No one has to tell Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt the importance of a quarterback.
When he had one, he was a bright young coach who led a once-scuffling team to a Super Bowl. When he didn’t have one, he quickly became the former coach of said scuffling team.
Now that he’s gone from Arizona, he thinks he has what he needs in Philip Rivers.
“I think he can be a Pro Bowl quarterback,” Whisenhunt told Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. “I think he can play at that level again. That’s certainly something I see from him, and hopefully we’ll be able to achieve that this year.”
Whisenhunt went on and on about Rivers’ passion for the game and his experience, saying he “just loves ball. You talk about the ‘it’ factor; he has it.”
What he doesn’t have is the kind of help on offense he used to have, when the early stages of his career with Norv Turner helped make him a star. Now, a shiny new crop of young quarterbacks has come onto the scene and taken teams to the playoffs, and Rivers is largely forgotten in discussions of top passers.
But between head coach Mike McCoy (who has helped draw up winning plans for quarterbacks as diverse as Tim Tebow and Vinny Testaverde) and Whisenhunt (who was a lot smarter when he had Kurt Warner, or Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh), Rivers is in a good spot to bounce back.
“Let me say this, from the standpoint of having been in this league for a long time and having seen good quarterbacks,” Whisenhunt said. “This guy is up there, as far as his ability to process things, his ability to make all the throws that he needs to make and his ability to be a leader and rally these guys around him.”
Rivers has shown that ability in the past, but will need more than coaching to get back to Hawaii again.