Rivers’ feats don’t involve his feet
When naming elite quarterbacks, Philip Rivers may or may not make the grade.
When discussing running quarterbacks, the San Diego veteran never has been in the conversation.
Twelve years into his career, Rivers still can navigate defenses. He uses his arm, not his legs, to guide him.
For the Packers, Sunday’s meeting with the Chargers at Lambeau Field is the first of two against quarterbacks who rarely venture downfield. Rivers, like Peyton Manning to follow, does his work almost entirely from behind the line of scrimmage.
Rivers has impressive credentials. Top of the list: He never has missed a start (149 straight) since taking over for Drew Brees in 2006.
The durable quarterback may not be as prolific as his former teammate. He certainly doesn’t have as many wins as do Manning and Tom Brady.
But don’t underestimate him. After five games, he was leading the league in passing yards (1,613) and wasn’t far off the pace with 10 touchdown tosses.
Rivers spent two seasons backing up Brees. He came into his own after Brees was traded to the Saints. In the last nine-plus seasons, Rivers has thrown for 38,121 yards. Only Brees (45,301) has more.
Rivers has won 90 regular-season games as a starter. Since 2006, only Brady (106) and Manning (104) have won more.
Rivers ranks ninth in NFL history in average gain per pass attempt (7.86) and sixth in completion percentage (64.9). He is the sixth highest rated passer (96.0) of all time.
How Rivers measures up in the eyes of the pundits is often tied to the fortunes of the Chargers. In recent years, San Diego hasn’t been winning as often as it did when he was starting out.
The Chargers won four consecutive AFC West division titles from 2006 through 2009. They were seeded anywhere from No. 1 (2006) to No. 4 (2008) in the playoffs.
Since, San Diego has reached the playoffs just once. They were a No. 6 seed in 2013.
Win or lose, Rivers has posted big numbers. He led the NFL in average gain per attempt three years running (2008-2010). He finished with the most passing yards (4,710) in 2010.
Rivers has completed 20 or more passes in each of his last 12 regular-season games, a personal best. He’s completing 71.4 percent of his passes through five games.
Rivers has compiled a passer rating of 120 or more 38 times (minimum 15 attempts) since 2006 — the most by anyone over that span — and San Diego is 35-3 in those games.
Rivers twice has faced the Packers. He compiled a passer rating of 116.2 in a 31-24 loss at Lambeau Field in 2007 and a mark of 85.9 in a 45-38 setback at Qualcomm Stadium in 2011.
His rushing line in both games: one carry for minus-1 yard.
Rivers never has been the Chargers’ leading rusher in a game (unlike Aaron Rodgers, who led the Packers in rushing last Sunday). He has scored only three rushing touchdowns in his career.
Rivers has gained 20 or more yards rushing in a game only twice in his career. The only quarterback of note with fewer since 2006 is Manning (1).
Rivers has gained 514 yards rushing on 290 carries (1.8 average). Last season was his most productive with 102 yards on 37 tries (2.8).
Throw out kneel-downs (a player has no intention of advancing the ball) and aborted plays and Rivers has carried 151 times for 640 yards (4.2). Those numbers look better but, unless such data is winnowed from the totals of other quarterbacks, there’s nothing to which they can be compared.
Regardless of how you measure his effectiveness as a runner, understand this: The only run by Rivers that should concern Packers fans is one involving a knee to the turf late in the game. One or more of those likely will mean San Diego has knocked Green Bay from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton each have gained 20 or more yards rushing 52 times in the regular season. That’s a league-best for quarterbacks since 2006.
Overall: Green Bay leads 9-1.
At Lambeau Field: Packers lead 3-1.
Packers: Aaron Rodgers (75-33 overall; 1-0 vs. San Diego).
Chargers: Philip Rivers (90-59; 0-2 vs. Green Bay).
Eric Goska is a Packers historian. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 2006, quarterbacks with the most regular-season games in which they compiled a passer rating of 120 or more points.