WR Eddie Royal (U.S. Presswire)
Philip Rivers accepted the role as fall-guy after Monday's meltdown, but he is not the sole reason the passing game has yet to soar. Offseason additions Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal have disappointed in a big way and need to start playing with more urgency if the offense is going to take flight.
Of Philip Rivers' nine interceptions this season, three of come on passes intended for Robert Meachem and two on throws for Eddie Royal. Part of this is due to a lack of familiarity, but the more glaring culprit is a lack of complete effort.
Take Monday's game for example. Rivers was intercepted by Tony Carter on a deep pass to Meachem. The ball was underthrown, so Carter stopped short and leaped to snare the ball at its highest point. Meachem? He just kept running down field, hoping for the home run instead of working back and competing for the ball.
Chris Harris was the next to intercept Rivers on a short throw to Royal. But it was Royal who failed to finish his route and fight for position in front of the defensive back, leaving the ball to go right into Harris' numbers.
This is a rough adjustment for Rivers, who was spoiled for years by Vincent Jackson. Jackson would always fight for the ball, making sure either he caught it or no one did. He was also adept at making back-shoulder catches, a skill no current receiver possesses.
WR Robert Meachem
Meachem and Royal will never be as good as Jackson. A.J. Smith knew that when he signed them to more cost effective contracts. But they need to be better than Legedu Naanee, Seyi Ajirotutu and other rotation players who have shown more want-to in recent seasons.
Naanee and Ajirotutu are both free agents.
Although the Chargers are unlikely to add a free agent at this point (save for possibly Michael Spurlock), there is some help on the way. Vincent Brown, who broke his ankle in the second preseason game, is eligible to return to practice as soon as he is fit and can return to game action in Week 9.
The time is now for Meachem and Royal (25 receptions combined) to step up and win back the trust of their QB. Otherwise, Rivers will keep checking down to his running backs -- and throwing the ball to the opposition -- at an unbelievable rate.
What's wrong with Rivers? Help dissect this loaded question in the message boards.
Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.