As the Chargers and Chiefs head into Week 3 after tough losses, the Bolts know the challenge that lies ahead. Head coach Brandon Staley, quarterback Justin Herbert and safety Nasir Adderley talked about how the Bolts are preparing to face their first divisional opponent of the 2021 season.
From defending Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, to Adderley's growth early in the season, and high praise for the Bolts' rookie corner, Asante Samuel Jr., here are three takeaways from Wednesday's press conference.
Chargers talk preparing to face Chiefs: 'it's a great opportunity for us'
A big emphasis for the Chargers this week has been to focus on fundamentals and technique in order to avoid penalties that were a huge factor against Dallas last Sunday. The Bolts have a big opportunity ahead in Week 3 as they travel to Kansas City to face Patrick Mahomes and company. Like the Chargers, the Chiefs are coming off a tough late game loss, falling to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football. Staley explained his mentality when it comes to facing a team that's coming off a loss.
"You have to treat each game like it has a life of its own," Staley said. "I think that you look at the game that they just played and assessed what happened, just like we did. Whether you win or you lose, there's a lot to unpack in every game. They played a really good team on the road. Things like that happen in the NFL."
Another point of emphasis for the Chargers this week has been on tackling and tuning things up in the run defense, whether that's containing the running back or the mobile QB. Staley explained a factor they have their eye on that plays into Mahomes' game and how important it will be to limit the yards after the catch when it comes to the talented list of receivers the Chiefs have. When it comes to the Chargers defense, positioning is everything when it comes to defending a 'dynamic' team like the Chiefs.
"Patrick is really strong," he said. "I don't think that he gets enough credit for that. He's really, really strong, physical for the position. He's really tough to tackle, too, because he's elusive and really strong — definitely an important point. Certainly, we didn't tackle well enough last week against a really quality team. That's going to be a really big point of emphasis, [and] eliminating those yards after the catch."
Herbert talked about the challenges the Chiefs defense presents, but the second-year quarterback is ready to go into 'a hostile environment and play our football.'
"That's the tough part about playing offense, and you have to be prepared for all of that," Herbert said of the Chiefs' defensive scheme predicated on disguise. "You have to go back, and our coaches have done a great job of having a protection plan so far. [C] Corey [Linsley] and those guys up front have handled it really well. I'm looking forward to that challenge this week. They're an incredible defense."
Staley wrapped up his time with the media explaining that Wednesday's practice will really focus on execution and playing 'clean' football.
Adderley's development in the Chargers defensive scheme
Going back to Week 1, Staley has talked highly about safety Nasir Adderley's growth this season. Earlier in the week, Staley said he thought Adderley was a 'bright spot' of the Chargers' game vs. Dallas. Adderley led the team in tackles with nine total and was on the field for every defensive snap.
Adderley relishes being the last line of defense when he's on the field and talked about what's helped him make that jump on and off the field.
"I'm learning a lot, seeing a lot of different looks; definitely fortunate about that," he said. "Last game, we had 62 snaps that we played on defense. I am learning a lot, and I love playing in this defense, it allows me to be very active. I'm just going to keep trying to learn as much as I can to get better every week."
A big part of learning more is figuring out the way you learn best and for Adderley, doing just that has helped him to be a better safety.
"I'm a very visual learner so even in the meeting rooms I've just been using what has worked for me and it's working out really well," he said. "I'm seeing a lot of things, a lot of checks and stuff that need to be made. So, I'm just trying to get better at that as we go."
In the NFL, plays can be made at any moment, and Adderley explained a big part of handling that on defense is what you do after the play happens that helps you grow as an athlete at your respective position.
"I notice in that first game [against the Washington Football team] my leverage was off, I was on [TE Logan Thomas'] back hip so I couldn't really see the ball at all. But next time when I did get that situation, I was able to get in front of him and make [Dak Prescott] kind of elevate his throw so that was definitely a plus, I just have to figure out a way to come down with that."
Asante Samuel Jr.'s 'Got real toughness, real instincts'
Chargers' rookie cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. shined against the Cowboys bringing in his first interception of his career agaisnt Dallas. You could say getting interceptions runs in the family as his dad, Asante Samuel amassed 51 career interceptions of his own throughout his 11-year career in the NFL.
On Wednesday, Staley talked about the type of player Samuel Jr. has been for the Chargers and how his skills have shined beyond the flashy pick.
"I'm really impressed with Asante Samuel Jr.," Staley said. "He looks like he belongs out there, you know you can really measure him when he's going nose to nose with somebody really good…you can measure Asante less on the interception, which is fantastic, but more on a nose-to-nose play, where it's deny the ball down on a third-down or a fourth-down vs. Amari Cooper, or the red area in the middle part of the endzone. When you're nose to nose with a premium player, with a 100-million-dollar receiver how are you playing?"
Samuel Jr. was able to handle whatever was thrown his way as he went up against the Cowboys' top receivers. Staley explained how impressed he was with the rookie's ability to compartmentalize and move on after Samuel Jr. gave up a pass on a 'triple-cut' route from wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.
"What happened after that 14-yard play was he got right back in the huddle and kept playing and that's what we need from him," he said. "We really like coaching the guy, he's got real toughness, real instincts."
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