There are often times in a coach’s career he hits a fork in the road and needs to make a difficult decision for his team. If you are lucky, that dilemma occurs 4 or 5 seasons down the road and it’s something as easy as “Do I keep a 4th HB on my roster?”
Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Chargers, that fork has come before the first game of the first season has even kicked off. It all revolves around the QB position. The Chargers have had Philip Rivers at the helm of the offense since 2004, and there are some who might argue he’s had a HOF type of career. Even at 37 years old, he is the third highest rated QB in the league. A 94 overall rating, X-factor ability that makes the pass rush not affect his throws, he should still be good to lead this offense for another year. With only one year left on his contract and the CBA likely not getting him another contract after this season, he SHOULD be good for one last ride.
Enter undrafted rookie QB Tyree Jackson. He is a physical specimen, with size, speed, and strength that is rarely seen together in one football player, let alone a quarterback. His downside? He is RAW. A 64 OVR rating is nothing to be excited about, but he is still only 21 years old. He has all the physical traits that can’t be taught.
We all know that if you want to maximize a guy’s growth and potential, he needs to get in the game. Gone are the days of Aaron Rodgers sitting behind Brett Favre for a few seasons, developing into what he is today. Guys need on the field experience, and it’s easier the younger they are.
I have spent countless nights and hours pondering the decision. Could I potentially make/win the SB with Rivers and this roster? I think I’d be in the running. What about with Jackson? I think that drops the odds down quite a bit. To me, it comes down to going all in for one season, or looking to maximize the possibilities for the long term.
Now another thought is “What if this plan doesn’t work like you want?” Well, if Jackson isn’t the answer and everything blows up in my face. In that case, we don’t dwell with these “what ifs…” We learn from our mistakes and look to the future. A bad season only helps the draft pick, and if Jackson is not the guy, it will be that much easier to replace him with whomever is next up.
Now what to do with Rivers? He will be the backup. He has been practicing holding field goals like a boss. He can spend more time with his 19 kids. That is fine. He has had a great career in SD/LA, but unless an injury happens, he can relax for a bit. With one trade left, he also has the opportunity to play elsewhere if a QB hungry team comes asking, or if their star QB gets hurt and they need someone to come in and keep the team on track. Who knows? He will always be ready to step in and be the guy if asked.
It’s really a scary situation to be in as a new coach. I like to think of it as handing your 16 year old keys to your Ferrari. They might not be ready for the experience and they could wreck it…. but sometimes you just have to trust them and pray for the best. I am well aware this is easy click bait for you “sports writers” out there with your “He’s making a mistake! He is wasting this team! RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!” I am not one to just take the easy path in life. Sometimes you have got to go with a high risk / high reward and see what happens. Maybe I ended up with another Demarcus Russell. Maybe he turns into a Cam Newton. Only time will tell.
At least he’s better than Daniel Jones will ever be… #shots