Best Chargers’ QB- Dan Fouts or Philip Rivers?

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Mandatory Credit: AP Photo
Mandatory Credit: AP Photo

The San Diego Chargers are a blessed franchise as they have had two of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game. Dan Fouts is already a Hall-Of-Fame quarterback, and most suspect that one day Philip Rivers will too be enshrined in the most prestigious of clubs.

Comparing the two can be very difficult as each played in completely different eras. Fouts’ era in the late 70’s and 80’s was one of power football and controlling the clock. His aggressive aerial attacks were surely ahead of their time. The offense that Fouts ran was absolutely high-powered for the time. Rivers, playing in the modern era where quarterbacks have an advantage, has been very consistent. The two men are surely the best two QB’s in franchise history, bar none.

Dan Fouts was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the 3rd round (64th overall) of the 1973 draft. He was taken out of the University of Oregon, where Fouts was a three-year starter. He threw for nearly 6,000 yards and 37 touchdowns in his collegiate career. Fouts set 19 school records in his time at Oregon and was inducted into their ring of fame in 1992.

His professional career didn’t start out as well for the big quarterback out of Northern California. His first five seasons, Fouts played sparingly, only starting about half of the Chargers games. He threw 57 interceptions in his first five seasons while only throwing 34 touchdowns. Still, even though he was picked quite often, he showed a lot of toughness to the Chargers coaching staff. Both mental and physical toughness is necessary for success in the NFL, and Fouts definitely had both.

A Chargers assistant coach in 1976 named Bill Walsh spoke about Fouts and this is what he said: “Dan Fouts has a cool, steel-like nerve and courage… He took a lot of beatings, a lot of pounding, but continued to play, hurt or otherwise. He played more physical football than anybody on his team, including the linebackers”. Wow, what high praise from one of the best coaches in the history of the game, a true assessment of Fouts as he was constantly taking a beating.

The Chargers offense rarely took snaps out of the shotgun, so Fouts constantly had to drop back and pass and would take considerable beatings by defensive players. The era of football was different and the running game was constantly featured by other teams. The Chargers were not other teams, and with the arrival of Don Coryell in 1978, the franchise was about to take its game into a whole new level.

Mandatory Credit: AP Photo
Mandatory Credit: AP Photo

Upon Coryell’s hiring as head coach, the Chargers transformed into a pass-heavy team. This offensive strategy was truly ahead of its time, as the Chargers would aggressively throw the ball and feature the tight end as a receiver. Under Coryell, the Chargers were known as Air Coyell, and the NFL would never be the same. To run this offense you needed a gunslinging QB that was tough and smart. Fouts easily fit that bill. In fact, Dan Fouts says that if Don Coryell didn’t become the Chargers coach, his football career would have ended.

Coryell embraced Fouts and his strong arm. The Chargers stocked up the receiving core with the likes of Wes Chandler, Charlie Joiner, John Jefferson, and Kellen Winslow. That foursome would create havoc for opponents’ defense, and the Chargers turned into the highest scoring team in the NFL. In 1980 Winslow, Jefferson, and Joiner became the first teammates to have 1,000 yard seasons in the same year.

In 1982 Wes Chandler had an average of 129 yards per game receiving, still an NFL record. When Charlie Joiner retired from the NFL, he owned the career receptions lead with 750 total. That has since been eclipsed, but the Chargers offense was who gave birth to modern offenses.

Despite going to the playoffs for four straight seasons, the Chargers failed to make it to the Super Bowl. The team was close twice, losing in the AFC Championship game. Those four seasons were the only time the team made it to the playoffs, with Fouts under center. In the end, poor defenses and the unwillingness to run the ball hurt the Chargers. Fouts career playoff record was 3-4. Although he never won the big game for the Chargers, Fouts was elected to the Pro Football Hall-Of-Fame in 1993. Fouts finished his career with six pro-bowls and a 1982 NFL MVP award. He was also first team All-Pro in 1979 and 1982.


4 thoughts on “Best Chargers’ QB- Dan Fouts or Philip Rivers?

  1. I’ll leave the stats to the geeks. Remember, Rivers schedule year after year is middle of the road just like his talent. The guy throws an ugly ball more often than not. He doesnt sling it, he awkwardly pushes it towards his target. I’ve watched rivers tank a lot if games. Big games. You know what pisses me off as a fan since 92 and Stan Humphries? Why this franchise has heaped more than 200 million dollars on a QB that’s never in his 14yrs here done anything. The only 2 constants since rivers was anointed are Rivers and Spanos. Stars have come and gone on to win elsewhere. Others finished careers with this lousy team. Others play today without seeming to know that as long as Rivers is QB, the Chargers will never win a Super Bowl. He will tank that opportunity every time. And guess what fans..?? Expect another 2-3 years of losing when he finally retires because hes so sure of himself that their isnt any need to have him groom a successor. Thanks again Phil, for nothing. Enjoy the 202 Million you banked being here. And know this, stan humphries was more exciting to watch and most could trust him not to fumble or throw a last minute interception.. and I guarantee you, he wasnt a pansy and had no problem with a qb sneak. I hate Rivers the player. I hate what hes always promised and never delivered on. Hes a choke artist.

  2. I’ve watched both careers. Rivers has started 215 straight games & has had nine 4000 passing yard seasons. Stats mean everything. Fouts has over 100 more interceptions. Rivers has almost 55,000 passing yards. You have to be blind or just have a man crush on Fouts, to say he is the greater of the two. I would like to know why anyone would think Fouts is better.

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