Quarterbacks. They get far too much positive attention when their teams win and far too much negative attention when their teams lose. That's why Joe Flacco is now a legend with the biggest contract in NFL history while Tony Romo and Philip Rivers toil to gain the favor of local fans despite the fact their individual accomplishments tower over anything Flacco's done.
Rivers, it was said last week by U-T San Diego columnist Kevin Acee, is running out of time to prove that he can take the Chargers to the promised land. It's a new regime in San Diego -- one with zero ties to Rivers -- and the Chargers have gone three straight years without making the playoffs, going 24-24 in that span.
Rivers' numbers have dropped off the last two seasons and he's certainly had his interception troubles, but it occurs to me that Rivers hasn't exactly received a lot of support from his teammates of late. Are the Chargers failing to win because of Rivers or in spite of Rivers?
The offensive line surrendered 50 sacks in 2012, earning a Pro Football Focus ranking as the second-worst pass-protecting line in the league. The previous staff let key offensive cogs like Darren Sproles and Vincent Jackson walk and the defense has lost its teeth, putting extra pressure on Rivers. The rest of the AFC West has improved immensely, while the Chargers have stood still.
Only nine percent of the offensive players on the field play quarterback. There are hundreds of factors that go into deciding which teams are good and which are bad. Quarterbacks play a role -- a big one -- but not the only one. Rivers needs to work on his decision making, but he also needs more support. And even if things don't turn around completely in 2013, the Chargers might not be any better off with whatever they can find in the draft or on the open market.
My point is that the grass is always seemingly greener on the other side at times like these, but that's actually rarely the case. Rivers is still a much-better-than-average quarterback., but he's not in a good spot.
One thing that's becoming obvious: The best thing Eli Manning ever did was refuse to play for the Chargers.