Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers likes to think of himself as “old school.”
He has had to be convinced to spend more time stretching. He cannot be talked out of playing come Sunday. He gains yards with his arm, not his feet.
But some “new school” statistics could be the backbone to an argument that would’ve been unthinkable even as recent as a month ago — that Rivers could be the NFL’s most valuable player.
According to Football Outsiders, Rivers is the NFL’s top quarterback when using the DYAR metric, which measures Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement. In simple terms, it measures how effective Rivers is, in a cumulative sense, when you take into account factors such as what down it is and the distance needed for a first down.
Rivers is second in DVOA, a stat that measures the same value, but on a per-play basis, trailing only New England’s Tom Brady.
While Rivers is likely on the outside of the MVP race, the injury to Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz paired with the Chargers’ late-season run could open the door for the Chargers veteran quarterback to be considered for an award he has never won.
“I think individual recognition, things come when people have success. If that comes with us having a lot of success, certainly, you’d be grateful,” Rivers said. “We’ve got a good thing going. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
Rivers has passed for 3,611 yards and 23 touchdowns this season, completing 62.8% of his passes. The traditional numbers are good, but probably not good enough to earn MVP considerations.
When you look at Rivers since the Chargers started winning, however, it’s easier to see why, as coach Anthony Lynn said, the veteran has “played as good as any QB in the NFL.”
During the Chargers’ last four games, all victories, he has thrown for 1,348 yards and eight touchdowns with no interceptions while completing nearly 70% of his passes.
“This is the best I’ve seen him play. He’s on,” running back Melvin Gordon said. “You know, you want carries and things like that, but you can’t complain, baby. Can’t complain, the way he’s throwing that thing right now, I’m cheering more than anybody else.”
Since throwing three interceptions in the Chargers’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3, Rivers has had only three passes intercepted in 350-plus attempts.
“He’s on fire right now,” Kansas City coach Andy Reid said this week.
Gordon said Rivers deserves to be in the conversation for MVP, especially if they keep winning. And while it’s not a focus of the quarterback, the consideration — and possibly a win — would be a special moment in a great career.
“I think it’d mean the world to him. At the end of the day, it’s a great compliment to say you’re the MVP,” Gordon said. “You don’t [get it when you’re losing]. It’d be awesome right now if Philip was able to get that. Later on down the line, I think he’d appreciate it a little more. I think right now, he would just look at it as it what it is. He’s super focused. But, I think at the end of the day when it’s all said and done and he’s looking back at everything he’s accomplished, and he sees that … man.”