Top 20 Quarterbacks: #7 Philip Rivers

He is hands down the ugliest thrower in the league. Normally that’s a sign of bad mechanics. But Philip Rivers some how manages to get the ball to his receivers accurately. He’s been in the NFL for 10 years and his weird shot-put throwing style hasn’t stopped him yet.

When you watch Philip Rivers, you’re not doing so to appreciate the beauties of playing the quarterback position. In can be downright ugly at times, and that helps mask the fact that Rivers has mastered the intricacies of playing quarterback better than most.

Rivers knows where to go with the ball, first and foremost. He understands coverages and protections and throws with anticipation. He’s a cerebral quarterback who makes the right throws to beat the coverage. He can make the touch passes, the stick throws, the back shoulders etc…

Rivers stands out the most in his ability to throw with bodies around him. This is the one constant that runs through each of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, and there’s a reason for this. The pocket isn’t always pretty. Quarterbacks don’t always get to step into their throws or follow through. The best ones can operate in these conditions. Rivers’ unorthodox style actually helps him make throws from many different positions in the face of pressure.

Rivers’ understanding of coverage and blitzes allows him to anticipate and get the ball where it needs to go on time. Because he can’t run around and make plays with his legs, he relies on this aspect of his game. If a blitz is coming he recognizes it, stands in the pocket willing to take a hit, and delivers the ball. Flashing pass rushers don’t phase him. If there is a play to be made downfield, he’ll throw it and take the beating. As a result, Rivers doesn’t leave many plays out on the field.

In many ways, Rivers is in that class of quarterbacks with Tony Romo and Matt Ryan. He’s a player who hasn’t had the type of success that the media deems as quarterback defining. If Rivers was the GM or head coach, criticizing him for his team’s shortcoming would be valid. He isn’t though. So when judging him for what he does on the field, the only conclusion can be that he’s one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.

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