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'We've Got the Guys': Justin Herbert Looks to Get Chargers Offense in High Gear

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Below are three takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, quarterback Justin Herbert, safety Derwin James, Jr., and linebacker Kenneth Murray, Jr. following their media availability on Wednesday:

Bolts offense looking for consistency

As the Chargers enter Week 8, their offense ranks fifth overall in the league in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play at 0.067.

Looking at more traditional stats, the Bolts are eighth in yards per game (364.2) and are tied for 11th at 24.0 points per game.

But despite the seemingly strong numbers, Justin Herbert and his teammates know the unit can find another gear.

"We've got to get this thing going and we know we've got the guys to get it done," Herbert said Wednesday.

The Chargers have scored 48 total points in the first halves of their past three games, but just 10 combined points after halftime.

Herbert said the offense's main focus right now is playing consistent for 60 minutes to try and mesh with a Bolts defense that is also looking for a full-game performance.

"There were some good things but there are things we can definitely improve in," Herbert said. "It's tough because we haven't been our best. We have to be realistic and be real about it, but I know we've got the ability to play really good football.

"It's a bummer where it hasn't worked out for us so far where the offense hasn't played great when the defense is playing great," Herbert added. "It's on us to be more consistent. It's a tough situation but we've got the guys and are continuing to work. We just have to find a way to make it work."

Herbert said Wednesday that it's on everyone, including himself, to step up. That group includes center Will Clapp, who is starting in place of Corey Linsley, and rookie wide receiver Quentin Johnston, who has taken on a bigger role with Mike Williams out for the year.

"It's definitely tough losing two guys like that," Herbert said of Linsley and Williams. "They're about as good as it gets. They're veterans in this league who have had a lot of success, so anytime you lose a guy like Mike or Corey it's going to be tough.

"We're thankful for the guys that have stepped up and we're thankful for the guys we have behind them," Herbert added. "We've got complete faith and confidence in those guys, especially Will and Q, so it's been good to see those guys step up."

The Chargers next challenge is a Chicago defense that has allowed 235 yards or less in the past two games while also forcing four total takeaways.

"They've been able to force some turnovers," Herbert said of the Bears. "They've done a really good job of getting after the passer and have some athletic guys on that side of the ball.

"Really well-coached so we've been watching a lot of film to get ready for it," Herbert added.

As for Herbert's finger injury on his non-throwing hand, the quarterback said Wednesday that the issue continues to progress.

"Every day it's getting better," Herbert said. "We're coming up on four weeks so just doing what I can to limit the pain and make sure I'm out there being safe."

Herbert also shared a nugget from Sunday's game that gave a glimpse into what he's been battling.

The quarterback said that he was wearing a triple XL glove but had the left middle finger of that glove removed and replaced with a quadruple XL piece so that a cast would fit inside of it.

But the glove and the cast were both ripped off when he went to make a routine handoff against the Chiefs.

Herbert got it fixed up after a drive and didn't miss a play, but showed some humor in describing the moment.

"The glove part came off, not my middle finger," Herbert cracked with a smile.

The Chargers and Bears kick off at 5:20 p.m. (PT) from SoFi Stadium on Sunday Night Football.

Prepping for Bagent

When looking at the Bears offense, the Chargers are preparing for a different offense than one they were expecting when the schedule was announced.

With regular starting quarterback Justin Fields working his way back with a thumb injury, it's rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent who is in line to take the snaps under center on Sunday Night Football.

Bagent, a rookie undrafted free agent from Division II Shepherd University in West Virginia, worked his way up the Bears depth chart with his preseason performance, ultimately grabbing the backup spot.

And with Fields leaving the game two weeks ago, Bagent has taken the reins in his absence, leading Chicago to a Week 7 home win.

"I saw a winning performance," Staley said about Bagent's start in Week 7. "I thought he played really well, I thought operated the offense, did exactly what Luke [Getsy] was asking him to do. I thought he played with a lot of confidence, you could see as the game went on he played with more and more confidence and made more and more plays.

"They operated their offense, they did not keep anything simple for him, I feel like they ran the offense that they believe in and again, it was winning performance," Staley added.

The Harlon Hill Trophy winner in 2021 (given to the DII MVP), Bagent had a successful career at Shepherd, racking up many accolades throughout his time there.

And in the preseason, Bagent played 70 total snaps for the Bears, finishing 20 of 29 for 165 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Staley and the Chargers are well-aware of Bagent, and know that the Division II label does not account for the talent he's shown he has.

"I think at the quarterback position, the position itself, tough to make it in the NFL. There's that old saying, 'If you're good enough, the NFL will find you'. This guy is one of the most decorated college players regardless of the level, he was a record-setting quarterback and accomplished a lot as a quarterback."

"I thought he came in the Minnesota game and played a quality game too and gave their team a chance to win in that game," Staley later added. "And then in the preseason, certainly he had to beat a lot of people out to become the second quarterback for Chicago. He has our full respect."

Bagent's first career start was not high-flying, but it was efficient. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown.

While there is a limited body of work for the team to prepare with, Bagent having one start does give the Bolts a good idea of what to expect from the rookie quarterback.

"I think just think you have a little bit more inventory, a bigger body of work on the player," Staley said. "To see him have a full start against a quality team, a team that we know, gives you a sense of the menu they're willing to give him.

"Then, I think you get a really good sense of his overall ability, his athleticism, pocket presence, arm strength, all that good stuff," Staley added. "Again, a big win for them at home versus the Raiders and the Raiders were coming off that big win, so it was a team that was playing well. For them to play like that, it was a winning performance for him."

Linebacker Kenneth Murray, Jr., added: "It's the same approach. Obviously, we've seen him play last week, we just try to go out there and prepare the best we can and fly around. I think at the end of the day, watching film is great but it comes down to fundamentals, locking in on your keys and going out there and playing sound football. I think as long as we continue to harp on that and focus in on that, we'll be good."

Fresh start to the week

The term 'reset' has been used early in this week as the Bolts look to rebound from a 2-4 start — and it began Wednesday on the practice field as the team began their new week.

And the team attacked it hard, having a energetic, yet focused, practice to start the game week.

"We're six games into it and we've got 11 left for sure," Staley said. "That's what we need to focus on, it's what's in front of us, not what's behind us.

"I thought we had a good practice today," Staley added. "It was fresh, it was focused, guys had the right mindset."

The NFL season will always have its ups and downs, but it's about how the team adjusts to these stretches.

Getting off to a good start on the practice field was crucial step in trying to improve according to Staley, as he was pleased with the way the team took the field Wednesday.

"The NFL is about making adjustments," Staley said. "There's going to be a stretch like this at some point in your season, what I've learned is every time you start an NFL season or head towards one, there's going to be a point where you need to make adjustments.

"We're at a point right now where we have to perform better, but it really starts in practice," Staley added. "I like what I saw out there today."

Focusing on the present is something heard a lot but as Murray echoed, it's the only way to make sure the team can get the details right that can help turn it around.

"I feel like that's exactly how you have to be. Just try to take everything one thing at a time, one evolution at a time," Murray said. "When you start to do that and really focus in on the little details of everything, that's when you start to have success and stuff like that.

"That's our mentality and we've got to stick to it," Murray added. "No matter what, just taking it one day at a time, one practice at a time and on Sunday the mission is to get a W and getting that done."

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