Are there characteristics of Dick Lebeau defenses that are consistent every time that you see them?
“Yeah, they’ve been there for a lot of years. Not only the schemes, which are their wrinkles that are there from game to game and year to year, but the players. Almost that whole defense has been there for a long time. When you look back to ’08 or ’09 games, a bulk of that defense is still there. It’s a heck of a group and they’re ranked number one for a reason. They’re really good and it’s going to be a heck of challenge in Pittsburgh. The Chargers haven’t won there since ’95, which was the year they went to the Super Bowl so it’s a heck of a challenge and one that’s exciting being in the position that we’re in. As tough as it’s been, we get to go and play a really good team on the road and fight like crazy to get a road win.”
What do you think about people saying you shouldn’t play on Sunday?
“They’re kicking it off on Sunday. Last I heard, they’re playing and it counts.”
What’s it like to be going through what you’re going through team-wise?
“It’s tough. We’ve been 4-8 before and with playoff chances just as slim and bleak, yet in some ways this feels worse. It’s always easy to feel what you feel now in comparison. I remember being in the stadium in Atlanta after we lost in 2008 at 4-8 and that was about as low as I thought I could ever be. So I guess this ranks right up there and it’s been tough because we’ve had a chance in every single game. There are no games that we look back and say, ‘we got worn out in five games’. And that’s what hurts most, individually and as a group, when you know that if a few little things would have been different, everything would have been different. But we can’t change that. So you have to push forward. It’s exciting to go play the Pittsburgh Steelers at their place and we’ll be ready for it.”
Do any particular losses take something out of the team?
“It does at the time. I think that’s why you have a week in between to build back up. But there’s no doubt that it’s deflating when you’ve lost as many games the way that we’ve lost. But I say it every year, and I think that it still holds true, that this is a tough group and it’s one that’s not going to quit. You’ve seen it week after week now and you’ll see it again on Sunday. You won’t see a lack of effort or a lack of will. I know that doesn’t get you a win, but it does take that to have a chance. That’s one thing that you can always bet on is that we’re going to prepare and play hard every week.”
What are some of the unique challenges with the turnover on the offensive line this week?
“You’re going against the best defense in the NFL and
How do you feel knowing that you haven’t been able to score when down by a few points in the fourth quarter?
“We’re giving ourselves opportunities. It can only end in one of two ways: either converting or not. It hasn’t ended the way that we wanted it to. But there’s not a lack of confidence. It just hasn’t happened, so it’s certainly frustrating. It’s not as if we get it in those situations and we think that we’re not going to do it. It’s disappointing that we haven’t been able to come through in those situations because, like I said, those situations you can look at in successful seasons and the 13-3 years. If you look at those the other way, that’s a 9-7 year. It takes those kinds of plays to have those kinds of seasons.”
If the team doesn’t make the playoffs, could the final few games be helpful in preparing the team down the road?
“Yeah, you’re playing and you sign up for 16 (games). If it didn’t mean something, then half the league could just go home by week 12 or 13. Guys are playing and this is what we do. Maybe it’s looking too far ahead, but I’m thinking of what we can manage to salvage from a losing season. We’ve never had one. I think that there’s a lot of things that you do. We’re trying to win a game and it would be big at this point in the year to go and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh. It would mean something. That’s what our effort is going towards right now.”
Have you ever gone through a losing season?
“As a quarterback, every game, no. I think that in seventh grade we had a losing season but I played a little wide-out and other things believe it or not. I don’t know what it’s like and I don’t know how many guys do here. I know that since I’ve been here in ’04 we haven’t had one. We had a couple of 8-8’s. That’s something that as a group and as a competitor, you still care about.”
How confident are you that you’re going to bounce back and the team is going to bounce back?
“It’s just too far away. I’m trying to bounce back on Sunday. You believe in yourself, whatever it is. But it’s not just a matter of it just happening. There are a lot of hard days put into just going and playing well each week. We’ve done it in spurts and if you look back over the years at games that we’ve won, there were plays where we didn’t play very well. We’ve failed to win and there’s no consolation for that. There’s no substitute. There’s no one who can make it sounds better and I can’t make it sound better. It’s been rough. We’re going to keep fighting and the only thing we can control is this one coming up.”
Considering the amount of optimism you’ve had from OTA’s and training camp on, is it shocking that the season has turned out like this?
“If you would have asked me in May or in training camp if I thought we would be sitting here at 4-8 come the first week of December, I wouldn’t have believed you. I would like to think that there are 32 teams that wouldn’t have thought that they would be sitting 4-8. The team that we set with in May hasn’t played very many games together. The combination of those things, the combination of throwing the ball to the other team and not scoring late in games, all of those things are why we’re sitting at 4-8.”
Is Troy Polamalu more of chess match because he does so many other things out of the scheme?
“He’s an awesome player and he’s constantly doing things that are a little out of the norm. You can’t let him distract you. While you always have to know where he is, you can’t let all that he’s doing distract you and take away from your execution of the play. He’s back out there and flying around. I know that he’s been injured for a lot of the year, but he bounced back last week and was flying all over the field in Baltimore. I expect him to be very active this Sunday.”
Today you were throwing the ball with gloves on. Is that something that you’re trying out?
“I was just trying to mess around with it a little bit. I’ve messed around with it on the left hand too. It may be rainy and cold. There was nothing really to it.”