Chargers: Challenges ahead for Rivers, Manning

San Diego Chargers Lightening Bolt

As this week evolves and we get closer to the kick off of the 2013 National Football League season then it becomes more natural for us to focus a little on Wolfpackers in the pros.

Terrell Manning, who should’ve never left early for the NFL, was cut by the Green Bay Packers on Saturday. Stories of “what could’ve been” are what makes sports great — so, think about it this way — had Manning stayed in Raleigh for his senior year in 2012 I have no doubt that the Wolfpack would’ve won at least one more game (just the UNC game would’ve been different). Had that happened then the odds are much higher that Tom O’Brien would still be our coach and Dave Doeren would be roaming the sidelines at Wisconsin. When Manning left in 2011 I wasn’t very happy with the decision; adding this perspective makes the move a little more palatable.

The San Diego Chargers picked up Manning, thereby giving Wolfpackers more reason than just Philip Rivers to pull for the Chargers.

The Chargers sent a pretty clear message about the defensive players that made their initial 53-man roster with a flurry of roster moves on Sunday: They weren’t good enough.

The team announced all of those moves on Sunday afternoon, including the addition of linebacker Terrell Manning. Manning was waived by the Packers on Saturday and he now joins defensive tackle Drake Nevis, defensive lineman Sean Lissemore and linebacker Reggie Walker as new faces on the Chargers defense.

Manning was a fifth-round pick for the Packers last season and had three tackles in five games of mostly special teams work for Green Bay. He couldn’t win a backup spot with them this year, but the Chargers are clearly looking for players to impress them on defense so he’ll have the opportunity for one in San Diego.

Speaking of the Chargers, Philip Rivers‘ production has slipped the last couple of years. The Los Angeles Times ran this fantastic feature on PR last week.

The most meaningful pass of Philip Rivers’ life wound up in the arms of the pope.

It happened in May, when the San Diego Chargers quarterback and his extended family visited the Vatican and were in a crowd of thousands for a Wednesday papal audience. Rivers, a devout Catholic, had a prime spot in the crowd and was holding the youngest of his six children, Pete, who will turn 2 in October.

“I was about 10 yards away, and the crowd kind of opened up,” Rivers said. “Pope Francis just kind of motioned like, ‘Bring him to me.’ Pete was like, ‘No! What are you doing?!” But we passed him to the pope. It was awesome. The pope kissed him, blessed him. We got great pictures of it.”

That moment was a highlight of what has been an incredibly trying — and unexpectedly gratifying — two years for the Pro Bowl passer, who is in the most turbulent stretch of his nine-year NFL career. His team is coming off a 7-9 season, one that cost coach Norv Turner his job and kept the Chargers out of the playoffs for a third consecutive year.

Rivers, meanwhile, has gone from elite to inconsistent, committing a combined 47 turnovers in the last two seasons. Shoddy pass protection and a dwindling cast of capable receivers are partly to blame, but Rivers has absorbed the bulk of the criticism, and accepts that.

“Last year was the first losing season I’ve ever been a part of,” said Rivers, 31, sitting outside a coffee shop near team headquarters. “You feel like you let down so many people. You realize that your play affects so many people’s lives. You’ve got to be careful trying to think about that often because that’s too much. But it’s the truth. It’s a tough business.”

Real life can be tougher. Rivers and his wife, Tiffany, got that reminder after the season when their 5-year-old son, Gunner, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The couple has four girls, two boys, and another child due in October.

“He’s football all the time, nonstop energy all the time,” Rivers said of Gunner. “And late in the football season last year he didn’t want to play as much, he started to lose weight. He had to pee all the time. We took him in, and his blood sugar was 700 [the acceptable range is closer to 80 to 100, Rivers said]. He’s dying there right in front of you. It’s terrible.”

Gunner was admitted into the hospital, and his situation was stabilized. Meanwhile, a family so fortunate in so many ways struggled to catch its breath.

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11 Responses to Chargers: Challenges ahead for Rivers, Manning

  1. Texpack 09/03/2013 at 8:26 AM #

    The game against the Chargers to open the season concerns me greatly. The Texans were 4-5 point favorites the last time I heard a spread. I find that absurd for a midnight game on the road. The other thing that the oddsmakers don’t know is that I may not be able to consume my traditional pre-game meal since I’m being forced to travel for work. The Texans are a .500 team over the past two seasons when I don’t get my pre-game meal.

    If the Chargers don’t win 10 games, they may well move on from Rivers. If they do he’ll have to get lucky to find a decent spot to finish his career.

  2. old13 09/03/2013 at 9:27 AM #

    PR’s main problems at San Diego are named Smith and Turner; the former for hiring the latter and NOT hiring a decent supporting cast for PR; the later for being a PROVEN lousy coach before he even arrived in SD due to the former! Are their replacements any better! Time will tell. But how much more time does PR have!

  3. ryebread 09/03/2013 at 11:46 AM #

    old13: I agree with you regarding Rivers. I fear that my second favorite NFL player is going to go down in history much like my favorite (Marino). Both will put up some fantastic, HOF type numbers, be great teammates, have made many sacrifices and stayed loyal to their organizations only to have their careers wasted by incompetence in the front office.

    More importantly, the stories of Rivers’ kids are very touching. It’s hard not to like the guy.

  4. eas 09/03/2013 at 12:25 PM #

    Rivers and Wilson have brought a good bit of positive light on the character of our program. I sure miss watching them both in Raleigh. I hope PR finds his groove again soon before we are watching him beside Herb on ESPN. Either way an awesome player and person who proved so many people wrong from the start!

  5. MISTA WOLF 09/03/2013 at 12:58 PM #

    I find it very humble of Philip to take the blame for the issues the Chargers have had over the last 2 years. Clearly the issues are not entirely his fault. How in the world you let go of offensive weapons like Michael Turner, LT, Darren Sproles and Vincent Jackson blows my mind.

  6. Prowling Woofie 09/03/2013 at 1:14 PM #

    Smith will keep Rivers out of the HOF.

  7. PackerInRussia 09/03/2013 at 1:41 PM #

    Philip will have to stop speaking in the second person before he gets a spot on TV. Hopefully he won’t have to worry about that for a while, though.

  8. Wulfpack 09/03/2013 at 6:16 PM #

    I and many others don’t expect much from the Chargers this year. Denver should win that division very easily, and KC upgraded with Reid. It will have to be a wild card and I don’t see it. Unfortunately, Rivers got stuck with a bad franchise. State fans would do well to transition to watching Seattle on Sundays. I think we’ve seen the best of Rivers and the Chargers.

  9. Pack84 09/03/2013 at 6:27 PM #

    PR hasn’t played as well the past couple of years as he did earlier in his career. OK – I said it. BUT – he’s had one of the worst O-lines in the NFL the last couple of years. And he’s been throwing (for the most part except for Gates) to a bunch of bums that no one’s ever heard of and wouldn’t even be on the rosters of most NFL teams.

  10. Wulfpack 09/03/2013 at 7:47 PM #

    Peyton Manning and Tom Brady don’t have stellar receiving corps either. I know, I know, the Chargers stink. They really stink and it starts at the top.

  11. Tau837 09/05/2013 at 1:19 PM #

    ^I’m pretty sure neither Brady nor Manning have ever played behind an OL as bad as the Chargers’ OL last season.

    And to suggest that Peyton Manning (Thomas, Decker, Welker) and Brady (Gronkowski, Amendola, Vereen) don’t have great receiving options is off base. The offensive skill position players around both of them are better than those around Rivers right now, and that has been true throughout at least the past few seasons, as the Chargers went through a huge talent drain. Sure, Brady went through some seasons without talented receiving options… and he generally did not have great passing numbers in those seasons.

    It is certainly possible for QBs to excel with poor receiving options. Rivers himself did it in 2010, when Gates and the top 5 WRs combined to miss 43 games and the Chargers were starting guys signed off the street late in the season.

    But it is exceedingly rare for a QB to succeed in the NFL behind a really bad OL, especially when that QB is not mobile and the passing offense is a vertical offense with a lot of deep routes that require the QB to hold the ball longer before throwing. That is the situation Rivers has been in for the past couple of seasons.

    The OL and the offensive position players around Rivers should be improved this year (though still with plenty of room for more needed improvement), and the new coaching staff has installed an offense that will get the ball out quicker. I expect Rivers to have a much better season than last year.

    As for this quote: “If the Chargers don’t win 10 games, they may well move on from Rivers. If they do he’ll have to get lucky to find a decent spot to finish his career.”

    That is as off base as it gets. First off, they have virtually no shot at winning 10 games. But I seriously doubt the Chargers will move on from Rivers. He is the face of the franchise, and I expect he will retire as a Charger, many years from now.

    But even if they do move on, he would be an upgrade for many teams and would be signed quickly to start elsewhere.

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