The Los Angeles Chargers announced Monday that quarterback Philip Rivers is in the concussion protocol after a Week 10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. If he’s unable to play in Week 11, it would be Kellen Clemens starting for the Chargers against the Buffalo Bills.
Rivers, 35, has never missed a game since he took over the starting job for the Chargers in 2005. There’s a possibility that Sunday would snap a streak of 185 consecutive starts.
“Phil came in today and self-reported concussion symptoms,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “He’s seeing our doctors and being evaluated. He’s now in the concussion protocol, and we’ll evaluate him for the rest of the week.”
He never left the game against Jacksonville, and the Chargers don’t know when the injury occurred, but Rivers helped to tackle cornerback A.J. Bouye on what turned out to be the Chargers’ last offensive play of the game:
He finished the game with 235 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception, but the Chargers lost in overtime when Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo made a 30-yard field goal to win it.
The Jaguars’ pass rush has the most sacks in the NFL through the first 10 weeks, but didn’t bring down Rivers once. He was hit to the ground five times, though.
Lynn said that Rivers would be the team’s starter again as soon as he passes a concussion test, even if he missed the entire week of practice.
“He needs to pass the test first,” Lynn said. “If he’s not healthy, we do not want him on the field. But if he’s healthy and ready to go, yeah, (he’ll be out there)….He would definitely be up (when cleared). At this stage of his career, he can play without practice. He would definitely be up.”
What does this mean for the Chargers? It’s a big loss for the team if it’s forced to turn to Clemens, a career backup who has thrown just 10 passes in clean up duty over his four seasons with the Chargers. He’s made 21 starts over his 12-year career and has an 8-13 record with 16 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
The other option on the roster is Cardale Jones, a former Bills quarterback who was traded to Los Angeles during the offseason. Jones was a fourth-round pick who saw action in just one game as a rookie in Buffalo and threw 11 passes, including one interception.
Rivers is what makes the Chargers offense tick and with the team already at 3-6 on the year, losing the quarterback for a while could officially close the door on any kind of rebound in the final seven games of the season.
What does this mean for Philip Rivers? It’s speculative, but an injury for Rivers has to at least raise the question of retirement for the quarterback. He’ll turn 36 next month and has dug in his heels about moving his family from San Diego.
When the Chargers moved to Los Angeles and began practicing in Orange County, he spent about $200,000 on an SUV for his daily commute to and from practice.
His desire to keep his family in the same place, and the Chargers inevitable decision to acquire a young quarterback to groom for the future mean Rivers’ time in the NFL may have already been hinting at the possibility of retirement being on the horizon for the quarterback. A concussion probably won’t help.