The San Diego Chargers appeared to be on the brink of an epic disaster. Considered by many, once again, to be a Super Bowl contender, the Chargers went through a six-game losing streak and fell to 4-7 through their first 11 games. Quarterback Philip Rivers was finding all kinds of ways to lose games and the Chargers were dead in the playoff race. Or were they? They’ve won three games in a row since then to get back to .500 and are back in the race for the NFC West. Rivers has been playing masterfully during that stretch and somehow coach Norv Turner has resurrected the season. The Chargers have a ways to go to make the playoffs, but would be dangerous if they got there. Even if they don’t, Rivers says the team’s turnaround is enough to keep Turner’s job. Philip Rivers joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego with Darren Smith to discuss the team’s playoff chances, how this run could compare to 2008, why Turner should be kept no matter what, how he has gotten back in a groove and if he’s simply feeling it right now.
What do you think are your chances of making the playoffs?
“In, Charlie and Billy and I, it was a lot easier when it was just a matter of us and Denver only. … But at one point it was under a five-percent chance in that scenario and we ended up making it. I do know the odds are way greater. Of all the scenarios, we’ve got to win. We know that. But there’s a lot of outs this year. … I think we’ve kind of, as a group, said, ‘Let’s do our part.’ … If we can find a way to get to 9-7 and it’s not enough, it still says a lot about the way we finished the year. If it is enough, we’ll be excited about getting an opportunity to go to the playoffs.”
Isn’t that a similar mentality to that run?
“Yeah, definitely. It’s that whole mentality that it’s really a misperception that if you’re out of the playoffs, you have nothing to play for. Obviously we’re not out, but had we been eliminated at 4-7, you’re still playing for a heckuva lot. … We’re not in that situation but there’s always something to play for. If we can find a way to win at Detroit this week, regardless of what happens with any other team in the league, we’ll still be alive.”
It sounds, also, like you feel that Norv Turner should continue to coach the Chargers no matter what?
“We expect to go win these next two and see what happens, but whatever happens, that’s the way I feel. That six-game losing streak, all the turnovers, all the injuries, all the things that were going on — those aren’t excuses — but had we been getting beat 38-10 and 28-3 and can’t get a first down, maybe it’s a little more fair. We had a chance to win every single game. … I know it’s about winning and losing, but I think Norv and his staff did an excellent job of keeping us in every game. … We’ve won 48 games the last five years. That’s a lot of football games and I think Norv’s done an excellent job.”
What’s been the most important thing for you in finding a groove over the past three games?
“Starting in Denver, we didn’t turn it over in Denver and I always go into a game saying, ‘Let’s try not to turn it over.’ But I almost made too much of an effort, I felt like, in that Denver game, to not turn it over. … I missed some throws I should’ve made because I was trying not to turn it over. The last three weeks, I wanted to be aggressively patient, if that makes any sense, and just go. I think it’s just a matter of, I’ve been more accurate the last three weeks and I’ve just thrown the ball better.”
You’ve got to be feeling it right now. These three games are about as good as you’ve played, right?
“It’s a matter of just being consistent. I think that’s the other thing. I always say, at this position, leadership is the number one quality, and finding a way to help your team win games. … Then, I think, it’s being at a consistent level. At this position, if you’re really volatile and up and down — and that’s what I was in that six-game losing stretch … [it doesn’t work]. That’s what Alex Smith has done this year, he’s been consistent. … If you can be consistent, you’re going to give yourself a chance.”