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Why Chargers Players Are Excited For Interim Head Coach Giff Smith in His New Role

Giff 12.19

The Bolts hit the practice field for the first time Tuesday as they now begin preparations for Saturday night's game against the Bills.

It was Chargers Interim Head Coach Giff Smith's first chance to lead the team on the field, and players were excited for the longtime coach in his new role.

Here is what members of the Bolts had to say about Smith as he begins as the team's interim head coach:

Safety Derwin James, Jr.

Smith's message to the team:

"That we're going to stick together. Control what we can control. As a team, I feel like everyone knows who Giff is, we all look to him as a leader. Like I've said he's going to do a great job."

Describing Smith:

"He's a dependable guy. He's a straight-forward guy, a straight honest guy. Like I said, he's a guy that we all know very well, especially guys like [WR] Keenan [Allen] and [OLB Joey] Bosa, some of the guys that have been here. He's a great leader."

Quarterback Easton Stick

Smith's message to the team on Monday:

"That we're going to go through this thing together. That we're a team, we're going to stick together. That was the perfect message because that's all there is. We understand where the situation is and where we're at in the season. It's really tough, it's tough on everybody, but it's where we're at and this is who we have — and we're good enough, so we're going to go out there and fight."

Describing Smith:

"Giff is great. He has been here a long time. This place matters to him. People in the building know him, and they know him well. They know that he cares. Sometimes, as a position coach, it's easy to kind of lock in on your group, and there's a reason to do that, but Giff has one of those personalities that has a relationship with everybody, and that's going to serve him really well. Guys are looking forward to playing for him."

The Los Angeles Chargers today named Giff Smith Interim Head Coach and JoJo Wooden Interim General Manager for the remainder of the 2023 season.

Running Back Austin Ekeler

His relationship with Smith given he was with the team when he entered the NFL:

"He's been a guy that's been here since I've been here as well. Another guy I have a ton of respect for as a man to man and has always been here to help me pick me up, open-door policy with me. We've had some talks just about life at the lunch table, so for him to come and be in this leadership role now and seeing that expressed, where he's got some of that old-school mentality. Making sure that everything is on time and he wants everything buttoned up… We're seeing that spilled into the leadership and he's putting pressure on us, which hey, we'll take it."

Linebacker Eric Kendricks

Smith's first message to the team:

"We're trying to win these games. Obviously, it's a big change but the goal is still to win games."

His relationship with Smith in his first year with the Chargers:

"I've gotten to know him a lot this year. Great coach, great mindset, great attitude. I think the players will rally for sure."

Outside Linebacker Tuli Tuipulotu

Smith's first message to the team:

"Just got to keep fighting. We got three games left, nothing else for us to do but to keep fighting and keep playing. Nothing new, we can't do anything too different. We're just going to keep playing, keep fighting."

What stands out about Smith as a coach:

"I think the good thing that he's always done, even before he became the interim [head coach], is that he had a good relationship with everybody. Saying hi to everybody, checking up on everybody, how they're doing. I think that just built on his relationship with everybody and made it easier to buy in to him and listen to what he says. I think he's doing a great job creating a relationship with everybody."

Guard Jamaree Salyer

What Smith told the team:

"He just kept things pretty simple, that we're going to play hard, we're going to play fast, we're going to play physical. We're going to practice the same way. Obviously he wants everything to be done the right way and that was his big message to the team. We're going to try to win these last three game, we're not playing for draft picks or anything like that. He said we're going to do things the right way. I'm excited about it."

What he noticed from Smith from afar:

"He knows what his vision is for the team, he's very confident in it. And he wants to try and do everything he can so he can make sure what he sees for our team comes to life. I think he's our longest tenured coach here, he's seen the good, the highs and the lows. He kind of has an idea about what Chargers football can be."

Wide Receiver Joshua Palmer

What Smith told the team and his interactions with him before:

"That we're going to play with a lot of energy, have fun, win these last three games. [I would talk to him] whenever we would walk through the hallways, but then he was the edge coach, so we barely even talked in terms of football. But we are getting a little taste of him now as a head coach and we get to interact with him more because he's not in one room."

Running Back Joshua Kelley

On Smith:

"He set his principles down: be on time, do right and that we're going to play with energy. We were all like, 'Alright, bet.' We're all pros here so we can show up on time, show up with the right attitude and have some energy."

On his relationship with Smith:

"I've been with him for four years and he's a good dude. We've talked many times. Every conversation with him is just genuine. When he's talking to you, he wants to know how you're doing, how your family is, all that. He's cool people, man. I'm really happy for him that he's getting this opportunity because he's been coaching for so long. It's cool for him to be in the position. And guys in this locker room respect him."

Long Snapper Josh Harris

Smith's first message:

"I think it was pretty much the same, we've got three games left in the regular season and we're going to go out there and put our best foot forward to try and win these games. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to the organization, to the fans to go out there and put our best foot forward."

What he knows about Smith:

"He's an incredible human being. Whether it's on the field, off the field, he knows what it takes to be successful in this business. He knows what it means to play professional football. He expects us to do our jobs and I know he'll be prepared on his end as well. He's a tremendous person as a whole and I'm excited for the opportunity that he gets to go out there and coach us for the last few games."

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