Zimmer: Philip Rivers one of the best QBs of all-time

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has a heightened appreciation of Philip Rivers' talents.

After all, Zimmer has schemed against the Chargers quarterback as defensive coordinator with the Cowboys, Falcons and Bengals for the past decade. His offensive coordinator, Norv Turner, coached Rivers from 2007 through 2012 in San Diego.

"He's really tough. I really love everything about him," Zimmer said Wednesday, via Chargers PR director Bill Johnston. "In my opinion he's one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, just because of the way he wins, the way he competes and fights. I love the guy."

Zimmer expanded on those thoughts in a Wednesday interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio:

"Philip is a great, great challenge each time you play against him. He's extremely smart, he's crafty in getting them in and out of the right plays. I think he's extremely tough in the pocket. He's going to stand in there and take his shots. And then he's going to get the ball out quick when he needs to as well.

"He is extremely accurate, he can make all of the throws, he's a great competitor and he's tougher than nails."

Zimmer hit on all of the reasons for Rivers' success.

Although Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees are most commonly cited as the paradigm of pre-snap reads, Rivers takes a backseat to no one in grasping the mental aspects of the job.

"I knew he was an elite passer, but I didn't realize this was one of the smartest football guys in the NFL, bar none," offensive coordinator Frank Reich raved last year. "If there is a top 10 list of smartest guys in the league, he's on it, promise you. ... He just sees it faster than anybody else."

When the Chargers beat the Eagles in a shootout a couple of years ago, cornerback Cary Williams noted that Rivers knew everything Philadelphia's defense threw at him.

"Some days you get out-witted, some days you get outplayed, and today was one of those days," Williams added. "He just found the matchups. Philip Rivers is a great quarterback."

While the football world wrestles with the notion that Peyton Manning's aging body is betraying him, Rivers continues to pull off a convincing Manning impression of his own.

It's easy to forget that Rivers set an NFL record last season by generating a passer rating of at least 120.0 in five consecutive games. He's leading the league this season with an 81.2 completion rate and an 89.6 accuracy percentage.

He brought the Chargers back from a 21-3 deficit in Week 1 by riddling the Lions' defense with a quick-strike, up-tempo attack in the second half.

"If you don't get to him get around his feet and get him a little nervous in the pocket," Vikings defensive end Brian Robinson acknowledged Wednesday, "he can pick you apart."

When Rivers slumped in 2011, 2012 -- and again late last season -- it was due to subpar pass protection and/or injuries. As is the case with any great quarterback, however, he elevates the play of those around him when provided with a solid support system.

Among quarterbacks of his generation -- enjoying the prime years of their careers in the past decade -- only Manning, Brady, Brees, Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger have played at a higher level.

For the sake of Rivers' Hall of Fame chances, here's hoping he hoists a Lombardi Trophy before he takes his bolo ties and cowboy boots into the sunset.

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