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Chargers Return Home for Monday Night Football

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The Chargers are back above .500 following their win over the Browns in Week 5.

With an extra day to prepare for the Broncos, the Bolts look to extend their winning streak to three games.

Here's a breakdown of news from the Chargers fifth week of the season:

Monday: Chargers evaluate themselves through five games

For the first time in this early season, the Chargers are enjoying back-to-back wins following their road in Cleveland.

This is the first time the Chargers have achieved back-to-back road wins since Weeks 1 and 3 of the 2021 season and more than a quarter of the way through the season, but Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley still sees some work to be done.

"We're a work-in-progress. There's been, I think, some really good games for us," Staley said during his day-after media availability. "Against Las Vegas and Kansas City, I thought we were outstanding in those games. I felt like, in the Jacksonville game, we were outstanding for a half, and then faded because we were on the field a lot. We just didn't have enough in the second half.

"I thought, in the Texans game, for three quarters, we were outstanding. The third quarter was not good enough. Then, in the Cleveland game, it was just up-and-down," Staley added. "There were some good moments in there, but it was inconsistent, for sure. Not good enough, overall."

Still, consecutive wins in the NFL is not easy, let alone consecutive wins on the road. The Bolts will revel in this close win, but not for long as the next game rapidly approaches.

"The fact that, just in general, that we have two in a row in the win column, especially on the road, it feels really good, man. It feels really good," running back Austin Ekeler said. "I try to ride the high of the win for like the day after, but then it's back to, 'All right, we have to do it again,' because next Sunday, no one cares what you did last Sunday. Everyone cares about what's upcoming."

Offensively, the running game saw their best game of the season so far, rushing for a season-high 238 yards.

On the defensive side, although they struggled to hold the Browns running game, they were able to stop the Browns from scoring in the fourth quarter. After some highs and lows, defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day thinks the defense has shown flashes of what it could be.

"For sure. We definitely see flashes of it, but I think the biggest thing in this league is about consistency. I think that's the biggest thing," Joseph-Day said. "I think that's what we're chasing right now. That's the beautiful thing about football, it's never a finished product."

"There's always ways you can improve, but I think at least we know as a defense that there are things that we definitely need to be more consistent in. That's what we're striving for," Joseph-Day added.

Tuesday: Ekeler, Staley get MMQB game balls for Week 5

A pair of Bolts were highlighted following their win in Cleveland, as their performance was key in the victory.

Monday Morning Quarterback's Michael Fabiano's pick for best performance of Week 5 went to none other than Austin Ekeler, who totaled 173 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Fabiano wrote:

Ekeler put a statistical shock into the Browns. For the second consecutive week, he put the Chargers and fantasy managers on his back. The talented runner rushed for 173 yards and one score while also posting four catches for 26 yards and a second touchdown in a 30–28 win over the Browns.

Staley was also awarded a game ball by MMQB writer Conor Orr. Orr was behind Staley's decision to go for it on fourth down late in the game.

Orr wrote:

His call to go for a fourth-and-1 against the Browns with 1:14 left in the fourth quarter, even if it didn't work out (and even if it wasn't the right play), was the right call from a mathematical standpoint. I am all for Staley doing what makes sense.

Wednesday: Prepping for Russell Wilson and the Broncos

The Chargers were back on the practice field on Wednesday in the lead up to their game against Denver.

For the first time as a member of the Chargers, cornerback Bryce Callahan will go up against his former team. Signed in the offseason, Callahan has shined on the field, playing at a high level through the first five weeks.

Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley talked about Callahan on Wednesday and how his presence and play has been great thus far.

"I think that he has been a real bright spot for our defense. He's been so consistent through five games. He's been able to go toe-to-toe," Staley said about Callahan. "I think that you saw the stats, the metrics of his coverage ability, and when he has been in coverage, what the completion percentage has been, and stuff like that."

"He's having an excellent year," Staley added. "That's how he's played. He's just brought that veteran presence. In today's NFL, when you play five DBs, your star is as important of a position as there is. Certainly glad to have him."

The Broncos come into SoFi with a record of 2-3, including a couple close losses. Although they are below .500, Staley believes that that is not a reason to underestimate them, as things could've been much different.

"I see a team that easily could be 5-0, real easily could be 5-0," Staley said. "They've played a good schedule early on. That's what I see. I see an offense that has a lot of weapons. When you start with their quarterback [Broncos QB Russell Wilson], he's a guy that I've had to face several times and a guy that has as good of a resumé as you can find. He has so much experience. He has seen and played in so many big games.

"He's going through that transition right now, too, of going to a new team, but he's still the same player, in terms of being dangerous every snap. He's a guy that is as tough of a cover as you're going to go against," Staley added.

Monday will mark the first time since November of 2018 that the Bolts will face off against Wilson, and the first he is a member of the Broncos. Despite some early struggles on offense, safety Derwin James, Jr. sees it in a different way and knows they will have to be prepared.

"I would say you can look at it one of two ways. I look at it as, they've been driving the field on a lot of teams," James said. "Whether it's fumbling the ball or throwing an interception, they've had a lot of chances in the red zone, I've seen that on film. They could easily be sitting at a different record, a few plays here and there.

"We just have to come out ready to play because [Russell Wilson] at the end of the day can still play at a high level. We all know that," James added.

Also on Wednesday, Chargers Senior Writer Eric Smith released his weekly mailbag focusing on the Chargers run game, the fourth-down decision on Sunday against the Browns and more.

Thursday: Looking at the Bolts offensive line

There was only walk-through on Thursday, as the team continue preparations for their division rival.

Only an estimation, the first injury report of the week came out for the Chargers with only tackle Trey Pipkins III (knee), wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) and kicker Dustin Hopkins (Right Quadriceps) being limited. The rest of the team was estimated to practice in full.

Smith examined each player on the Chargers offensive line on Thursday, as it has been one of the hardest hit positions in many different ways so far this season.

Smith wrote:

Through the first five games of 2022, the Chargers have endured some ups and downs in almost every aspect of their season.

There has been strong play for long stretches, and bumpy times at other points, but the general feeling is that the Bolts are headed in the right direction entering Week 6.

No unit might sum up the rollercoaster first five games of the season that the offensive line, which withstood injuries and inconsistent play to produce its best outing in Sunday's road win against the Browns.

Also on Thursday, Smith talked with running back Austin Ekeler in the lead up to the game versus the Broncos. To read to full feature, click here.

Check out the best photos of the Chargers Wednesday practice at Hoag Performance Center

Friday: Keeping the run game going

The Chargers will look to continue their success running the football as they go against a Broncos team that has given up 318 rushing yards in the last two games.

According to Chargers Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi, the success the team has had running the ball in the last two weeks does not guarantee anything. It's a clean slate entering Week 6.

"One thing I've learned in football is that every week is a process and you go through the process and you give everything you can to the planning and the practice and putting thought into it," Lombardi said. "Again, just because it worked on Sunday doesn't mean it will work this Sunday. We're back to square one every week."

With that aspect of the offense coming along in recent weeks, one other area that Lombardi would like to see improve is the red-zone offense, which ranks 21st in the league and converting a touchdown on 52.38 percent of their red-zone opportunities.

"I wish it were better. I think we've had chances. I always look at scheme versus execution," Lombardi said. "I think that we've put ourselves in some tough situations with some pre-snap penalties. Maybe some throws that could have been caught that were dropped. I think the process is good.

"I think it's going to pick up and we're going to feel better about it. When you get down there, you want to score touchdowns and not field goals," Lombardi added.

On defense, one of the major struggles has been limiting explosive plays, as the Chargers have given up some notable ones since Week 2. Still, Chargers Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill believes all of these plays are fixable.

"You find a silver lining in that it's all fixable," Hill said. "We got hit on a few plays, and everybody would want those back, but we know that it takes a complete unit in order for us to go out and execute, I think that's the one thing that we're finding as player and coach.

"It's important for us to keep going and attacking it out on the practice field," Hill added.

There were no changes to the injury report on Friday.

Members of the Broncos also talked about the Chargers and the challenges they present ahead of their Week 6 matchup. Check out what Denver said about the Bolts.

Saturday: Set for primetime

The Chargers wrapped up their final practice of the week on Saturday as they finished preparations for their only Monday Night Football game at home this season.

This will be the second primetime game against a division rival for the Bolts this season, but this time around, they will be at home.

Home-field advantage is already huge in the NFL, and Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley believes that division games make the magnitude of them that much bigger.

"Homefield is so important in the NFL and in your division, you have six of these games that are really tight, you know each other really well. They count for a lot," Staley said. "Anytime you can play teams the first time around, especially at home, you're going to try to take advantage of it."

"But anytime you play in a division like ours, every game no matter where it's played is going to be tight. That's why Monday night is going to be an exciting game," Staley added.

Quarterback Justin Herbert, who has won both his starts on Monday Night Football, knows that the Broncos will be a challenge and is looking forward to another opportunity to play the game.

"I think it's always a great opportunity to play football. Regardless of what day we play, I think it's a special time for us to go play football and it's obviously a really good team that we're up against, so we've had to have a good week of practice, good week of preparation to have any chance on Monday."

On Saturday's injury report, Herbert, guard Zion Johnson, wide receiver Joshua Palmer, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and Dustin Hopkins all practiced in full and were taken off the injury report. Center Corey Linsley did not practice with an illness, but was taken off of the injury report. Tackle Trey Pipkins III (knee) was listed as "QUESTIONABLE" and wide receiver Keenan Allen was listed as "DOUBTFUL".

Prior to Saturday's practice, Smith talked with Nick Kosmider, who covers the Broncos for The Athletic, to preview Sunday's game.

Also on Saturday, Smith released his Final Thoughts ahead of the game against Denver in primetime.

Check out the best photos of the Chargers Friday practice at Hoag Performance Center

Videos of the Week

Mic'd Up | Sebastian Joseph-Day

Chargers defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day was mic'd up during the Week 5 matchup vs the Cleveland Browns.

Playmakers Podcast | Mina Kimes Previews MNF Between Broncos-Chargers

ESPN's NFL Analyst Mina Kimes joins Hayley Elwood on the latest edition of Playmakers podcast to preview the Chargers Week 6 matchup against the Broncos on Monday Night Football.

Chargers Weekly | How the Bolts Can Beat the Broncos on MNF

Matt "Money" Smith and Chris Hayre are joined by The Athletic's Daniel Popper to recap last Sunday's win over the Browns and look ahead to Monday's game against the Broncos.

Between 2 Kegs | Kyle Van Noy vs. Shawne Merriman

On the second episode of season two of 'Between 2 Kegs', former Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman faces off against linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Watch to see who wins as they talk about some of the best and worst moments of their career, Kyle's days with the Patriots and much more.

Tweets of the Week

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