- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Such maturity and sense of purpose is one reason for San Diego's optimism. Coach Marty Schottenheimer is confident his young quarterback has absorbed the offense over the last two seasons and will be smart enough to handle whatever adjustments offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will make as the season progresses. Schottenheimer says the high-scoring offense (26.1 points per game) doesn't have to go conservative for Rivers's benefit. "He's already a very good decision maker," says the coach. "I compare him to [former Browns quarterback] Bernie Kosar. Like Bernie he's bright, highly competitive and very instinctive."
If Rivers doesn't become overwhelmed by the speed of the action, his teammates believe he will be an instant success. Wide receiver Keenan McCardell admires the competitiveness and perfectionist nature of the new passer. "He wants a 100% completion rate in practice," McCardell says. "He never likes it when a pass hits the ground." Guard Mike Goff, who played in Cincinnati when Carson Palmer took over the Bengals, sees a similar confidence in Rivers. "When some new guys get into the huddle, you can see that they're not sure of themselves," Goff says. "Philip wasn't that way."
How well Rivers and Gates work together may ultimately determine the success of the offense. In the off-season the quarterback spent more time getting to know his tight end than any other receiver on the team. They live in the same neighborhood, so Gates often stopped by Rivers's house to work on routes and hang out. "I compare it to breaking in a new point guard," says Gates, who played power forward at Kent State. "I want him to know that if anything goes wrong, he knows where to find me."
With so many options available to him, including the dynamic Tomlinson, Rivers realizes he doesn't have to force his play. "Philip is like everyone else on this team," Schottenheimer says. "His success will be a product of what the entire cast does." Rivers is eager to make his mark. "Everybody has a starting point," he says. "It's how you finish that really matters."
11 at Oakland (M)