Colts Defense Figures to Have Hands Full Facing Chargers Nemesis Philip Rivers
A longtime Indianapolis Colts nemesis is set to face the franchise on Sunday, as San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers stands firmly in the way of the team’s first win of the season.
The Indianapolis Colts still banged up secondary figures to have their hands with San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers coming to town.
As a 5x Pro Bowler, the 34 year old quarterback remains one of the league’s best quarterbacks and is fresh off a 4 touchdown performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars defense just a week ago.
Not to mention, Rivers has been a serious thorn for the Colts franchise in their recent past, as the former 2004 4th overall pick of the Chargers has a 5-1 career record against Indianapolis including orchestrating two season-ending playoff losses in 2007 and 2008 respectively (not to bring up some bad memories).
As such, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano knows that stopping Rivers presents a tall task for his defense:
"“We’ve got a huge challenge as we know,” said Pagano on Wednesday. “A really good San Diego team coming in here offensively, you know for our defense, we know it’s going to be a huge challenge–putting a ton of points on the board.”“Phillip Rivers shows no signs of slowing down. Running the ball extremely well. He’s spreading the ball around.”"
When asked specifically of what sticks out regarding Rivers, Pagano didn’t hesitate to mention his pre-snap recognition of the opposing defense’s play-calling and coverage:
"Sep 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) looks at the Jacksonville Jaguars defense before the snap during the second quarter of the game at Qualcomm Stadium. San Diego won 38-14. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports“He’s very, very smart,” added Pagano on Rivers. “He does as good of a job as anybody–pre-snap of gathering information. When you go through and you look at the play clock and you do the cadence study, there’s a lot of times where there’s 1-2 seconds left on the play clock before you snap it–especially on 3rd down.”“He does a great job of getting the defense to show their hand. So you try to do as good of a job as you can to try to hide what you’re doing, but there’s nothing that he has not seen.”“…He’s a competitive guy and he spreads it around, and he knows where to go with the football, period, and 9 out of 10 times, he’s usually right on what he thinks you’re in.”"
However, despite starting his 13th NFL season, Rivers hasn’t lost much zip on his throws–having always been known to throw a great deep ball and remains plenty athletic at the position at a burly 6’5″, 228 pounds:
"Sep 11, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports“Arm strength is still there,” said Pagano, praising Rivers. “Arm talent is still there. He can make all of the throws.”“He’s a big strong guy, and he hangs in there, and a little bit like Ben (Roethlisberger), you may think you have him, but if he has the opportunity and you don’t have that right arm corralled or wrapped up in the sack, with a guy draped on him, he’ll underhand it, overhand it, behind the back, he’ll find a way to get it down to a check down or something like that and keep the play alive.”"
Of course, while no one likes to see anyone hurt, the positive news for the Colts secondary is that the Chargers will be without two of Rivers’ key weapons as go-to wide receiver Keenan Allen suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the opener and All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates has yet to practice all week battling a hamstring injury–looking unlikely to play on Sunday.
Perhaps more importantly, the Colts could be getting key members of their secondary back, as starting cornerbacks Vontae Davis (ankle) and Patrick Robinson (concussion), as well as safeties Clayton Geathers (foot) and T.J. Green (knee) have been able to practice at least on a limited basis this week.
The Colts could use the extra help–and all the help they can get for that matter, as Rivers presents a major challenge just like old times–just like always.