Below are three takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley and outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy from Wednesday's media sessions:
Van Noy making a difference for Bolts
It took Kyle Van Noy awhile to notch his first sack of the 2022 season.
But when he got in Sunday night against the Dolphins, it was a thing of beauty … and a team effort.
"It felt good to finally get on the board. I've been close for a couple weeks," Van Noy said. "Just getting into a good groove as far as understanding the assignments and knowing what to do. Everybody being on the same page for that, too.
"Obviously, I get credited with the sack, but [Morgan Fox] takes a double team, [Khalil Mack] takes a double team, the secondary does their job. To me, that's what goes into getting a sack," Van Noy added. "It takes everybody doing their job. I got the attention for it, but the whole defense deserves attention. I think we played with good energy the other night and hopefully we can keep it going."
It's been a busy season for the 31-year-old Van Noy, who has played multiple positions for the Bolts after signing as a free agent this offseason.
He primarily lined up at inside linebacker in training camp but moved outside after Joey Bosa was injured in Week 3.
Van Noy has started every game since, recording five quarterback hits, two pass deflections and a fumble recovery.
"Kyle has been an incredibly important asset for us on this football team. He's providing that experience, providing the versatility," Staley said. "When you go down a bunch of injuries, he is able to step in and really play a role that we weren't counting on him playing in terms of just being a starting edge player and playing on the edge every single snap.
"He has been able to fill in and do that at a high level. Had a big time rush the other night. He's playing the run tough," Staley added. "He is doing his job on third down, which is kind of what he is famous for, what he has kind of trademarked. We're going to need all of that down the stretch. As we get guys back, he is going to be one of these guys that we lean on heavily within the game planning process."
Now, as the season enters the home stretch and the games mean more, the Bolts are leaning on the man with a dozen games of postseason experience to help try and guide them to the playoffs.
Staley said Wednesday that Van Noy has been an invaluable resource for him the entire season.
"Off the field, he has that championship experience. He can really talk to guys about how to play deep in the season and how to play your best football because he has been a part of it," Staley said. "He has been a part of all different types of teams, veteran teams, young teams, and anywhere in between. Teams that start hot, get hot, whatever, you can lean on all of that with your team and that is one of the big reasons why we wanted him here.
"He has been great for me. He has helped me tremendously and you can't have enough guys like him," Staley added. "He has been fantastic for us."
As for Van Noy, his message to teammates has been a simple one.
"We're not in the playoffs yet, but just focusing on one game at a time," Van Noy said. "Everybody wants to talk about the bigger picture, but it's honestly just focusing on the Titans. That's it.
"Then worrying about everything else later," Van Noy added. "Just focus on winning this game, then do that the following week and see where you're at."
If the Chargers can do that, they will likely like where they are at by the end of the season.
Staley pays tribute to Leach
The football world lost one of its most innovative minds — and fun personalities — on Monday night with the passing of Mike Leach.
Leach, who was recently the head coach at Mississippi State, passed away at age 61 due to a heart condition.
Staley said he never met Leach but would have jumped at the chance to do so.
"I did not, unfortunately," Staley said. "I would have loved that because I am sure that he would have made my game better, because he did it for so many other people."
But Staley said the impact Leach made on the game is immeasurable. Leach helped pioneer the Air Raid offense, a high-octane passing attack that routinely saw his teams put up top numbers across the country.
In fact, Leach-led quarterbacks compiled four of the nine highest single-season passing yardage totals in FBS history.
Staley on Wednesday commented on Leach's overarching impact on football.
"When you think of Air Raid, you think of Mike Leach and the impact that he had on college football and pro football. He is one of those guys where you will remember what he brought to this game forever. You will," Staley said. "It impacted college football, pro football, the lives of a lot of players, a lot of coaches. I think that is what has been incredible to see over the last couple of days is the impact that he had on so many people in the game of football. There are not as many true innovators out there as you think and he is certainly one of them.
"When I think of offensive football — there is a simplicity to the Air Raid. There is a simplicity of how they get lined up. There is a simplicity in the types of plays they run," Staley continued. "I think of execution. I think of production. I think of getting the ball to your best players. Playing a certain style and believing in that and getting people to believe in that. Just one of those special, special coaches.
"Again, I know some guys who have worked for him. I know some guys who have played for him and they all say the same thing and I think it is great to celebrate his life. As a football historian, as someone that loves this game so much, as a former quarterback and now defensive coach, you see all of the staples of that system everywhere in football," Staley added. "From my kid's youth 7-on-7 leagues at the youth ages, all of the way to the highest level in the NFL and then everywhere in between. That's when you know that you have made your mark on the game."
Leach also spent a decade at Texas Tech and eight seasons at Washington State as a head coach in his career.
Leach guided the Bulldogs to an 8-4 record this past season, bringing his career record to 158-107 over 21 seasons.
Earlier this week, the Bolts continued an 18-year tradition of surprising local elementary school students with brand new bikes for the holidays! Chargers OLB Khalil Mack, DL Morgan Fox, WR DeAndre Carter, K Cameron Dicker, DL Otito Ogbonnia, LB Derek Tuszka, and LB Tyreek Maddox-Williams joined the Bikes for Kids Foundation and Pechanga Resort & Casino at Mayo Elementary school where they were greeted by over 150 deserving second and third graders. The bikes were built by Bolts Community Crew – powered by Pacific Premier Bank – volunteers the Saturday prior, and kept hidden from the students until the players revealed the news.
Parham expected to play Sunday
Staley offered a handful of injury updates Wednesday afternoon.
The most positive development is that tight end Donald Parham, Jr., who has been on Injured Reserve since early November with a hamstring injury, is expected to play Sunday against the Titans.
"I'm excited to get D.P. back. I'm really proud of him. He's been extremely patient. His patience has been tested," Staley said. "To get him back, it's going to be great to have him back in there. He has been a very productive for us. He has size. He has run-after-catch ability.
"He's been a good blocker for us, which, as you guys know, last year, was a very important part of his job. That was kind of a surprise for us," Staley added. "To get more tight ends in the game, adding him into the mix with Gerald [Everett], Tre' [McKitty] and Stone Smartt], we think that that is going to hopefully be a thing that helps us down the stretch here."
A handful of other players — Bryce Callahan, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Trey Pipkins III — were listed as limited in Wednesday's walkthrough session.
Staley noted that while rookie Ja'Sir Taylor played well in the slot against the Dolphins, Callahan will resume his starting role when healthy enough to do so.
"Bryce is one of the top players in the league, so if he's healthy, we want to be able to use him," Staley said.
Derwin James, Jr., did not participate in Wednesday's walkthrough and remains day-to-day with a quad injury.
"We're going to try and get him back," Staley said, "but we are definitely going to err on the side of patience. We'll let his body talk to us."
Staley noted James was injured against the Raiders but managed to finish the game.
"He wasn't 100 percent going into the game, that's for sure," Staley said. "I think that if you watch the tape, it would show you the same thing. He just battled it out for us.
"We're going to make sure that he gets the rest that he needs so that he can come back and finish the season strong," Staley added.
Staley also did not have an update on Joey Bosa, who remains on Injured Reserve with a groin injury, but noted the outside linebacker could return to practice soon.
"It's possible, but we'll let you know," Staley said. "We'll let you know as soon as possible."
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