For only the 2nd time this season, the Bears will face a quarterback who can and will beat you on his own. The unathletic, and punchable-faced Philip Rivers, with his 29 children, will waltz in Soldier Field to take on a team that has no idea who they are. The good news for the Bears is that neither do the Chargers. It’s gonna be a real barnburner on the lake my frients!
Not to many QB’s in the history of the league have done what Rivers has done for as long as he has done it. If you can look past the first name Philip being a top-5 worst names of all time, you’ll realize that Uncle Phil Rivers is a generational talent whose career has been overshadowed by names like Rodgers and Brady and Brees. But make no mistake, Rivers belongs in that class. Just because he’s a lunatic and generally unlikeable, doesn’t mean Rivers isn’t one of the greatest to every play the game. Take Rivers’ ALL-TIME statistical rankings for a quick spin:
• Passing Yards – 6th All Time/3rd Active
• TD Passes – 6th/3rd
• Completion % – 7th/4th
• Passer Rating – 10th/7th
• Passes Completed – 7th/4th
While Rivers isn’t the talent he once was, he is still more than capable – as he is currently ranked 4th in passing yards and 10th in TDs this season. Last week against the Titans was vintage Rivers; throwing for 329 yards and two touchdowns while completing 63% of his throws.
So…How Do The Bears Stop CRA (Constant Red Ass)?
Scheming for a Philip Rivers offense is especially difficult because he is so smart, makes accurate throws to all segments of the field, and will attack you at every yardage. Last week’s throw chart looked like a 13-year old’s face; with dots covering the entire landscape:
Stats like you see above can be considered the norm with Rivers, as shown by his 2018 passer rating chart:
Worried yet? Yeah, me too.
So now that we understand that Rivers can make basically every throw on the field, who is getting the rock?
Uber-dependable Keenan Allen is getting the most targets, at 10 a game. But with only 44 receptions on those 70 targets, you would like to see a little more productivity from this pair, especially since Allen is the best route runner in all of football.
Running Back Austin Ekeler, and not Allen, is surprisingly the guy leading the Chargers with 49 receptions. What makes this more impressive is the 49 catches were made on 53 targets. That is the most efficient catch-to-target ratio in the entire league. Ekeler also leads the team in TD catches with four. You won’t see Ekeler with a lot of rushing attempts, due to most LA’s “run” game being quick, short passes into space.
On the opposite side from Allen is WR Mike Williams, a dependable 2nd receiver who has become a big play threat for the Chargers, averaging over 15 yards per catch and 19 catches for 1st downs. Williams probably hasn’t played up to his 7th overall pick expectation at this point in his career, but he will stretch the field and has big play talent.
Rivers’ career safety blanket, future Hall of Famer, Antonio Gates, is no longer in the league, but TE Hunter Henry has found his own niche within the Rivers-led offense. Henry is coming off a 6 reception, 97-yard game and is averaging 14.3 yards per catch, which are Gates-type numbers. Henry will eventually become a top tier TE and he should thank Rivers every day because of it.
So, what does all this BS mean?
It means that the Bears secondary will be facing a quarterback who is far better than almost all the other QB’s they’ve faced this year. For a defense that is suddenly having trouble getting to the QB, Rivers, if given enough time, is a tough matchup. Uncle Phil will take some chances with the ball, but only when he is being pressured and has been knocked around early. The Bears defensive line is the key to this game as their productivity is in direct correlation to the success of the defensive backfield.
In a season where you have no idea what to expect from the Bears on a game by game basis, I think the defense gets after it this week and dominates their way too much needed W.
Bears 13 – Chargers 10