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Three Takeaways: How the Chargers are Building a 'Tough Team' As the Season Progresses

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Below are three takeaways from Monday's press conferences with Brandon Staley, Derwin James and Linval Joseph as they recapped the Chargers' Week 9 win over the Eagles.

Reflecting on Herbert's performance

Sunday's 27-24 win wasn't just a big moment for the Chargers as a team, it also proved to be a game where quarterback Justin Herbert got back on track in a big way with 356 yards, three total touchdowns, and an 84.2 percent completion percentage. In his 23rd start, Herbert became the first quarterback to reach 600 completions through 25 starts of a career.

After the game, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley talked about No. 10's ability to launch the ball downfield, specifically Herbert's 49-yard completion to Mike Williams. Staley said, "a mortal player doesn't make it look that easy." On Monday, the head coach elaborated on how important Herbert's talents are to the Bolts' offensive scheme.

"What we're trying to do is take full advantage of his gifts," Staley said. "And I think when you can access places on the field that some can't, you have to do that, you have to explore that. It opens up so much more for your offense and it really changes the way defenses play you and assess you. A strength of Justin's is his arm and accuracy in the deep part of the field. A strength of [WR] Mike Williams is his ability to judge and track it in the deep part of the field. Sometimes, a one-on-one down the field — even if he's not wide open, but if it's a one on one down the field — we feel like that is an advantage situation."

Herbert also showed off his mobility in Philadelphia with a rushing touchdown, while also completing throws on the run as well.

"Very big strength of his," Staley said of Herbert's mobility. "He's a very natural thrower on the move. He can throw it short and intermediate-deep, and right or left. He's a guy that can go either way with it, too. It's an advantage for us, for sure. We want to be able to do that with him because I know, defensively, the amount of pressure that it puts on you from an edge standpoint. Then, from a coverage standpoint, that second level, it really puts a lot of pressure on you to match things up off of the play-action pass."

Building a tough team

The Chargers have pulled off tight wins this season, with four of the team's five victories coming by a one-score margin. On Monday, safety Derwin James Jr. discussed the importance of finishing the game in Philly.

"We're a tough team," he said. "Being able to come back on the road against a tough team that just came off a big win against Detroit, I feel like it was a big win for us. We have a little momentum going into these next couple games. I feel like, as a team, we're playing complementary football. When the defense needed the offense to step up, they stepped up. When the offense needed us to get a stop, we got a stop."

Staley called the Bolts' Week 9 game a "tough, hard-fought" game, and explained the confidence a complete team win like that gives the Bolts moving forward.

"For our offensive line to respond like they did after two tough games," Staley said. "For our clutch players like [WR] Keenan [Allen], [RB] Austin [Ekeler], [WR] Mike [Williams]. For as many guys to touch the football in a game like that is a quality win for us. It does create confidence, and it was a complete effort by coaches and players. It was a Chargers win. That's what makes me excited as a coach."

Defense is finding their identity

The Chargers' improved run defense was also a topic during Monday's press conference with defensive tackle Linval Joseph. Joseph, who tied linebacker Drue Tranquil for a team-high nine tackles on Sunday, said it was important as a defense to come together and collectively stop the run, especially against NFC teams.

"In that conference, that's what they do," Joseph said. "They run the ball. If you can't stop the run, they're just going to keep running the ball. They're going to try and beat you to death. What we did yesterday is we stepped up and we stopped the run. We forced them to do something they didn't want to do. Hopefully, from that game, we all know now that when we come together and stop the objective, it puts us in a better situation to win games."

James Jr. talked about what a veteran player like Joseph brings to the defense and the team as a whole.

"I feel like he's one of the captains on the team and he's a vocal leader," James Jr. said. "He leads by example. I just saw him the other day getting a workout in the early morning. He's one of the first guys in there working out already, on the elliptical getting ready. To have a guy like that, to have his mindset to just keep going at his age and years in the league, it's incredible."

The Chargers face another talented run game this week headlined by Vikings running back and James' former teammate at Florida St., Dalvin Cook. James called Cook a "home-run hitter" and knows that the Bolts defense needs to be ready for a running back of his caliber.

Check out the best shots from the Chargers Week 9 road victory over the Eagles.

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