Philip Rivers, who was ranked the 21st most valuable of the 35 quarterbacks, will be the Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback at the beginning of the 2020 season.
While with the Chargers, Rivers led them to four double-digit win seasons and had just four below-.500 years in 14 seasons as a starter.
Although Rivers’ final season with Los Angeles was a down year, he led the team to a 12-4 record in 2018.
There are several questions surrounding Rivers as he enters his first season with the Colts.
After a subpar 2019 for Rivers, he will have an improved offensive line in Indianapolis:
PFF ranks the #Colts as the 4th best offensive line this season and calls Anthony Castonzo the team’s highest graded o-lineman and “consistently one of the better left tackles in the league over his career.” (CC: @BradWellsNFL) pic.twitter.com/Zc1cRlv5Ts
— Luke Schultheis (@LuckAtLuke) September 24, 2019
The Colts, who entered 2019 with Pro Football Focus’ fourth-best offensive line, jumped to third after the season.
Rivers should be able to improve from his 20 interceptions in 2019.
With more time in the pocket, Rivers will not be approaching a career high in interceptions again.
Last season, he completed 390 passes, the second-highest of his career.
Part of the reason for his relatively high completion rate of 66 percent was his tandem of running backs.
Expect the #Buccaneers to acquire or draft a running back who is a top-end receiver. Since turning 40, Tom Brady has completed an NFL-high 364 passes to running backs and he trails only Philip Rivers in yards (3,008) and touchdowns (23) to RBs in that time, per @ESPNStatsInfo
— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) March 20, 2020
Rivers’ NFL-best success with passing to running backs allowed for Ekeler to catch 92 receptions on 108 targets in 2019.
Ekeler also scored a league-high eight receiving touchdowns.
His 9.2 yards per target led all running backs with at least 25 targets last season.
Mack’s realistic expectations for 2020 are high because of the addition of Rivers to the team.
Mack should at least double the number of receptions (14) that he had in 2019.
He also should score at least 10 touchdowns for the second time of his career.
Hines, who had one fewer reception than Hilton’s team-high 45 in 2019, should continue to be a very important part of the passing game this season.
After breaking out as an impressive punt returner in 2019, Hines can duplicate his rookie receiving season.
The 2018 fourth-round draft pick jumped out of the gate and caught 63 passes from Andrew Luck for 425 yards and two touchdowns.
How the Rushing Game will be Helped
By involving the running backs in the passing game, Rivers can open up the offense for a better rushing attack.
If the offense is firing on all cylinders, Rivers can make the 2019 middle-of-the-pack offense into a top one.
Jacoby Brissett’s offense last season produced the third-fewest passing yards in the league.
Rivers’ Chargers produced the sixth-most passing yards.
An important commonality between Rivers and Brissett is that both of their 2019 offenses controlled the time of possession.
With the improved offensive line for Rivers, all the offensive weapons will be able to benefit and help continue to win the time of possession battle.
The Indianapolis rushing game will not have to be relied upon as much as it was in 2019, so it should have a better yards per attempt average.
The 38-year-old Rivers does not have the wheels that Brissett does, and therefore, Rivers attempted 144 more passes last season than Brissett did.
With a strong quarterback like Rivers, the passing and rushing games will be benefitted, and Mack and Hines could have career years.