are so many thing you can accomplish, climbing back to the top."

With Rivers at the helm, the feeling is it won't be a one-year appearance at the top, but rather the building of something special.

"I love to win, I love being part of a team and more importantly I want to be successful," Rivers added. "I will do all I can to help San Diego win."

Denis Savage can be reached at

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