Jaguars Looking Ahead To Challenge of Seasoned Veteran Phillip Rivers
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Phillip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers offense isn’t the offensive juggernaut it has been in past years, but nobody in Jacksonville is overlooking the Phillip Rivers-led unit.
The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) will host the Chargers (4-8) at TIAA Bank Field this Sunday and despite both teams struggles, Jacksonville knows a potential future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback will be standing on the other sideline. Wins haven’t come for Rivers and Los Angeles, and neither has points (20.3 points per game, ranked 22nd in NFL) but the Jaguars know the Chargers offense can still be dangerous.
After all, while Rivers has struggled at times with turnovers this year (15 interceptions in 2019), he has a plethora of weapons around him. When JaguarMaven asked Jaguars safety Marcus Gilchrist about the Chargers’ offense, he began to rattle off scouting reports of the numerous playmakers.
“Just like every year, Keenan Allen is a very good receiver. He has been a very good receiver for a long time now. Probably one of the best at route running, getting off of press,” Gilchrist said. “Mike Williams, a Clemson guy; deep ball threat, good 50/50 catch guy. Melvin Gordon, of course, his resume speaks for itself. [Austin] Ekler, the way they use him, it is a lot of weapons for him. Henry the tight end… You can just keep going.”
Jacksonville has had issues with containing Rivers in the past, but all of that gets thrown out the window with each new matchup. Not only is every new season different for each team, but with a veteran like Rivers, who is in his 16th season as a pro, it is hard to show him something he hasn’t already had success against.
“He’s played a long time, he’s tough to fool,” Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday. “It’s not like you’re going to give him something that maybe he has not seen before. I think he’s seen it all. I think he’s extremely intelligent.”
Gilchrist was a second-round draft pick for the Chargers in 2011 and spent the next four seasons as Rivers teammate. He saw Rivers each day in practice and to him, he saw the same things then that he sees on film now.
So, what does Gilchrist think the Jaguars’ defense needs to do to try to slow Rivers and his weapons down? Play their defense, he said.
“I think we just have to play assignment football,” Gilchrist told JaguarMaven. “We got a defense, we got our rules. I think we are trying to gameplan and trying to adjust to what they do, but at the same time trying to play our rules as best as we can.”
Rivers has long had a tendency to hold onto the ball and fire it downfield, so Gilchrist and Jacksonville’s secondary will be important this week. Another group that will be just as important though is Jacksonville’s defensive line, as they will try to force Rivers into mistakes or take advantage of how long he has the ball in his hand. But his wily sense of intelligence affects even the big guys up from, defensive tackle Akeem Spence explained.
“I mean Phillip, he is going to make a lot of checks as soon as he gets to the line, so that is the first thing with him. He has been playing this game for a long time at a high level,” Spence told JaguarMaven Wednesday. “And then as a lineman, you just got to be relentless against him. Just keep rushing because you know sometimes he is going to hold the ball looking to go downfield for the Keenan Allen’s, the Mike William’s of the world for the big play.”
“So for us upfront, it is just being relentless, staying tenacious, and first and foremost knocking the run out.”