INDIANAPOLIS – It’s the gunslinger mindset that can make fans go crazy when watching him.
A 4th quarter involving Philp Rivers with the ball is always entertaining.
And the Colts like that—taking chances in the game’s most critical quarter to try and win the game—and something that was missing from them in 2019.
“As long as he thinks he has a chance to win, he’s throwing the ball down the field,” Frank Reich says of Rivers. “And when other quarterbacks might be taking check downs, he’s trying to make chunk plays.”
Reich knows the risks that come with that mindset.
In 2019, Rivers was one of the worst fourth-quarter quarterbacks in the NFL.
He tossed 9 of his 20 interceptions in the final period, completed just 60.7 percent of his passes and had a quarterback rating of 73.9 (27th in the NFL).
Conversely, Jacoby Brissett also struggled in the 4th quarter (72.5 rating), but in a much different manner.
Baker Mayfield was the only AFC quarterback with a worse rating than Rivers and Brissett last season.
But, the Colts would rather have had a guy like Rivers taking chances to try and get his 5-11 football team (the Chargers record last year) back into the game, compared to the more conservative Brissett, showing hesitancy in pushing the ball down the field.
Reich knows what the Colts are getting in their new quarterback, and vice versa, with the two working together in San Diego from 2013-15.
“Frank as a football coach was awesome to be around,” Rivers said last season, when his then Chargers were about to meet Reich’s Colts. “Frank, as a man, was even better. I enjoyed the time spent in the meeting room. We had so much fun and there were so many discussions on what we were going to call this and what we were going to call that and name this. It was awesome football stuff and life stories. It was a good couple years.”
With Rivers now in the Colts building, Reich and the Colts are feeling his passion. The Colts love the consistency, and particularly the throwing accuracy, that Rivers brings to work.
Rivers’ passion for the game of football has him open-minded to tweaking his approach even after 16 years in the NFL.
“He loves football,” Chris Ballard says of Rivers. “Tremendous internal drive to be a great teammate, to win, to be the best he can be. He has had to buy into some things that we do here nutritionally and workout wise that he’s never had to experience before. It’s different for him, but he’s bought into it. His love for the game and football, and his teammates, they are going to feel it even more now that he’s here in the building.”
“He knows how he works, but Philip agrees and we agree that he can get better,” Reich adds. “Just because it’s Year 17 and he’s 38 years old, there are ways that he can physically get better. “So he’s committed to doing that. He also knows that we’re committed – like we are to every other player on our team – to tailoring something that is very specific to him at 38 years old, 17 years into his career.”
Inside of the Colts locker room, the early Rivers’ impressions came second hand.
For Anthony Castonzo, that was from Matt Slauson, who was with the Colts in 2018, and was also Rivers’ teammate the two years prior to coming to Indianapolis.
“(Slauson) said (Rivers) was a great guy, great leader,” Castonzo says.
“Watching (Rivers) play, it seems like with the team that he’s on, they are never out of the game. He’s one of those quarterbacks that no matter what is going on, you have to expect that he’s going to score on a possession and that’s always exciting.”
Exciting? For sure.
Maddening? At times.
But the Colts definitely have a QB in 2020 who will be more than willing to take chances with the game on the line.