Below are three takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley's media availability on Wednesday:
Chargers focus on consistency ahead of Week 14
At 6-6 with five games remaining, it's now or never for the Chargers.
The Bolts currently sit in the ninth seed in the AFC playoff picture and will play three out of their final five games at home, including back-to-back home games starting this Sunday.
Although each game will be big down the stretch, it will be no different than any of the games they've played since the bye week, according to Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, who stressed they have all been of equal importance.
"After the bye — once you get past halfway — every game, it means a lot," Staley said. "It's not like the Atlanta game didn't mean as much as this one, or the Kansas City game didn't mean as much as the Las Vegas game.
"They all mean a lot down the stretch," Staley added. "Every game is positioning you for the postseason."
Regardless of who their opponent is each week, the NFL is a league where you cannot overlook anyone. Staley talked about the importance of finding consistency in approach.
"I think what we're trying to establish here is every week, we want there to be that same approach," Staley said. "Every week has the same approach. The NFL demands your respect that way.
"That's what we're trying to do, find consistency in our approach and find a way to play our best football down the stretch because that's what needs to happen in order for you to make a run."
Injuries have been a key storyline of the Chargers season, as major contributors have been lost for some time.
But Staley pointed out that is simply life in the NFL. And with the Bolts only a game back of a playoff spot, this week is all about Miami and playing to the best of their abilities.
"We're a game out in the AFC," Staley said. "We've got to search to play our best football down the stretch and find our formula each week. I think that's what we've had to do all season. Week to week, we've really had to adapt every week to a new week.
"That's how the NFL is and that's how this week is going to be versus Miami, is finding that formula this game with the group that we have that's going to be in the game," Staley added. "We're going to working hard at practice, get our team back physically for this game and then go and try to play our best."
Facing off against Hill once again
The Bolts will see a familiar face on the field for the Dolphins offense this week.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill has been a gamechanger for the Dolphins in his first season there, leading the NFL in receptions and receiving yards.
Formerly on a division rival, the Bolts are well aware of Hill and what he's capable of. But even then, Staley recognized the way the Dolphins have utilized the receiver differently compared to his time with Kansas City.
"They have done a good job of tailoring the offense to his strengths, incorporating some of the things that, I think, he has trademarked in the NFL that is kind of unique to him and what he can do," Staley said. "They have incorporated some of that.
"Then, certainly, they have crafted an offense that they have done in the past where [Dolphins Head Coach] Mike [McDaniel] has been, where [Dolphins Offensive Coordinator] Frank [Smith] has been," Staley added.
Sunday will be the 12th time that Hill lines up against the Chargers defense, and they will have to prepared for the different ways that Miami is giving him the ball.
"They are utilizing him as you should," Staley said. "They are really featuring him as a guy who can get the ball in a variety of ways, and then, obviously, clear out a lot of coverage for other people.
"He's having an outstanding season," Staley added.
The Dolphins in general are an explosive team with Hill, as they are tied for second in the NFL in receptions that go for 40 yards or more (10) and second in passes of 20-plus yards with 47.
Staley talked about Miami's offense and what is the biggest key for the Chargers defense this week.
"You have to put a roof on the explosive plays," Staley said about the Dolphins offense. "They can get them a lot of different ways with a variety of players. They have outstanding team speed.
"They have a lot of guys who can get deep within the coverage," Staley added. "They also have guys who can catch it short, and then turn short plays into big plays. They have two outstanding runners, who are also good pass receivers."
Williams returns to practice
Wide receiver Mike Williams has been out with an ankle injury since Week 11 but will be on the practice field this week according to Staley's weekly injury updates.
"Mike Williams, you will see him at practice this week," Staley said.
The Chargers conducted a walkthrough Wednesday and participation was estimated. The wide receiver was listed as a limited participant — his first time on the practice field in over two weeks.
Like Williams, center Corey Linsley (concussion) and tackle Trey Pipkins III (knee) also did not play in Week 13. Linsley was limited on Wednesday, while Pipkins did not participate in the walk-through.
"Corey [Linsley] is progressing through the protocol," Staley said. "Trey Pipkins [III] will not be at practice tomorrow when we go full."
Safety Derwin James, Jr., was also listed on the injury report with a quadricep injury, something Staley says he suffered in the game against the Cardinals.
"From the Arizona game," Staley. "It's the same residual from that game."
As for his status, Staley said James will be "day-to-day".
Defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day will be similar to James, as he recovers from a knee sprain he suffered in Week 13.
"He will be day-to-day, as well, with his knee sprain," Staley said.
Both James and Joseph-Day did not participate in Wednesday's walk-through.
Finally, cornerback Bryce Callahan (groin), guard Zion Johnson (shoulder) and linebacker Kenneth Murray, Jr. (hamstring) were limited participants in Wednesday's walkthrough.
Bolt Up for 2023!
Secure your 2023 Season Ticket Memberships today! Click here to learn more.