He’ll turn 38 in a week and a half and his turnovers over the past two games are ammunition enough for some observers to conclude he’s getting too old and that this is the beginning of his end.
Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers, in his 16th season and a player who, including the playoffs, has started 230 consecutive games, is ready to concede none of it.
“There’s been some other bad plays in this league by guys that are a heck of a lot younger,” Rivers said. “I’m sure they’re not losing it. They’re still capable. So, no, those reasons don’t lead me to think anything from that standpoint.”
In losses to Oakland and Kansas City, Rivers threw seven interceptions, his highest total for a two-game stretch.
Those pickoffs led to 17 points for the opposition in games the Chargers lost by nine points total.
Both defeats were sealed when Rivers was intercepted.
In the aftermath — a period made longer since the Chargers were off for Week 12 — Rivers’ future with the franchise and otherwise has been a topic of national debate.
Most of the opinions expressed have not been kind to him.
“I don’t necessarily try to seek it out,” Rivers said of hearing the criticism. “But I’m also not naive to it or ignore it completely. I understand it. I know that comes with it. It’s not one of those things where I’m looking for extra motivation or ‘I’ll show them’ or ‘I can’t believe they think that.’ I get it, you know. If I was in that locker room, I’d be upset with me too.”
What the Chargers and Rivers do beyond 2019 also is a discussion point since he remains unsigned after this season.
General manager Tom Telesco has not wavered publicly on his previously stated stance that Rivers will remain the team’s quarterback.
Rivers also has continued to indicate that his goal is to play at least through next season, when the Chargers move into the new SoFi Stadium.
Entering 2019, he had made the Pro Bowl in three consecutive seasons and was coming off back-to-back seasons in which he threw only 10 and 12 interceptions, respectively.
But, given the recent spike in turnovers and the Chargers’ disappointing 4-7 showing, Rivers suddenly finds himself fielding questions about his future with the only franchise for which he has played.
“I’ve also made some plays that helped us be in these games too,” he said. “So it goes both ways. I’m not trying to sell that I’ve played well. I have not played well. The turnovers are unacceptable.
“But there’s also no lost confidence, no lost belief in myself. ‘Can I do this?’ All that. I don’t even entertain. … I’m excited to go to Denver [where the Chargers play Sunday] … I don’t take for granted any of these. … At this point in your career, you never know when it’s going to be the last time you go.”
Since the loss to the Chiefs, coach Anthony Lynn has repeatedly said the Chargers’ woes can’t be pinned to one player. He said Rivers knows the turnovers must stop.
Lynn also explained that, sitting three games below .500 in a season that began with Super Bowl aspirations, no one with the Chargers should feel comfortable.
“Everybody’s being evaluated,” he said. “Hell, if we don’t win enough games, I’m going to be … you know, you’ll be looking at another head coach here soon.”