Philip Rivers on His Strong Start to the Season

Chargers starting QB Philip Rivers talks with the media about his thoughts going into Cleveland

On the Cleveland defense:

“Well, I just remember last year leaving the game thinking it was a heck of a group, really. They're even healthier than they were then, and the they've added some pieces. I think the biggest thing that stands out is that they’re taking the ball away. I think they’re leading the league in the differential, and it's a good defense. They're playing well. Obviously, I think the longer they're in that scheme together with [Browns Defensive Coordinator] Gregg Williams, the better they're going to be because he's multiple and does a ton of different things. Never lets you get comfortable. If you keep a group together defensively, then the better and better they're going to get at doing it and that's what's showing up this year. They're a few plays away here and there from having won them all this year. They probably feel they should have and they've certainly had an opportunity to win them all, so it will be a heck of a challenge for us.”

On the Cleveland fans:

“Yeah, it's a loyal group. Obviously, we were there a few years ago and they had their lone win against us. It's kind of the old-school NFL. There and Kansas City — there are a handful of places that still have that old school NFL feel to it. Obviously, the energy that they'll have this week, you know, with the start they've gotten off to, it will be a heck of a challenge for both the team and the crowd. The noise, and you're always dealing, you never know in Cleveland, with the weather. So we'll have our work cut out for us, for sure.”

On Browns QB Baker Mayfield:

“I haven't seen a ton. I've seen a little crossover. I've seen him play against Oakland last week. I was able to see that game of him, offensively. Obviously, he's sparked them. He's playing well enough that they've won a couple. You know, he obviously probably added a lot of energy just in general, both outside the building and inside the building. I thought he was a heck of a player coming out and he's only going to continue to improve the more and more he plays. He certainly plays with a lot of confidence. You know, that's the way to go about it.”

On his fast start to the season:

“In some ways, yeah. I think statistically it probably is [one of my best starts]. I look at, especially those two losses and things could have been better in those games, but as I've always said, I don't think one year leads into the other year. However, I felt a steadiness, as I mentioned, as we got in the back half of last year. I kind of felt it all the way through training camp. So it seemed to have kind of carried over, not just myself, but I think offensively, the balance we have, how we're using all our guys, and the weapons, and how the guys are playing up front. So I think it's a collective deal, but certainly we've got a ways to go. It would be good to kind of keep this thing rolling. It's one game at a time on this two-game road stretch that we're about to head on.”

On having a higher completion percentage:

“Yeah, I think really I think we finished right around here in 2013 — right around 70 [percent] in 2013. I always had that as a target to try to be there, really, every year. You know, again, I think it's a credit to a lot of things. I think our balance helps with that. It's not been 50. It's not having to have a ton of attempts every week and the protection helps in that, big time. Those guys are doing a heck of a job. The guys on the outside are making catches. You know, you think about [WR] Tyrell's [Williams] catch he made a few weeks ago. That's an incomplete pass to me as far as, it's a negative throw in the sense of accuracy. So I've been accurate in a lot of ways, but the guys on the back end are making plays. So there are a lot of things involved to complete passes, but if you can complete 70 percent and 8-plus [yards] an attempt, and usually not turn it over, then good things are going to happen.”

On offensive shifts this season:

“I don't know if it's more emphasis, but I think some of the whole — just more of the speed sweep stuff, just more get the ball out, and let's see if they can tackle. That's what you've seen all over and just keep throwing completions. We've always thought that, especially as an offense. Just keep completing passes, even if they're for three, and four, and eight [yards] — as a defense, it wears on them because all they know is there is another completion. They're not necessarily seeing you throw a completion for three yards and it's a completion. Although it's probably a win for the defense. In the scheme as the game flow goes, you keep throwing completions and usually something happens. Somebody's going to miss a tackle. Somebody's going to break a long one. I think the skilled players, I know they've always been good, but we've got a great group. You just see all over the league how dangerous they are with the ball in their hand. I think get into our guys and see if they can tackle and usually good things happen.”

On the receiving ability of RBs Melvin Gordon III and Austin Ekeler:

“I think as a young rookie, as I was just asked about [Saints QB] Drew [Brees], those years with Drew and Cam Cameron, just so many times hearing and then so many times hearing check down, check down. Hey, a shot is not there, check down, and you get 12 yards. I think, and I've always believed that. [Offensive Coordinator Ken] Whis [Whisenhunt] has been the same way in our time together, but I think when you're running it is when it helps. You running the ball the way we’re running it, it even adds to that. There have been tons in these last five games where it's play-action, there's guys running deep and there are people all over the place — it’s here, Melvin, and you look up, and it's a 13-yard gain. I think it's always been in the back of my head is if it doesn't look good, get these guys the ball because your play action and your linebacker turn and run, and then you dump it to those guys. Their ability — with Austin and Melvin's ability — to catch the ball and do something with it, shoot, you take 12 yards a pop from any of those. Then there's a lot of things we do when they're No. 1 in the progression. Like Austin's touchdown last week or in the screen game. I think we have the ability to be very multiple in both our — who we get the ball to and how we do it scheme-wise. There are so many different things we can do and our guys, credit to the offensive staff for being so creative. It asks a lot of your players. We have a sharp group and a group that enjoys that kind of middle challenge of how much can we do, how much can we handle? I think we ask a lot of it. It's impressive how flexible they are because it's not easy to do all the things we do in multiple formations, shifts and all those things and make it go and still play fast, but our guys handled it well. 

On how the running backs rank compared to other tandems in his career:

“Yeah, I tried my hardest to stay away from the best I've ever had, or best I've ever been around, but that's hard to do. It seems wherever you are in the moment, that's where you are. We've had some great back combinations here all the way back to those years in 2006 when it was [Hall of Fame RB LaDainian] L.T. [Tomlinson], [former RB Michael] Mike Turner and [Eagles RB Darren] Sproles — and that stretch went for a while with L.T., and after Mike went, and Sproles. Then you looked up, and shoot, [former RB] Ryan Matthews, [former RB Mike] Tolbert, [former RB Jacob] Hester and [former RB Danny] Woodhead, and the stretch with [former RB] Ronnie Brown, and now it's a — I probably left some guys out, so sorry to the guys I left out — but we've had some good backs that can handle it in these two and all those guys that have a knack for it as well. They do a little bit of everything.”

On his conditioning:

“Not so much at this point, but I felt better physically in January than I felt sometimes finishing the season. I just had nothing. I had nothing nagging whatsoever. I usually finish the year, and something hurts for a while into January, but it was one of those we finished hot and I felt really good. It was, ‘Gosh, can we start this season right now?’ I just remember feeling that way in January and February. So I maybe kind of got back into routine physically working and doing some things sooner than normal. I felt good all offseason into this year so far getting into this. I didn't do a lot of changeup to the offseason, but I haven't been on the ground very much. Those guys up front are doing a heck of a job.”

On quarterbacks being fiery and showing emotion:

“Just like every position and in different sports too, pitchers and these guys in the outfield or first basemen are this way. Everybody kind of has a certain prototype, I guess that they see. I think, shoot, at least I've learned I don't know [Browns QB] Baker [Mayfield] at all, I think you've got to know boundaries, but then I think you've got to be yourself. That's when each individual performs the best, when they're themselves while also trying to improve in every area they can, if there is a better way. I think over time if you’re yourself and you do it the right way, over time people kind of figure you out.”

On T Sam Tevi and T Trent Scott:

“They did a nice job. They did a nice job. You're speaking about [T] Russell [Okung] and [T] Joe [Barksdale] like they're gone forever. I don't think that's the case. There is a chance you may see them both trotting out there this afternoon when you come to the early part of practice, at least hopefully. I thought Trent and Sam did a heck of a job. They battled. I think it's one thing we have with all our group, those first five, and then you mentioned Trent and Sam now have been thrown into that role — Sam more so than Trent, more game experience since Week 1 — but we've got a gritty, tough group, and I'm glad. I'm just excited about the guys we have.”

On Saints QB Drew Brees setting the all-time passing yards record:

“Yeah, it was awesome. I certainly was tuned in watching it counting the yards down. A heck of an accomplishment. It's crazy when you think about it, how many yards that is. That's a ton of yards. I think credit to him, obviously, and I heard Drew's comments of him thanking and giving credit to so many people that have had a hand in it, as you expected him to do. Obviously, he's a talented player and passer and all those things. I think it was just hard work and preparation — and really probably maybe more than anything, the belief in himself. I wasn't here during the early times of his first couple years. I know it was a bumpy start, and then I get drafted here in 2004, and shoot, he kept me sitting for those two years. I was able to watch and learn, and he really got it going then, and what he's done in New Orleans the last 13 years or whatever has been remarkable. So I was happy for him. He and I still keep in touch. It was fun to watch