Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers has been catching a little heat this week after last Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns. Rivers definitely seemed to struggle with the Browns defense in the 23-32 loss, and put up his worse stat line as a Colt so far. However, despite the rough week, Rivers’ influence on his offense overall this year has been mostly positive, and he has created some sound production for his team. So is the negative media attention he’s getting this week really called for?
Philip Rivers and the OVM charts
Rivers has now completed five games as the Colts quarterback, and if you look closer at his numbers, he has done a steady job through the first quarter of the 2020 season. The 17-year veteran has done really well with his accuracy when hitting his receivers as well as targeting tight windows with aggressive passes. His individual efforts on the year have created a healthy amount of offense, providing a strong level of value to his team. This becomes more apparent when looking at Rivers’ OVM grades for this season, which is created on his own individual production.
The Offensive Value Metric (OVM) was created to provide a numerical scale to measure the overall value that an individual player provides to his offensive unit. A player with a higher OVM grade isn’t necessarily a higher skilled player, but they do create more offensive production for their team than a player with a lower OVM.
On the year, Rivers has an overall OVM grade of 29.60. This is very good for a quarterback. This illustrates that a higher percentage of the offense’s total success is on Rivers’ shoulders. A good NFL quarterback should be scoring in the high twenties on the OVM charts.
Rivers’ primary wide receiver targets in T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal have season OVM grades of 28.34 and 27.84, respectively — very much in line with River’s grade. This shows the balance between the receiver and the QB, illustrating that both parties are doing their share. An exception is Colts’ tight end Mo Alie-Cox, who has been an individual difference-maker with an OVM of 39.49. Because he is able to make tighter catches and do more after the completion, his production levels are much higher.
Philip Rivers’ 2020 stats are good so far
Creating positive offensive production as a quarterback requires accuracy, aggressiveness, and balls thrown further downfield — things that Rivers has mostly been able to do right so far in 2020. For the season, Rivers is currently stack ranked as the sixth most accurate QB in the league according to NFL NextGen stats with a completion percentage of 70.80%. And these aren’t just dump-offs or wide-open passes that he’s completing, either. He’s currently ranked in the top ten for aggressive passes with 18.20% of his attempts into tight coverage.
The top third of all NFL quarterbacks have already surpassed 1,000 passing yards this season. That, of course, also includes Rivers. Rivers has completed 109 of his 154 attempts for 1,227 total yards and four touchdowns. He has a passer rating of 89.40 on the year, which, unfortunately, was brought down significantly after this past weekend.
Rivers has been really good this year, for the most part. He has created some very solid offense for his team and has an impressive stat sheet showing so far. For his individual production, he’s ranked in the top ten of all NFL quarterbacks for the 2020 season after just the first five weeks, and this includes his most recent less than stellar game.
There is definitely room for improvement moving forward
But the consistency definitely has some room for improvement. There is a pretty significant spread between Rivers’ best game and worst game of the year, and it’s a fairly small sample size of just five weeks. The bounce rate on his performance trends is too broad for what we like to see in the top consistent NFL quarterbacks. This obviously causes some concern for reliability with your leading player.
Rivers’ passer rating has swung from as low as 60.50 to as high as 125.60, and he hasn’t established a steady trend in any one direction yet. And of course, the side effect of having so many aggressive pass attempts is the possibility of interceptions — which he has already had his share of this year. Rivers’ five interceptions are ranked seventh-most among QB’s so far. Both of the Colts’ losses included at least two picks.
It’s still early in the season, especially considering Rivers is working in a completely new offense from last year and didn’t get an opportunity to work out the kinks in an offseason. Hopefully, as the season progresses and Rivers becomes more comfortable in this scheme, he can tighten up his game a bit and improve the consistency. In the meantime, he is definitely the right man to be under center for the Colts right now. A couple of off-games isn’t anywhere near a good reason to replace Philip Rivers with Jacoby Brissett any time soon.
Overall, don’t let a handful of missed targets overshadow how good Rivers has actually been playing this year. It’s easier to remember the few bad plays over the good ones, but Rivers is most definitely a top ten quarterback right now.
That being said, there is, for sure, some room for improvement. Rivers will need to tighten up his play. He has to carry more overall weight for this squad in order to offset the performance of his wide receivers, who aren’t necessarily ‘top performers’ (with the exception of the tight end position).
This may sound like a tall order for your new quarterback, but that’s why you sign someone who’s been playing professional football for nearly two decades, right?