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ESPN: Colts' Frank Reich doesn't see drop-off in Philip Rivers' skills

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Mike Wells

ESPN Staff Writer

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Having a chance to sign quarterback Philip Rivers was a "crazy unique opportunity," and one that the Indianapolis Colts couldn't pass up, according to coach Frank Reich.

 

Reich has history with Rivers. He was his quarterbacks coach for a season and then his offensive coordinator for two seasons with the Chargers.

 

"Just being there on the inside in the three years that I was and knowing the quarterback position like I do, I was so confident physically he was the right player and he had not lost anything," Reich said Tuesday. "I didn't notice any physical gifts diminishing. From a locker room guy, this guy brings juice ... When I tell you he's elite intellectually, he's at the top. There are a group of guys in the football world I would put in that category -- not everybody gets those gifts. He has them."

 

Reich had his eye on Rivers since it became known that the quarterback would become a free agent for the first time in his 16-year NFL career earlier this winter. The coach mentioned his interest in Rivers to general manager Chris Ballard and owner Jim Irsay because he believes the quarterback has what it takes to get them back to the playoffs.

 

The coach got his new starting quarterback when the Colts signed Rivers, 38, to a one-year, $25 million deal.

 

"Went back and looked at all his film for the last two years and didn't see any physical drop-off in his play, so this was an unique opportunity," Reich said. "It wasn't so much about what Jacoby [Brissett] wasn't doing. It was about an opportunity someone we feel is an elite quarterback and can help our team."

 

Rivers' signing ended one of the worst-kept secrets around: that the Colts were going to look to upgrade the quarterback position if the opportunity presented itself. Brissett had started off strong but sputtered dramatically at the end during his first season as Andrew Luck's replacement in 2019.

 

Brissett was 30th in the NFL with a completion rate at 60.8% as the Colts finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.

Reich called Brissett, who is headed into the final year of his contract, to give him the heads-up that it appeared that they were going to sign Rivers.

 

"Honestly, he wasn't happy about it," Reich said. "But he's a great teammate and a great leader, and I'm sure he'll be good. Even though Jacoby isn't a starter, but there's nothing saying he can't play ... We're wide open. [Offensive coordinator] Nick [Sirianni] and I have been talking: What does it look like if Jacoby plays five plays a game? Seven plays a game? We're open to that."

 

Sirianni spent five seasons with the Chargers, including two as their quarterbacks coach. Colts tight ends coach Jason Michael also spent time on the Chargers' coaching staff. Reich said Rivers may know more than 85% of his system since the quarterback has run the same one since 2013.

 

Rivers, who has started 224 straight games, has thrown for 59,271 yards and 397 touchdowns to go with eight Pro Bowl invitations in his career. He became the first player in league history to have five straight games with a passer rating of 120 in a single season in 2014.

 

Rivers is joining a team in Indianapolis that's returning an offensive line that started all 16 games last season -- the only team in the NFL to do so -- and a rushing attack that finished in the top 10 in the league.

 

What the Colts can't put up with from Rivers is interceptions. His 20 interceptions were the third most in the league last season.

 

"That's unacceptable, and he knows that," Reich said. "Twenty is never good under any circumstance. We want to reduce that number. We think we have the right team around him to get that number down to where it needs to be."

 

 

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4 minutes ago, EastStreet said:

Mike Wells

ESPN Staff Writer

 

I like how he talked about the importance of the back up QB reminding everyone that he had to win 2 or 3 to get Buffalo HFA on their SB run.  

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He made an interesting comment at around the 17 min mark when talking about trading the 13th pick.  He said when Ballard brought him the idea and knowing the the importance of the 3tech for this defense and knowing what they had in the works with Rivers he was all in.   He also talked about the trading up scenario and and the cost it would have taken to do that would have been a lot.   Tells me that once they had the Rivers deal figured out that they were not thinking QB in this draft. 

 

Also talking about the backup QB. He said they want someone that can come in and win 2 or 3 games a year and JB absolutely can do that.

 

Reaffirms what I have been thinking.  They want a good backup and they are not getting rid of JB because of that.  They are only on the books one more yr with both PR and JB.   

 

Won't be a QB taken in this draft IMO 

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In an interview with Ballard after the Rivers signing, Ballard said after we played the Chargers in week 1 last season that Reich went up to Rivers after the game and commented on him not missing a single throw throughout the game.  He had a 121.3 rating going 25-34 for 333 yards with 3 TDs, 1 INT and was sacked 4 times.  

 

Given that we only averaged 2.6 sacks per game last year, the fact that we took Rivers down 4 times is somewhat a testament to how bad his OL was last year.  If healthy, our OL should do a much better job keeping him upright and our running game should alleviate some pressure off him.  Hopefully this combination will help bring his INT numbers down.  I still think we need to give him a couple more weapons (ideally a solid WR and TE, IMO -- though I hear a lot of people suggesting we may add 2 WRs).  

 

 

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8 hours ago, NannyMcafee said:

Is Ballard trying to pull an Elway?

Who is going to challenge KC? 

 

 In the AFC West ? Barring an injury to Mahomes, nobody.

 

 DEN, LAC and OAK should all be solid. But they'll beat each other up and 

 probably all end up in the 6-9 win range. KC will probably clinch that 

 division by week 14.   

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Reich-Brissett = top 20   A nice guestimation that brought us a $25M 38 year old replacement that was Likely to be a FA this off season if they LOVED him so much.  
Hoyer???
  A impromptu $30+ M QB disaster plan someone came up with. Irsay??
 Yes Rivers picked us apart. i haven't forgotten Hooker playing 25 yds deep, and our Bend and bend some more D that EB was playing. 
 Gotta believe next season will be very different. Please!
 

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11 hours ago, EastStreet said:

Mike Wells

ESPN Staff Writer

 

Rivers Chargers record was 31 and 33 his last four years.

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I'm not going to over think this stuff right now. Rivers is older, his skill set has declined. That wasn't the question going into this though. It was is this better than lateral move from JB and does that translate into a better team. I think it does, but the threat of JB getting snaps in games as a non starter says there's some open questions here.

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3 hours ago, indykmj said:

 

 In the AFC West ? Barring an injury to Mahomes, nobody.

 

 DEN, LAC and OAK should all be solid. But they'll beat each other up and 

 probably all end up in the 6-9 win range. KC will probably clinch that 

 division by week 14.   

 

I meant to clarify just in the AFC. Sorry about that. 

 

 

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Hello all, I'm new here.

 

A lifetime Chargers fan who has come to the realization that I love Rivers more than the Chargers so I am going from #BoltUp to also #ColtUp!

 

I saw Rivers in person a year ago and could not believe how well in shape he was.  

 

Anyone complaining about his age need not worry as he is younger than Brees and Brady and only a year older than Rodgers and no one complains about Rodgers age.

 

As far as his skills are diminishing I disagree, his brain is unparralled outside of Peyton Manning and his stats were hampered from his hideous O line in L.A.  

 

Rivers is only 15 months removed from a 12-4 season (almost 13-3 if Melvin Gordon didn't screw up against Denver).

 

Go Rivers, get that Chip, thank goodness he's not on the Patriots with Bill Belichick!! I'm noticing that the forum won't let me write cheat!

 

#ColtUp

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i don't think this was posted but its a good review and sense of where Rivers is on 3rd down reads. I'd like to see how he looks when get better oline play.

 

 

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21 hours ago, ColtUp said:

Hello all, I'm new here.

 

A lifetime Chargers fan who has come to the realization that I love Rivers more than the Chargers so I am going from #BoltUp to also #ColtUp!

 

I saw Rivers in person a year ago and could not believe how well in shape he was.  

 

Anyone complaining about his age need not worry as he is younger than Brees and Brady and only a year older than Rodgers and no one complains about Rodgers age.

 

As far as his skills are diminishing I disagree, his brain is unparralled outside of Peyton Manning and his stats were hampered from his hideous O line in L.A.  

 

Rivers is only 15 months removed from a 12-4 season (almost 13-3 if Melvin Gordon didn't screw up against Denver).

 

Go Rivers, get that Chip, thank goodness he's not on the Patriots with Bill Belichick!! I'm noticing that the forum won't let me write cheat!

 

#ColtUp

I think Rivers will bounce back, his INT's will be down because we have a very good running game and a great O.Line. Many people don't realize that Rivers still threw for 4600 Yards last season and completed a high % of his passes. I can't stress this enough, his O.Line flat out stunk and for a QB that isn't mobile that is a disaster waiting to happen. He won't have that problem here. If a QB completes 66% of his passes and throws for 4600 yards, Umm his arm isn't shot. Some people in here apparently thinking he is done haven't watched any Chargers games. You are the 3rd Chargers fan on here that has said he is still good.

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38 minutes ago, 2006Coltsbestever said:

I think Rivers will bounce back, his INT's will be down because we have a very good running game and a great O.Line. Many people don't realize that Rivers still threw for 4600 Yards last season and completed a high % of his passes. I can't stress this enough, his O.Line flat out stunk and for a QB that isn't mobile that is a disaster waiting to happen. He won't have that problem here. If a QB completes 66% of his passes and throws for 4600 yards, Umm his arm isn't shot. Some people in here apparently thinking he is done haven't watched any Chargers games. You are the 3rd Chargers fan on here that has said he is still good.

Funny how Rivers had a better year than Brady and it was behind a horrific Bolts O line.

Rivers arm was never a Flacco arm and is just as strong today as it was 10 years ago, just like Rodgers arm is just as good at age 36 as it was at age 26.

People keep forgetting how good Rivers was in 2018.  Went into K.C. and won with his clutch play, 4th down passing, TD, 2 point conversion.  This is what you will get in Indy for at least 2 years, I hope he plays as long as Tom Shady plays for.  It's like saying Jameis is washed up at age 25.  Rivers was great in 2009 not great in 2011, he wasn't "washed up in 2011" things happen, O line, etc. 

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On 3/31/2020 at 11:19 PM, WifiGuy said:

He made an interesting comment at around the 17 min mark when talking about trading the 13th pick.  He said when Ballard brought him the idea and knowing the the importance of the 3tech for this defense and knowing what they had in the works with Rivers he was all in.   He also talked about the trading up scenario and and the cost it would have taken to do that would have been a lot.   Tells me that once they had the Rivers deal figured out that they were not thinking QB in this draft. 

 

Also talking about the backup QB. He said they want someone that can come in and win 2 or 3 games a year and JB absolutely can do that.

 

Reaffirms what I have been thinking.  They want a good backup and they are not getting rid of JB because of that.  They are only on the books one more yr with both PR and JB.   

 

Won't be a QB taken in this draft IMO 

i agree

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I believe a qb will be taken in the later rounds, why wouldnt we want a young qb to learn under Rivers while he is here for a season or perhaps 2 ? Brissett is gone after this season if not sooner and while many of us like Chad Kelly getting another option like Anthony Gordon, Jacob Eason or Nate Stanley wouldnt be a bad idea.....

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On 4/1/2020 at 11:11 AM, Blueblood23 said:

Rivers Chargers record was 31 and 33 his last four years.

better than our record without luck.  pr had a weak line while we have one of the best

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Another SD Charger X-FAN Here. You guys are getting a great competitor with the heart of a lion. He is a pure Pocket guy and a shabby O-Line is not good. You guys keep him upright and he will burn ANY defense in the League. Give him a chance. Spanos are the worst owners in the League. Always been a big fan of your ownership. You guys are going to get a few more Fans this season I predict. 

 

PS...What Spanos did to Brees was a disgrace and Chargers got ZIP for him. Biggest dummies in the League

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3 hours ago, aaron11 said:

better than our record without luck.  pr had a weak line while we have one of the best

Rivers had better skilled players. We will see if one offsets the other. 

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9 minutes ago, Blueblood23 said:

Rivers had better skilled players. We will see if one offsets the other. 

point taken but rivers is not very mobile.  they had no running game too 

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27 minutes ago, aaron11 said:

point taken but rivers is not very mobile.  they had no running game too 

Don’t like Melvin Gordon???

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23 minutes ago, Blueblood23 said:

Don’t like Melvin Gordon???

He ran for 3.8 yards per carry where Mack ran for 4.4 yards per carry.   I know the O-line was a major problem, but it was for Rivers too.  

I think Hines is as talented as Ekeler, he just needs Rivers to run the offense.  With Hilton and Campbell healthy, Pascal and Fountain along with a draftee WR and TE, this offense could roar.  

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36 minutes ago, Myles said:

He ran for 3.8 yards per carry where Mack ran for 4.4 yards per carry.   I know the O-line was a major problem, but it was for Rivers too.  

I think Hines is as talented as Ekeler, he just needs Rivers to run the offense.  With Hilton and Campbell healthy, Pascal and Fountain along with a draftee WR and TE, this offense could roar.  

I hope you’re right, but seeing I believing. I don’t like Gordon as he fumbles to much for my liking.

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Gordon has always had decent production, and yes, that's on top of trying to run behind the same crap-o-matic offensive lines that Philip has had to produce behind. But just like Philip has his flaws, so does Gordon. The biggest one that nobody has ever noticed who hasn't watched his every game is that he's wildly inconsistent. Even in games where he's had good stat "totals" at the end of the game, he regularly has runs of 1, 2, 0, -1, etc. yards, and then pow, he picks up a big gainer. As I said, that's great for the end of game "totals" stats, but for trying to consistently move your offense throughout the game, it puts major stress on everyone else, players and coaches alike.

 

As I said, he certainly hasn't been a bad back. He's been largely decent to good. And he has had some really good moments. But as most football people will tell you, you really want a certain level of consistency from your running game, and he just has rarely provided that. I think at least half of that, and likely more, has been because of the pathetic lines he's had in front of him. But whether that's true or not, the fact is he's never been a part of providing that.

 

We'll see, depending on how much of the load he carries alongside Lindsay, he provides of that in Denver. Not much different than what we'll get to see about Philip now in Indy.

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It’s tough I really like Gordon.  He’s a great receiving back and between the tackles.  He’s most importantly proven he can get TD’s in the redzone something he struggled with earlier in his career.  Not that the Colts need another RB but Gordon has a chip on his shoulder and is a huge value.  The Broncos were smart I think.  Would have loved him in Indy - not that we need him 

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I'm just happy to have a guy who will throw the football down the field. If he gets picked, etc it beats the hell out of Jacoby Brissett

 

Rivers puts fans butts in the seats

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The Colts have no illusions that the 2020 team is Super Bowl bound on the arm of Rivers. Ballard was hired to build a team using all parts. If it happens fine if not fine. The Colts caught a break with B.O.O.B. destroying the Texans hopes of ever going while that Jags are again the Jags we know and love. So the Titans are the team to challenge the Colts to take the division but if you think the 2020 Colts can beat the Chiefs this coming year your are in need of a good nights rest....for 12 months.

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3 hours ago, Blueblood23 said:

Don’t like Melvin Gordon???

they finished 28th in rushing yards as a team.  only 6 yards in front of the 29th 

 

i only know this because a chargers fan posted here and mentioned the running game being really bad last year

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The Chargers passing game certainly wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. At least not as great as it could/should have been. And what component of the offense do the running game and passing game have MOST in common? Answer that correctly and you'll have nailed what those of us who have had to suffer through watching that pathetic outfit for years now have been trying to tell you.

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Colts are much improved on paper already and beat the Chiefs by shutting them down in 2019 so unless KC improves more during the draft and late signings I would say beating them is not only within reason but actually should happen from a numbers stand point.

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You can’t underestimate how important a great offensive line is.  Doesn’t matter how good your skill positions are Gordon, Ekeler, Hunter, Keenan and Mike Williams.  Watching the Chargers- they’ve not had a good offensive line since the Fouts days.  The Titans I think have a great line and so do our Colts.  I’m more afraid of the Titans than the Chiefs and Rivers will help give these guys a chance in the playoffs.  For golfers, he reminds many of us of Phil Michelson before he won the Masters 
 

 

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14 hours ago, King Colt said:

The Colts have no illusions that the 2020 team is Super Bowl bound on the arm of Rivers. Ballard was hired to build a team using all parts. If it happens fine if not fine. The Colts caught a break with B.O.O.B. destroying the Texans hopes of ever going while that Jags are again the Jags we know and love. So the Titans are the team to challenge the Colts to take the division but if you think the 2020 Colts can beat the Chiefs this coming year your are in need of a good nights rest....for 12 months.

Anything can happen once a team make the playoffs.  

 

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He's a massive upgrade over what we had. If we get him a TE and some WR's this offense is gong to be pretty dang good. 

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Can you imagine by week 4 if Rivers throws a pick 6,the crowd chanting for Jacoby, of course right now it's hard to contemplate a crowd at all. Hopefully this goes better for Frank & Phillip than it did last time they were together.

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Gordon’s first snap didn’t happen until wk 5 & he never did gain any momentum just like all the other holdouts.  Crappy OL plus no running game = dooms day for most qb’s and it’s actually impressive what Rivers was able to accomplish.  Don’t forget they lost an ALLPRO in safety DJ that their D could never recover from.  2018 Rivers went 12-4 and nobody was calling Him washed up so look past the 2019  season.  In no way whatsoever will LOS be chanting for JB as long as Rivers is in town.  Top D plus a gunslinger could mean big things in Indy & I don’t get all the fuss.

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On 4/8/2020 at 8:58 AM, lollygagger8 said:

He's a massive upgrade over what we had. If we get him a TE and some WR's this offense is gong to be pretty dang good. 

Yes, if we get more talent at WR & TE, preferably with our two 2nd rd picks, I feel this team is SB worthy this yr.  The entire ORG feels it and only injuries can stop this team which is scary considering the past.  Lets say we didn’t upgrade either position, we still would have better success due to Rivers ability to process things much quicker than JB.  If we upgrade, Tampa dreams will be in full effect once again!!!  Lets GO!!

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Folks, back in 2004 and 2005 the Chargers had Brees and Rivers. Most know what happened with Brees injury and ending up in New Orleans.  Brees is a great QB, won a SB, found the right coach-system-team,etc.  And everyone here should understand not one Charger fan ever wished they’d kept Brees over Rivers.  I’ve never talked with one Bolts fan that said that.  Brees behind all the Bolts o-lines was not great and would have fared far worse than Rivers and his quick release.  Most on this forum would love Brees and I can tell you Rivers will make this team competitive.  He’s got his faults, but he wouldn’t be out here playing if he couldn’t win a playoff game and dude wants a championship.  This place gives him the best chance at that.

 

 

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