Despite both teams averaging over 400 yards of offense the last two weeks, the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs enter Week 3 at 1-1, coming off one-score losses in Week 2.
With all that said, Sunday's divisional matchup at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium is shaping up to be a good one.
Here are the top takeaways from Thursday's press conference with Renaldo Hill, Joe Lombardi and Asante Samuel Jr.
Preparing for the Chiefs offense
Fresh off his first career interception and Pepsi Zero Sugar Rookie of the Week honor, Chargers' cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. has no time to re-live the moments from last week's game.
It's on to Kansas City.
With the focus fully on how to solve the problems the Kansas City Chiefs offense presents, Samuel Jr. talked about how he's preparing this week to face off against the Chiefs speedster wide receivers in Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman. For Samuel, it's important to keep the same mindset no matter the caliber receiver he faces.
"It's all about preparation," Samuel Jr. said. "If you prepare throughout the week and make sure you know your calls and you're supposed to be where you're supposed to be, then you'll be fine and just go out there and compete."
Samuel Jr. talked about how he's 'excited to compete' against a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes and is thankful for the challenge that this game presents.
For defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill, he talked about how the Chiefs offense can hurt you in a variety of ways besides just pure speed they have in the receiving corps.
To counter that, the Chargers are going to have to keep their eyes 'glued on a lot of people this week,' according to Hill.
"A lot of those jet-orbit motions they do, the timing motions," he said. "They try to get you with the eye candy. You have to have keys. That's what they try to do, they try to mess with your lens — try to get your eyes off of things that you shouldn't. We all have a responsibility in our scheme, and guys have to make sure they're not looking at the things they're not supposed to.
Hill explained the Chargers have to focus in on each and every play because once you get relaxed, that's when the Chiefs can strike.
Hill also talked about how he plans to defend the 'off-script' plays that Travis Kelce and Mahomes develop quite frequently, as Kelce recently discussed on Monday Night Football how he and Mahomes can ‘make [stuff] up’ when they're out there on offense.
"If you have that responsibility on [Chiefs TE Travis] Kelce, and you're matched on him, you can't get nosy looking at what [Chiefs QB] Patrick [Mahomes] is doing," he said. "Is he running around? That's my guy, I have to stay connected to him. Even if you are connected, he's trying to drill the ball in there, because he's trying to get it to his playmakers. We have to be aware. That has to be our intention on every play out there."
Lombardi on what he's seen from Justin Herbert in 2021
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert became the third quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards in a game 10 times throughout the first two seasons of his career. Herbert threw for 337 and 338 yards in Week 1 and Week 2 respectively and if he throws 300 yards or more in Sunday's game, he will set the all-time record for 300-yard games through the first two seasons of a career.
Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi talked about what he's seen from his quarterback over the first two weeks of the 2021 season.
"I think it's a combination that he plays outstanding in-structure," Lombardi said. "Meaning that, when the play works the way you want it to work, the ball gets out on time to the right receiver accurately. When there's a little bit of adversity, whether there's a rusher coming free or no one is open, he can buy time and make a big-time throw downfield — just that combination of playing within the offense when it's appropriate, but also, making a play when maybe we didn't dial up the perfect scheme. As time goes on, you just get more confidence and trust in the way he operates. He's kind of a great combination of those two things."
Going back to Lombardi's time with the New Orleans Saints just a season ago, he had an eye on Herbert. Lombardi recalled what he thought of Herbert when he heard the story of a rookie quarterback making his debut with no warning at all knowing New Orleans was going to face him a few weeks later.
"I just think that it says a lot about his natural feel for the game and his instincts," he said. "That guy didn't really have any practice reps that week to speak of. He was just kind of told the last minute to go out and play. Playing as well as he did, I think it tells you that he's just a natural. He has a natural feel for the game and is a competitor. As good as he is in practice that, gameday kind of brings out the best in him. Like I said, it was very impressive."
Now with Lombardi and Herbert as teammates this year against the Chiefs, he expressed that his offense has to have urgency when it comes to finding the end zone and can't trade in field goals for touchdowns.
On the flip side, Lombardi talked about the type of player that Chiefs' safety Tyrann Mathieu is, and discussed what challenges he gives opposing offenses.
"He just gets around the football and creates turnovers. Just a guy that you really have to be aware of. They have a number of good players. [Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Steve] Spagnuolo does a great job with them, just creating a bunch of different looks. He disguises things, a lot of pressure. It's a high-pressure defense that you really have to be on your 'A' game."
Odds and Ends
- Samuel Jr. talked about what it meant to win the Pepsi Zero Sugar Rookie of the Week Award: "It's definitely a blessing. I want to thank my family, my friends, my fans and Bolt Nation for helping me get the award. I couldn't have done it without them."
- On the challenge of being a rookie corner: "I'm a rookie, I am going to get tested to see if I'm supposed to belong here. I honestly think I am supposed to be here. I just have to prove it to the world, not myself."
- Renaldo Hill on cornerback Michael Davis' performance thus far this season: "He's our CB1 and he's been playing pretty well. I know the more and more he gets experienced with the scheme, and he can find out where to get his opportunities, he'll play more calmly. But he's doing everything we ask."
Check out the best photos from the Bolts Thursday practice at Hoag Performance Center.
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