Rivers has distinctive, effective delivery
by Mike Wilkening, profootballweekly
Remember when people worried about Philip Rivers' unconventional throwing motion as he was coming out of North Carolina State? Sure, you do.
And if you loudly voiced any concerns, you're hoping the passage of time sweeps them from memory.
As was expected, Rivers recently signed a lucrative contract extension with San Diego, one that reportedly assures him $38 million in guarantees and $93 million overall if he plays out the six-year contract, which expires in 2015.
With Rivers' big deal on the brain, we polled several NFL insiders for their thoughts on the NFL's most unorthodox passers. All respondents participated on the condition of anonymity.
THE THREE FUNKIEST MOTIONS
1. Philip Rivers / Chargers - He was the first player mentioned by all of our respondents. Rivers has a lower release point than most quarterbacks, hoisting it from around shoulder level. "It's not classic at all," one AFC assistant said of Rivers' delivery. However, at 6-foot-5, Rivers can get away with it, and there is no doubting his success with his rather unique throwing motion. A prolific collegiate passer, he won over scouts with an outstanding performance at the 2004 Senior Bowl. In the pros, Rivers has distinguished himself with his accuracy, toughness and intelligence. Two separate respondents noted how well Rivers understands coverages. In 2008, he took his game to a new level, completing 312-of-478 passes for a career-high 4,009 yards with 34 TDs (a career best by a dozen scores) and only 11 interceptions.
2. Byron Leftwich / Buccaneers - Leftwich has found respect hard to come by at points of his career. The Jaguars gave up on him before the 2007 season, and he has bounced from Atlanta to Pittsburgh to Tampa Bay since. That said, Leftwich has enjoyed some NFL success; he has a 24-22 record as a starter, and he drew raves for his work as the Steelers' backup in 2008. The 6-foot-5 Leftwich has the size of a prototypical pocket passer, and he has the desired arm strength and grit. His delivery? The league's longest, according to our panel. "He has such a long windup," said a coach familiar with Leftwich. "He looks like a closer coming off the mound." However, another panelist noted that Leftwich's arm strength compensates for his relatively slow release.
3. Jake Delhomme / Panthers - "His ball never looks like it has any zip on it," one NFC assistant said. While lacking great arm strength and generally delivering the ball with a sidearm motion, Delhomme has made his mark by being a fairly accurate passer with a strong understanding of the game and exceptional toughness. He also did well to limit mistakes in the '08 regular season, committing only 15 turnovers in 16 regular-season starts. That said, he imploded in the postseason, throwing five picks and losing a fumble in a home loss to Arizona.
David Carr / Giants - His sidearm delivery is "very unorthodox," according to one respondent. He took far too many hits behind a porous Texans offensive line early in his career and never developed into the franchise quarterback Houston had hoped it was drafting in 2002. He has fared OK as the Giants' top backup to Eli Manning but has struggled somewhat in training camp.
Kerry Collins / Titans - Like Leftwich, he has a long delivery - and arm strength in reserve. "A little unconventional, but it gets the job done," one panelist said.
Tony Romo / Cowboys - "He's kind of like (Brett) Favre was," one panelist said of Dallas' starting quarterback, who has a three-quarters release. "He's got a pretty unique motion."
Michael Vick / Eagles - He has a long, deliberate delivery, but his arm strength is undeniable. He also can deliver the ball side-armed.
Vince Young / Titans - He releases the ball from almost behind his ear with a sidearm motion. He made major strides in his accuracy from his first to his second season as the Titans' starter but lost the job to Collins in Week One of the '08 season and has not regained it.