- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Philip Rivers has long been known as one of the NFL’s premier long-ball passers. While Rivers still owns a top-notch gun, he isn’t throwing the ball deep as much as he did in recent years.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Rivers’ average pass this season is traveling 6.7 yards -- third-lowest in the NFL. Last season, Rivers' average pass traveled 9.0 yards, the league's ninth-highest average.
There is a theory that Rivers’ passes aren’t going as long as they did in the past because his favorite deep threat, Vincent Jackson, is now in Tampa Bay. Asked this week about the trend, Rivers downplayed it, saying that each game has a different feel and that he throws what opposing defenses give him.
“I think some of these games the safeties are about 30 yards deep,” Rivers told reporters. “Last week, I think our first three completions were over 20 yards so it’s week-to-week. If teams are playing the soft cover, that’s the last thing I need to do is try to force a ball up the field. If teams give us the opportunity to throw up the field, then we’ll throw up the field. I think it’s too early in the year to say there is a trend of anything. … I think teams are still growing.”
Throwing short hasn’t hurt the San Diego offense, but because of Rivers’ arm, the Chargers need to take advantage and develop the deep game more as the season progresses.