Colts pass rusher Justin Houston’s quote about Philip Rivers proves just how difficult it is to catch him by surprise.
The Indianapolis Colts ultimately fell victim to a loaded AFC, as all they had to show for their 11-5 record, which was tied for the sixth-best mark in the entire league, was a wild card berth and a road date against the hottest team in football (the Buffalo Bills) in the first round of the playoffs.
While Buffalo isn’t a great matchup on paper, their strengths don’t exactly line up with Indy’s short list of weaknesses, and vice versa. Speaking of which, we would all agree that a surefire formula for defeating the Colts would be to bombard the backfield and force Philip Rivers to expedite his decision-making, right?
As apparent as that is, however, it isn’t nearly as easy as you might think. After all, the 38-year-old quarterback is an expert when it comes to calling out defensive coverages and identifying a blitz at the line of scrimmage. In his latest presser, Colts defensive end Justin Houston lauded Rivers’ ability to do just that, and his quote proves how difficult it is for defenses to catch him by surprise.
Let’s call it like it is: a quarterback as immobile as Rivers would have no chance at succeeding in today’s game, which requires a signal caller to be able to navigate around pressure with his legs, if he wasn’t a pre-snap savant.
We don’t mean to slander the eight-time Pro Bowler, but we’ve all seen how reckless he can be in a collapsing pocket. Either he coils up and accepts the fact that he’s going to be sacked seconds before it happens, or he throws a jump ball downfield that has a great chance at being picked off.
If stopping him were that simple, opponents would blitz him all game and not give him a chance to go through his progressions. However, his ability to read body language and countless hours spent in the film room studying signals and audibles have him poised to identify a blitz seemingly as soon as the defense calls it out.
As a result, Rivers has enjoyed a remarkable debut season with the Colts, finishing eighth in the NFL in completion percentage (68.1%), 10th in both passing yards (4,169) and yards per attempt (7.7), as well as 13th in passer rating (97.0) and first downs (200).
Moral of the story? You were wrong to sleep on Rivers and assume his declining athleticism, which was never anything to write home about to begin with, would prove to be his downfall. He’s still one of the best quarterbacks in the league when it comes to reading a defense and is a huge reason why the Colts qualified for the playoffs for just the third time since 2014.