Below are three takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, running back Joshua Kelley and outside linebacker Chris Rumph II from Wednesday's media sessions:
Staley ready to compete against McVay & Rams
The Chargers regular-season home finale will hold some meaning in a variety of different ways.
Not only will it be the first time the Bolts square off against the Rams at the stadium they both share, but Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley will face off against a team he knows pretty well.
Staley spent only one season as the Rams defensive coordinator in 2020, but saw great success and connections in that year. Although his experience that season was different due of COVID-19, Staley spent many hours with Rams Head Coach Sean McVay during his tenure.
"We had a really unique year together," Staley said about McVay. "It was the COVID [-19] year. He's a guy that I did not know prior to interviewing with him. I knew of him through my good friend, [Rams Pass Game Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach] Chris Shula, knew a lot about him.
"We spent a lot of time together in a little bit less than a year, spent a lot of time together," Staley added.
The time together led to a special season. During his one season, the Staley-led Rams defense led the league in both yards and points allowed per game. Staley's stellar season as defensive coordinator led to being hired by the Chargers in January 2021.
According to Staley, he and McVay being able to have success in a limited timeframe came from seeing the game in a similar fashion.
"I think the way that we see the game, you kind of met someone that really, I think, the stars aligned that way, philosophically, how you see the game in terms of offense, defense and kicking game," Staley said. "How you lead, how you teach, personnel, all of that good stuff.
"It was an incredible year for the both of us. I know that we accomplished a lot together," Staley added.
Staley still keeps in touch with McVay through text on occasion if the season allows, and also credits the job McVay has done despite the injuries they have undergone.
"Definitely. They've been going through it, too," Staley said. "It's great to have those types of allies and those people that know you well.
"We definitely stay in touch. Like I said, the coaching job that he is doing this year is just as impressive as any of the other years that he has had," Staley added.
Staley remains grateful for his time with McVay and is excited for Sunday, as he knows that they are both great competitors.
"I certainly wouldn't be here without him," Staley added. "There's a lifelong friend there.
"At the same time, we're great competitors, even though we're good friends. This game is going to be about competition. I'm excited to take the field on Sunday," Staley added.
Check out some photos of Brandon Staley's previous coaching stops that led him to be named the 17th head coach in Chargers history.
Bringing the energy on defense
It's no secret the Chargers defense has shined bright during a three-game win streak. Whether it has been the front seven or the secondary, everyone has stepped up in this much-needed stretch.
And when it comes to the defensive line, their season-high, seven-sack performance Monday night was another step in the right direction. Staley has mentioned the defense's energy over the past couple of weeks as being one of the factors to the recent success.
Outside linebacker Chris Rumph II agreed, noting that energy has been huge for everyone.
"I think we're just having fun out there," Rumph said. "We see a whole bunch of guys playing together, playing for each other. When somebody makes a play, we're all hyped for them. That energy brings out the best in all of us.
"The culmination of all those things has really brought the defense together," Rumph added.
The energy has brought lots of confidence to the entire defense, especially on third down. The Chargers held the Colts to 0-for-10 on third downs, and has been one of the best third-down teams in the league the last three weeks.
Staley believes that that aspect has been a result of this energy being brought by both the players and the Bolts fans themselves.
"Our guys are playing with a lot of energy, too," Staley said. "There's a lot of confidence, a lot of energy, on third down. Third down is one of those downs where you need all of that.
"Our crowd has been fantastic when we've been at home," Staley added. "Certainly, against Miami and Tennessee, the crowd was a great factor. Our guys are looking forward to that down, and that is what you want on defense."
This extra juice affects not only the defense, but the offense as well. The energy level of the defense at this point is contagious, as the offensive side notices it and feels it as well.
"These dudes are so excited, juiced," running back Joshua Kelley said. "You can see them in the locker room getting turnt up before the games, and they're making plays.
"They're making a lot of plays over there and they're getting turnovers," Kelley added. "It kind of rubs off. Obviously offensively, we haven't been our best, but they've been doing some great stuff."
With two games remaining, the work is not finished, according to Rumph. Still, they've found something that has propelled the team to must-needed wins.
"We're going to continue to keep working, going to practice with the mindset that we're not there yet, we don't have the defense we're capable of," Rumph said. "We still got a long way to go, but we're starting to get our groove."
Chargers change up schedule on short week
The Bolts altered their Wednesday schedule following their playoff-clinching win in Indianapolis.
The team did not get home from Indianapolis until the early hours of Tuesday morning and had to tweak their schedule on a short week.
"We got home at 5:30 in the morning — really, really early," Staley said. "I felt like getting our guys back today, with a flush-out workout and recovery session, would get their [body] clock back."
The team did not practice on Wednesday, but they did work out and recover before they ramp up preparations for Week 17 on Thursday.
The Chargers are already playing on a short week and will approach this week's game similar to how they would a Thursday night game.
"It would be like a normal week where they get a day off, and then another day, then we get into the preparation," Staley said. "We'll treat it like a Thursday game, where we have first-, second- and third-down tomorrow, then red area and situations the next day, and then a walk-through on Saturday.
"I just really felt like our team needed to get itself back after a really late trip," Staley added.
Luckily for the Chargers, they will host this week's game, eliminating any added travel. Rest and recovery is the key as the team approaches the final two regular-season games before the playoffs.
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