NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - INSIDE SLANT
A lot has changed for the Chargers after they squared their record after six games.
Then again, not much.
The Chargers travel to Jacksonville to face the winless Jaguars on Sunday. That trip comes less than a week from their stunning victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
But if the Chargers stub their toe in Florida, that ray of sunshine they collected Monday night will be quickly forgotten.
"We have to go in with the same attitude we had, which is our back is against the wall," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We were 2-3 last week and we are only one week removed from that. Not a whole lot has changed at 3-3. It's not like all of a sudden we are sitting at 6-3. We still have a long way to go."
The Chargers will be trying to do something they haven't done all year: win consecutive games. The Chargers would love to do it now, then enter their bye week with a winning record and another heaping of confidence.
And all signs point to them doing just that. The Jaguars haven't won yet, and not many think they will do so on Sunday.
Of course, not many gave the Chargers a shot at stopping the Colts, and we know how that turned out.
"It was a complete game," Rivers said of the 19-9 verdict. "Then again I can show on the film where we made a bunch of mistakes. We got a lot of improving to do."
So Rivers, and other veterans like center Nick Hardwick, are making sure that message is being heard. The joy of Monday turned Rivers into a grump on Wednesday. Well, as much as he can be one anyway.
"We got to come in here with a little frown on our face," Rivers said. "When Wednesday gets here it's like, 'Hey, we got to go.'
"We don't have time to keep yucking it up about the last game. That is gone and I think it is key because we have so many young players. We started the week off right."
Now can they start next week in the same manner, not falling into the trap of following a good game with a stinker. Their outings one game removed from a victory at Tennessee and Oakland as proof positive.
"Every game is important," Rivers stressed. "But when you're at the point we are in the season, you got a bye week coming up next week, we got to find a way to get this game won."
SERIES HISTORY: 6th regular-season meeting. Chargers lead series, 3-2, and have won the last two games. The Chargers defeated the Jaguars 38-14 in Jacksonville in 2011 and beat them in their last visit to San Diego in 2010.
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - NOTES, QUOTES
--Running back Ryan Mathews had one of his better games with the Chargers as he rushed for 102 yards in the win over the Colts. But he also made a crucial mistake when the Chargers were trying to milk the clock, failing to stay in bounds with 2 1/2 minutes to play. Mathews' miscue didn't go unnoticed by coach Mike McCoy.
"That could have cost us the game," McCoy said. "When you look at the big picture of things of running out of bounds, letting them not have to call a timeout or letting the time run out, whatever their strategy was going to be there, that's a critical mistake and we can't have that. Those are things that cost you in a close game like this. We were fortunate that it worked out alright, but you would hate to look back on that situation. We won a game in Denver against Chicago when a guy ran out of bounds giving us an opportunity to get the ball back and have more time to win a game. It's one of those deals where the player has to learn from it. It's something you don't want to happen. They are going to make mistakes, but he has to stay in there and fall down."
--When left tackle King Dunlap came over in the offseason from the Eagles, it was believed Dunlap would supply depth. That was especially true when the Chargers brought in Max Starks to compete for the starting job. But Dunlap beat out Starks and has proved to be a steady influence in protecting Philip Rivers' blind side.
--As a first-year head coach at any level, McCoy has been quick to lean on his staff. Especially when it includes a former NFL head coach in Ken Whisenhunt; he came over after being let go after last season by the Cardinals. McCoy, to his credit, is quick to praise his staff.
"We're very fortunate to have the staff, not just the two coordinators that we have here, but the entire staff," McCoy said. "I think they work very well together as a group, offensively, defensively, and special teams. That was the first priority when we got here was, putting a great staff together of not only good football coaches, but good people. I think that's what the coaches represent in here and I think the past couple weeks, it was the Dallas game with the offensive line and the adjustments we had to make up there, with Joe (D'Alessandris) and everybody up front, and then with what John (Pagano) and Joe Barry and everyone on the defensive staff did with the linebackers that have come and gone during the season that have been injured the past couple weeks, it says a lot about them."
-- Rivers said if his wife, Tiffany, goes into labor to deliver their seventh child this weekend, he's staying in Florida. "Once in Jacksonville, I'm in Jacksonville," Rivers said. He noted that instead of being there, he would rely on FaceTime to stay connected with his wife.
Although Rivers doesn't own an IPhone.
"I have an Ipad,"he said. "So it's even a bigger screen for a better view."
BY THE NUMBERS: 6 - Number of consecutive losses the Chargers entered the game with when they last played Jacksonville in 2011; the Chargers won the contest to snap their skid. That is also the same number of defeats the Jaguars have opened this season with.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If we're fortunate enough in the end to be in a position we want to be then you are, but you can't worry about other teams." -- Coach Mike McCoy on if he peeks at what other AFC squads are doing in regard to the Chargers making the playoffs.
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Chargers remain thin at tackle, which is why they brought in Mike Remmers. He was among the inactives on Monday night, but Remmers, who was signed off Tampa Bay's practice squad, is being brought along quickly in practice.
Remmers was signed on the same day, Oct. 10, that Mike Harris, the team's top backup tackle, was placed on IR with an ankle injury.
Right tackle D.J. Fluker is playing but is slowed by a calf injury; he missed a game earlier this year with a concussion.
Left tackle King Dunlap returned on Monday after missing a game with his concussion.
Nick Becton is the top backup tackle now, but he could be pushed by Remmers, depending on how quickly he can get up to speed. And that could be Sunday, where Remmers could be active for his first Chargers game.
--K Nick Novak was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after kicking four field goals in Monday's win. Novak's last effort, from 50 yards in the closing minutes, iced the win for the Chargers. In six weeks, the Chargers have been honored three times. QB Philip Rivers won the offensive award twice. "It's a great honor," Novak said. "It's actually a three-man award. Actually, 11-man. All the guys up front, holder, snapper, they all did a great job."
--Don't overlook the play of C Nick Hardwick. As the front line has been ravaged by injuries, Hardwick has been the anchor in the middle, the lone lineman not to miss playing time this season. Hardwick and QB Philip Rivers have great chemistry as two of the team's leaders. "I think he is having one of his best years," Rivers said.
--WR Vincent Brown continues to emerge as one of QB Philip Rivers' favorite targets. Brown, in his third year, has 24 catches which leads all the Chargers' wideouts. He's collected 239 yards and a touchdown as well. Brown missed last year with a broken ankle.
--CB Derek Cox did something on Monday night that no other member of the Chargers' secondary had done all year: intercept a pass. Cox's pick of Andrew Luck sealed the win and gave the defense its second interception of the season. The other one came to defensive tackle Cam Thomas on a tipped pass in the season's opening minute.
--ILB Donald Butler (groin) didn't work on Friday and he could be down another week - he's officially listed as doubtful. With Manti Te'o being designated to wear the defensive headset on Sunday, that could be a sign the Chargers don't expect Butler to play.
--G Jeromey Clary (clavicle) was a full participant and will start on Sunday.
--G Chad Rinehart (toe) didn't practice and was ruled out vs. Jacksonville.
--WR Eddie Royal (toe) did not practice Friday and is questionable.
--RB Ronnie Brown (ankle) was a full participant.
--OLB Jarret Johnson (hamstring) was limited Friday and is officially listed as questionable.
--T D.J. Fluker (calf) was a full participant.
--DE Corey Liuget (shoulder) was a full participant.
--CB Richard Marshall (groin) was a full participant.
--CB Johnny Patrick (chest) was a full participant.
--CB Shareece Wright (hamstring) was a full participant.
GAME PLAN: The Chargers would be wise to lean again on their new-found running game and for a couple of reasons. The Jaguars will likely need some turnovers to stay with the Chargers, and those are more easier obtained through the air. Now it must be noted that Ryan Mathews is a big part of that running game, and he has had ball-security issues in the past.
Still, the Chargers can lean on the run and not put Rivers into situations where a bad throw or a tipped ball give the Jaguars a score or puts them in keen field position. Plus the Jaguars are ranked last in the league in allowing 192 rushing yards per game. The Chargers are coming off their best rushing game of the season with 147 yards and there is no reason to go away from it. Not this week.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Chargers pass defense, which was able to stymie the Colts' Andrew Luck vs. Jaguars passing game, which has got a boost with the return of WR Justin Blackmon -- The Chargers looked good last week in their pass defense -- hey, even a rare interception was collected. But the Chargers can't go to sleep on Chad Henne, a veteran, and Blackmon, who has returned with two solid games after being suspended the first four games. One good thing going for the Chargers is their defensive backs are getting their health back. Derek Cox figures to get matched up much of the time against Blackmon. Blackmon had 190 yards in the loss to the Broncos last week and 136 yards vs. the Rams. The Chargers could get a break with Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts being compromised by a shoulder injury.
Chargers run defense, which might be without ILB Donald Butler vs. Jaguars running attack with Maurice Jones-Drew -- If Butler's groin doesn't allow him to go for the second straight game, backups such as Andrew Gachkar and Bront Bird will be asked to help Manti Te'o on the interior run defense. Te'o has looked better of late, so that is encouraging. Then again, so has Jones-Drew, who had a season-high 21 carries last week against the Broncos. The last time the Chargers faced Jones-Drew, he rushed for 97 yards and added 91 receiving yards in the Jaguars loss to the Chargers. The Jaguars running game hasn't shown much this year, but Jones-Drew can still hurt a team, like the Chargers, that can be inconsistent.