Here’s what we learned from the Chargers’ 24-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday:
PHILIP RIVERS DOES WANT TO PLAY BEYOND THIS SEASON: There is still no clarity regarding his status with the Chargers for 2020. Rivers is about to become an unrestricted free agent, and the team has yet to offer any public reassurances that the plan is to extend his contract. Privately, the belief remains that the Chargers do want Rivers back, at least for one more season. He made it clear that he believes he can continue for a 17th year. “Yes, I do,” Rivers said when asked if he possesses the necessary desire. “I want to play football.” Later, he added: “I know I can still do it. I know I can do it at a high enough level for us to win. I have not done it well enough this year. I do still love to play and love to lead these guys. I still believe in this team.” The season unraveled on Rivers and the Chargers largely because of his turnovers. He has thrown 18 interceptions and lost three fumbles. As his performance has declined, Rivers has been the subject of growing debate regarding the possible erosion of his skills. “None of that’s true,” he insisted. “I’ve made some throws this year that have been as good as I’ve made in any year in my career. So, physically and what I’m able to do is just what I was able to do last year when we were rolling.”
RIVERS WAS NEVER CLOSE TO COMING OUT OF THE GAME, DESPITE A SORE THUMB: On a first-quarter reverse, the quarterback injured his thumb when he hit it on something while attempting to make a block. Rivers was seen flexing his right hand for much of the second quarter. He missed the final play of the first half, backup Tyrod Taylor replacing him to take a knee and run out the clock. Despite looking like he might be in danger of having to be lifted at halftime, Rivers said the move never was a consideration. “I don’t know what it hit — helmet, jersey or something,” Rivers said. “But we’ll be all right. It was [in] the first quarter, but we threw pretty good after that.” Rivers hasn’t missed a start since taking over in 2006. He finished the game 27 of 39 for 279 yards.
THE CHARGERS CAN, INDEED, GET TO THE QUARTERBACK: They entered Sunday tied for 27th in the NFL with only 27 sacks. But they did manage to get to Derek Carr three times. Melvin Ingram had one sack on his own and split another with rookie defensive tackle Jerry Tillery. Joey Bosa had the other sack. Ingram reached 49 for his career and Bosa 40. “I don’t even know,” Ingram said when asked about approaching 50. “I’m just playing football, to be honest. I’m just trying to win. If we had 14 wins this year, then I’ll tell you how I’m feeling.” Bosa called the season “frustrating” but insisted he remains encouraged. “I don’t think losing now means we’re going to be stuck in this hole forever,” he said. “I think we’ve got talent. I think with a couple new pieces here and there…I have confidence in my guys. I have confidence in my coaches to bring in guys if they don’t see guys doing enough. My answer is, I’m confident in my team.”
HUNTER HENRY IS STILL IMPROVING: Among all the bad that happened, the Chargers tight end finished with five receptions for 45 yards to set single-season career highs in both categories. In his fourth year, Henry now had 50 catches for 610 yards. He reached those marks despite missing four games because of a knee fracture. “There’s a lot more for me, I think,” Henry said. “Obviously, I didn’t play the full season…. It’s always good to improve on what I’ve done in the past. But I think I’m better than what I’ve showed, and I’m looking forward to this offseason. Really trying to continue to improve my game, but it’s always good to get better.” Henry is in line to become one of the Chargers’ unrestricted free agents after the season.