Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is certainly in the upper-echelon of NFL quarterbacks, but is he comparable to two of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time?
According to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, yes.
Perhaps not in pure football talent and certainly not in wins or Super Bowls, but Belichick, who coached Rivers in the Pro Bowl, seemed to have nothing but good things to say about the quarterback when recently speaking to the media. Here’s what he said, per ESPN.
“Tremendous,” Belichick said Wednesday morning in a news conference filled with superlatives for the Chargers. “He’s a tremendous player, a great competitor, a really smart player.
“I got to know him a little bit out there [at the Pro Bowl after the 2006 season] and he has a real thirst for knowledge; not that there is a lot of scheme at the Pro Bowl, I’m not saying that. It’s one coverage, but the conversations lead beyond that, how to attack different schemes and so forth.”
That’s high praise from someone who has forgotten more about football than most coaches will ever know, but Belichick actually took it a step further than that. Rivers is good, and in particular, he’s football smart, but Belichick actually thinks he’s on the same level as his quarterback, Tom Brady, and another elite quarterback, the now-retired Peyton Manning:
“He’s a real football guy, like Tom [Brady], like Peyton [Manning], guys like that. They’re deep, deep into it.”
Of course, Belichick isn’t saying that Rivers plays at the level of Brady or that he’ll be a no-doubt Hall of Famer like Manning, but both Brady and Manning are and were (respectively) known for their ability to control a football game, and apparently the Patriots’ head coach sees that same kind of game-command in Rivers.
The 5-2 Patriots take on the 3-4 Chargers this weekend at Gillette Stadium. Rivers has passed for 1,816 yards and 12 touchdowns this season with five interceptions.