Here are five lessons we learned from Saturday night’s 24-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
1. Special Teams Steps Up–After last week’s disappointing showing, head coach Mike McCoy challenged the special teams unit to step it up, and they responded in resounding fashion.
"We challenged everyone on special teams during our week of practice to pick it up, and they answered the bell. This is the way we like to play, with all three phases doing their job…It was great to see as a football coach. We challenged everyone this week to take the next step, and I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
2. Winning Matters– Although it won’t show up in the regular season record, the Chargers all agree that beating the Cardinals was an important win for the team. Perhaps
“A win is a win. They don’t all count, but they all matter. We can learn from this. We can grow from this. And we can get a little confidence. The thing that really excited me, and the entire team, was the energy that we came out with. We had a real bite to us. A real fight about us. And that needs to be recreated in practice and games down the line. And that just has to be a weekly thing. If we do that, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”Hardwick was far from the only Charger to echo these sentiments as
“No matter what you say about the preseason, that it doesn’t impact the record or that there’s nothing on the line, that’s wrong. We’re out there competing and as a professional player you want to go out there, execute and win. So to go out there, get a complete win and play well in all three phases – that’s what it’s going to take for us to win a championship.”
3. Freeney is Special– There’s no other way around it;
“It’s just awesome. To know the guy, Dwight is a great teammate who is so passionate. You understand why guys play for so long and are great at their position. He epitomizes that. His knowledge of the game and the way he comes to work, he’s special. And to see him, it brings up everyone else’s level knowing how he can change the game within one play. And we’re glad to have him. He’s going to make some special plays this year.”
“I think that’s the tempo we wanted to play at today. We wanted to make sure that we got in some situations where we could play some no-huddle. It was an idea we had early on to do it and see what happens, sai d McCoy during his post-game press conference.
5. The Right Mentality– The energy and mindset of the Chargers right from the get-go was noteworthy. They mentioned in the locker room after the game that the mentality they had in all three phases of the game is one they will need to maintain and build off of in the regular season. All you need to do is hear what Rivers said regarding that approach:
“I liked the mindset of our guys. Everybody knows we’re still in the early stages of where we need to be, but it was just the energy…It felt like Monday night tonight. That’s how it felt. That’s how the approach was. That’s how the mentality was and that’s a positive sign.”