Bolts Banter: Is Rivers a Top-8 QB?

SDBoltReport.com's Michael Lombardo and Michael Kranzler continue to debate the hot topics involving the Chargers. Today's issue: Where does Philip Rivers rank compared to the game's best QBs? Lombardo explains why Rivers throws in rarefied air, while Kranzler cautions he isn't quite there.

Michael Kranzler: Rivers Must Continue to Rise
Michael Lombardo: Rivers Runs With the Top Tier
Sound Off: Thresh it out in the Message Boards


M. Kranzler
Rivers Must Continue to Rise

Don't let anyone fool you: The NFL is a quarterback's league. Right now is a great time for fans of the passing game, as there are two first-ballot Hall of Famers dominating the League right now (three, depending on how the Brett Favre saga plays out). Behind stars like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning is a second tier of very solid quarterbacks who put up big numbers for their teams every year.

Statistics-wise, Philip Rivers is not a top-eight quarterback in the NFL right now. He finished 18th in terms of passer rating last year, and while he threw 21 touchdowns (good for 12th), he also tossed 15 interceptions (which tied him for 23rd).

Rivers is a very solid quarterback who has the potential to be great. However, at this juncture in his career, there are too many players above him with better numbers.

But numbers will only get a quarterback so far. Archie Manning made the Hall of Fame playing for some miserable New Orleans Saints teams, and Rivers already can boast putting up better numbers in one category.

With a 25-7 regular season record over the last two years, Philip Rivers is a winner, plain and simple. While there are better quarterbacks around the League, Rivers does enough just about every week to put the Chargers in position to win the game. He is the unquestioned leader of this team, and that is sometimes worth more than huge touchdown numbers.

If Rivers continues to develop, he may become an elite quarterback in the next few years. But right now, he just misses out on being a top-eight quarterback until he generates the stats to qualify it.


M. Lombardo
Rivers Runs With the Top Tier

Philip Rivers is on the bubble in terms of being a top-eight quarterback, but his win-loss record gives him a nudge into the top tier. Rivers is 25-7 in his two seasons as a starter; only Tom Brady has guided his team to a better record over that two-year span.

Rivers has proven he can do the things necessary to win big games. He protects the football, throwing 44 touchdowns against 25 interceptions during his career. He's especially efficient inside the red zone, where he's thrown 27 TDs and zero picks.

Although he only has two years as a starter under his belt, Rivers has proven to be remarkably consistent. In each of his seasons at the helm, he's completed more than 60 percent of his passes for at least 3,150 yards and 20-plus touchdowns. He has a career passer rating of 86.6 and has shown the ability to get better as the games go on.

In 2006, Rivers led the NFL in fourth-quarter passer rating at 113.2. Last season, he again showed the ability to get better as the games progress. His average passer rating for his first 10 attempts of every game was 77.0, while his passer rating for all subsequent attempts was 86.1.

Despite those impressive numbers, Rivers barely cracks the top-eight. The top two are Brady and Peyton Manning, two quarterbacks in a league of their own. Two of Rivers' 2004 draft classmates, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, also rank higher because they have led their teams to Super Bowl victories.

I'd also rank NFC all-stars Matt Hasselbeck, Tony Romo and Drew Brees higher at this point in their careers, although Rivers belongs in their tier. That leaves Rivers squarely at No. 8 and in his rightful place among the top quarter of all starting QBs.

Readers Chime In

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