INDIANAPOLIS — Philip Rivers on Saturday spoke with local reporters in a conference call, just briefly after officially signing his contract to become the Indianapolis Colts’ new quarterback. What were some of the highlights from that session?
» Rivers this offseason had a conversation with his family about the possibility of retirement for the first time, but also knew he still wanted to play if the right opportunity came along: After spending the first 16 years of his career with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, Rivers knew it was time for a change of scenery following the conclusion of the 2019 season. The 38-year-old said that led to the word "retirement" being tossed around with his family for the first time — Rivers said he has aspirations of coaching his kids' high school teams when they're old enough — but knew he could still play at a high level, and would let the free agency process play out to see where he stood.
In the end, he said it was clear that the chance to reunite with his former offensive coordinator, Frank Reich, and quarterbacks coach, Nick Sirianni, in Indy, which featured one of the top young rosters in the league, was just too good of an opportunity to pass up.
"Just kind of have had a lot of family time and just kind of enjoyed that and that wait and see – wait and see what happens," Rivers said. "I was still excited about playing and hoping to get another opportunity to continue my career and certainly thankful that it's going to be with the Colts.
"It just all worked out," Rivers continued. "I am just super thankful the way it worked out and excited to – again – be a part of it because we know, shoot this is the ultimate team game. And to be a part of this group and to try to help, like I said get to the top of the mountain is an exciting new challenge for me."
» More on that Reich-Sirianni-Rivers combination — it has the potential for more fireworks in 2020: Both Reich and Sirianni, the Colts' head coach and offensive coordinator, were on the Chargers' staff together with Rivers for three seasons from 2013-15, when Reich was quarterbacks coach, and then offensive coordinator, while Sirianni was an offensive quality control coach before being promoted to quarterbacks coach.
Rivers would have one of his best seasons as a pro under their guidance in 2013, throwing for 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns; he led the NFL in completion percentage (69.5) and was fifth in yards per pass attempt (8.2) and fourth in passer rating (105.5) and was named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year.
In total in Rivers' three seasons under Reich and Sirianni with the Chargers, he ranked, on average, second in the NFL in completion percentage, fifth in passing yards, fifth in touchdown passes, sixth in passer rating, seventh in fewest interceptions and ninth in yards per pass attempt.
Rivers said the opportunity to jump right back into Reich and Sirianni's playbook in Indy will be a huge advantage moving forward.
"I'm sure there are certainly some things that have changed — I look forward to learning those and getting a feel for those — but for the most part it is going to be almost the same system that we've ran since I've been in since '13," Rivers said. "In a lot of ways you find out over a long career that a lot of us all run the same thing. You call it a little differently. But I think having some same verbiage, having that familiarity – again, I have been in meeting rooms with Frank, Nick and (tight ends coach) Jason Michael. I have been in meeting rooms with those guys. We communicate the same way. I know what those guys are trying to get out of a play and why they are calling this. They understand what I think and how I look for things. There is a good dynamic there from the way we communicate. I think that that is a positive and I do think there was a trust factor that was built in our time here in San Diego."
The "trust-building experiences" that all quarterbacks need to establish with their playcallers have already been established between Rivers and Reich/Sirianni. From the start, as soon as Rivers gets to the Colts' facility for offseason workouts, it'll be all football, all the time.
"It's important to have that trust – that Frank has called the plays before and we've made it work," Rivers said. "I've communicated this to him, we've had a lot of those experiences together – those trust-building experiences and I think that that certainly lends to the confidence that this is going to be a successful opportunity."
» Rivers is truly "taking it one year at a time" from here: Rivers is already one of the NFL's great all-time ironmen; he has started 224 consecutive regular season games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL and the third longest since 1970.
Over the course of his 16-year NFL career, Rivers has not only displayed toughness, though — he's been a darn good quarterback. He signs with the Colts having thrown for the sixth most touchdowns and passing yards in league history.
But at 38 years old, and turning 39 in December, Rivers realizes the finish line is approaching. He's confident he can still play at a high level in 2020, and maybe even beyond, but for now he's comfortable signing a one-year deal and focusing on today.
"There really wasn't necessarily a plan like, 'Hopefully we can do one year, hopefully we can do two.' It was just kind of, 'Hey, whatever works out best for both sides,' and it happened to work out this way," Rivers said. "And, again, like I said, we're a ways away. We know how this league is, things change in a hurry, but certainly hope that it's longer than that. But I think it's just important to focus on this season and focus on right now. How can I get better and help the Colts today? And doing that throughout the rest of this offseason and throughout this season.
"I do feel good, I feel great," Rivers continued. "If I feel like I feel right now next year, then I'll be excited to keep going. Again, depending on how the team feels about that and etc. So, I don't know, I don't have a number on it. Like I said, I want to coach my son, my oldest son. I have two boys that are 12 and eight (years old). He'll be a sixth grader, so we have a little bit of time but that is important to me to coach him in high school. So, if that gives you a little idea. I'm not going to get carried away. I don't think you'll see me in the Tom Brady range. But I am excited and feel like I can still help a football team go win a championship."