In his first year under new head coach Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers out together arguably the best season of his career.
Chargers’ center Nick Hardwick thinks Rivers can reach even loftier heights this fall.
In an interview with Mike Costa and Judson Richards on XTRA Sports 1360 in San Diego, Hardwick said he believes 2014 will be Rivers’ best.
“I can’t imagine not playing with Philip this year because I truly believe this will be the best year of his career,” Hardwick said.
It’s a high bar for Rivers to surpass. Last season, Rivers completed a career-high 69.5 percent of his passes and matched a career-high with a 105.5 passer rating. It was just the third time in his career Rivers has thrown for at least 4,400 yards and at least 30 touchdowns.
Rivers saw his passer rating dip below 90 in each of the final two seasons under prior head coach Norv Turner. Touchdowns decreased. Interceptions increased and the Chargers missed the playoffs in each of the final three seasons under Turner.
Hardwick says the new staff provided a different approach for the offense that allowed them to thrive last year. That success has him envisioning the Chargers taking another step forward this season.
“We found really good direction this year in our coaching and the offensive system that we were running,” Hardwick said. “They were able to come in and identify the personnel we had, identify our capabilities and abilities and push us in the right direction. They obviously knew they had a great mind and great quarterback in Philip and we want to use him as much as we possibly can and let his brain work on the field cause it’s completely capable.
“[Offensive coordinator] Frank Reich has said [Rivers] is the smartest guy on the field when he’s out there and he certainly is, so let him see what he’s seeing and give him flexibility and time to change to the plays he wants to change to and he can make a lot happen.”