Whether it is suiting up on a short week, playing in the thin air of Mile High Stadium, going up against one of the top offenses in the NFL or facing an opportunistic defense that has proven to be at its best in the fourth quarter, there is no shortage of challenges facing the Chargers when they kick off against the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.
And the Bolts are embracing each and every one of them.
“We have to get the next one,” said Head Coach Mike McCoy. “We have a short week in Denver, playing an outstanding football team. We have to go back and look at how we played against them last time. It’s a great opponent. We’re going to get in there and put a great plan together on a short week and just keep going, one day at a time and one game at a time.”
After the Chargers fell to the Broncos 28-20 in their first matchup on November 10th, there were some fans and media who praised the Bolts for what they deemed a “moral victory”. The Chargers did not take well to that assessment, making it clear that they are in this business to win, not just keep it close.
“We have higher expectations than just being in the game or making it close,”
The type of play Fluker spoke about was in full effect a few days back in the Bolts victory over the New York Giants. If they are able to sustain that type of performance come kickoff Thursday night, especially on the defensive side of the ball, they like their chances.
“Are we going to play the same that we did against Eli (Manning)? Yes, I hope so,” said Defensive Coordinator John Pagano. “Are some of the things that we did something we have to do? Yes it is. It's all about executing and it's about going out there and the players were really talking over on the field about the different alignments, assignments and different looks like that. We have to go out and execute the call, get lined up and most of all communicate.”
Pagano also didn’t shy away from the number of challenges Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense present.
"We are playing the number one offense in the National Football League on the road in a short week,” he said. “I think that is as big a challenge as it gets. Their receivers are the best. They have a great quarterback. They have great runners. Their offensive line plays at a high level. When you look at the categories, they are number one in everything. I think that is a challenge in itself of going in to Colorado and playing this game. We will make sure we show up."
Offensively, there are a number of areas the Chargers know they need to clean up from their first match to improve their odds of winning.
"I think we had some big plays in that game where we had penalties,” said Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. “You can't have those kinds of mistakes because they can make a difference in the game. We put ourselves, early in the game, in some third and long situations which makes it tough. One of the areas we have to work on is we have to score touchdowns when we are in the red zone. There are some things that we have to work on from the first game, but we did some things well in that game too. Our third down conversion rate wasn't bad against a good defense. We ran the ball pretty well in spots. We had the long one that was called back that Ryan (Mathews) had. We just have to know we are going into their place where we have to handle the noise and we have to work together as a unit. We have to be really focused on building off of some of the things we have been doing well the last couple of weeks."