Monday’s 24-21 loss to the Denver Broncos was as Head Coach Anthony Lynn put it, “frustrating”.
But on a short week, the Bolts have shifted their attention to the Miami Dolphins. In order to get back to .500, Lynn knows his team still has a lot to clean up.
“You always try to take something out of a loss or a win, but we have to take advantage of plays when you have a chance to make (them) because you only have so many of them in a game,” Lynn explained. “We had a chance for a pick-six earlier in the game and (the Broncos) continued that drive and scored. Plays like that would make a difference in a game like this.”
Along with taking advantage of plays, for the defense, it starts with tackling. While Lynn said that the running game struggles are attributed to a lack of padded offseason work, he wouldn’t give that same excuse for poor tackling.
“I can’t make any excuses for the missed tackles. That’s fundamental football from day one. You’ve been doing that all your life. We just have to do a better job of tackling guys in space.”
The Bolts rotated numerous players in and out of the defensive lineup Monday night, including linebacker Hayes Pullard. Lynn said Pullard was thrust in just days after joining the team because he had previously worked in the Gus Bradley system.
With that said, those rotations were in part to keep the starters fresh as they returned to regular season action.
“We try to keep one another fresh. If you noticed, we rolled a lot of people throughout that game. That’s something I wanted to do (in) that first month. I just think starters are not ready to play four quarters all the time. We relied on our backups (and) our reserves, and I thought those guys stepped in, I thought those guys played well and kept (the starters) fresh.”
Shifting to special teams, while the blocked field goal garnered much of the attention, Lynn explained they also need to limit big returns. The Bolts gave up one on a kickoff and one on a punt that went for 36 and 48 yards, respectively. Those returns put the Chargers defense in precarious situations where success is harder to achieve.
“There were a couple returns there that put us in a tough situation; put the defense on a short field. We have to improve on the left side of our punt team and the left side of our kickoff coverage unit. We have a lot of young guys out there and they have to learn quickly. Special teams is a big deal in this league, and it’s going to decide three or four games before it’s over.”
While Lynn wasn’t happy with how Denver got pressure to block Younghoe Koo’s field goal attempt on the final play of the game, he was pleased with how the rookie handled the situation. Koo’s poise and demeanor are something to be lauded, and Lynn has full faith in the rookie moving forward.
“(Koo) did not flinch…. He has ice in his veins, that’s what I like about this young man…. You just watch him. You talk about body language, just watch his body language. He has a lot of swag and is confident in his skills. His teammates believe in him. He’s a team builder. For a rookie, you don’t see that out of rookies a lot, especially at his position. A lot of times rookies are head cases, but this young man, I guess he doesn’t know any better right now.”