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Bolts Embrace Oddity of Their Schedule
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The San Diego Chargers close out the preseason Thursday night hosting the Cardinals. Just 11 days later, they visit the desert for the season opener in Arizona against the very same team. A back-to-back series against the exact opponent to end the exhibition slate and kick off the actual season is a very unique and new experience for all .
“Well, it will be a first for me and I think for a lot of people,” said Head Coach Mike McCoy. “I think you’re not going to show as many things. You’re going to do certain things against them you may not be doing in the opener, but I also want to put the players in a position to succeed and give them a chance to make this football team. We’re going to do what we do.”
Whether a rookie in year one or a coach with decades worth of experience in the NFL, every single member of the organization say the scheduling quirk is something they’ve never faced in their entire football lives.
“A lot of years in the NFL, I don’t think I’ve ever had this scenario,” said Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich. “It’s an interesting scenario, so you learn every year from it. It’s another year to learn what that experience is like.”
Learning is a major emphasis when looking at the back-to-back series as a whole. There is a fine line between learning the opposition’s tendencies for the more important second game, but at the same time you don’t want to give too much away so they pick up on yours. Still, the Chargers are taking the right mindset heading into the odd scheduling.
“This is definitely different, but you can’t control the schedule,” said Donald Brown. “Whoever your opponent is, you just go out and play them. But it definitely is a unique situation. There is obviously going to be a lot of carry over, and we’ll have extra days to analyze them and focus in on them which will be nice.”
Brown’s response echoed throughout the entire locker room as it’s clear the Chargers are making the most of the situation instead of lamenting on it.
“It’s certainly weird,” said Seyi Ajirotutu. “But we don’t have any say on who does the scheduling. Our job is to just go out there and play. I’ve never done anything like this. It will be a lot of focus on blocking, running our plays and staying focused.”
John Phillips had a similar answer.
“It’s unusual!” he said with a laugh. “And not just with the Cardinals, but we’ll play three teams in the preseason we face in the regular season. But we’ll get a good look at them and get a better (feel) for their base schemes. But at the same time they’ll get a better look at us too so it goes both ways. So it’s definitely unusual but we’ll be able to get a good look at some of their core stuff.”
While things may be more on the “Vanilla” side on Thursday, it will still be a dramatic affair as final cuts commence hours after the clocks strike zero.
“We’re going to have a plan going in on how we’re going to play it,” said McCoy. “Like all the preseason games, and the fourth preseason game, you go in with a plan of what you want to do. There are a number of guys fighting for a roster spot, so we want to make sure we give all those guys quality looks, give them an opportunity to succeed and see how we’ll make that next step like we talk about in the preseason. Who are going to be those final guys? We have a good idea right now if you put on paper how we’re going to do things. But there are going to be one or two guys who will step up and a guy or two who will not play as well, so you’ve got to make some tough decisions.”
Tickets still remain to see the front-end of the Chargers-Cardinals double-header which will go a long way toward determining who is on the team the next time these teams face each other 11 days later. Read