But Philip Rivers has only attempted eight passes in live action during his brief professional career. He also missed all of last year's training camp due to a contract dispute, and he is still catching up because of it. His best chance to fine tune his game is in the preseason, and yet the Chargers are limiting his chances to do even that.
In Rivers' two preseason appearances, the Chargers have been ultra conservative. They have relied heavily on the run and on short, safe passes to keep the offense going when he is at the helm. To date, he's managed a measly 5.28 yards per attempt, despite hitting on an incredible 76 percent on his passes.
Given the meaningless nature of the preseason, this is the ideal time to let Rivers loose. He should be throwing the ball downfield, working in three-receiver sets, and running an offense that attacks defenses and dictates to them the tempo of the game. If Rivers is shackled now, then his play will reflect that when he is called upon during the regular season.
Also, it is important for quarterbacks, especially young ones, to find their self-confidence. The preseason forum is the perfect place for Rivers to develop his swagger, especially since the Chargers' have stellar depth across the offensive line, and at receiver as well. When the second units are in, the Chargers should always have the edge in talent, and their play needs to reflect that.
With only two preseason games remaining, the Chargers should make the continued development of Philip Rivers one of their highest priorities. Against the Packers the team was too worried about game management, and against the Rams they were just trying to keep from running up the score. While those things may matter during the regular season, the preseason is all about talent development and health maintenance.
There is also another added benefit to showcasing all of Rivers immense talents. If Brees does stay healthy and productive all year long (which is the only scenario in which Rivers will not see the field for the Chargers this season), then the team may be looking to move Rivers in the offseason. Interested trade partners will want to see as much film on Rivers as possible, and would be especially interested in what he can do against live, NFL defenses.
On Friday, the Chargers will take on the Vikings, a team that has historically struggled in pass defense. Rivers and company are good enough to tear the Vikings second-string defense apart, and should be allowed to do just that.
"It's going to be exciting," Rivers said of getting some extended time under center. "You always get a little – the emotions and everything are a little bit cranked up. That is how it always is on game days."
Let the kid play, if for no other reason than to make sure he can.
"He needs to play," head coach Marty Schottenheimer agreed. "That is the only thing not on his resume."