Below are three takeaways from Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore, Chargers Defensive Coordinator Derrick Ansley and outside linebacker Khalil Mack following their media availability on Friday:
Moore set to face former team
Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore will see a lot of familiar faces on the opposing sideline when the game kicks off on Monday night.
The first-year Bolts play caller will call the plays against the team he started his coaching career with for the first time in his career, as he began his coaching career as the Cowboys quarterbacks coach in 2018 and went on to serve as the offensive coordinator for four seasons.
Moore spent a total of eight seasons in Dallas, including the final three years of his playing career, and built a number of relationships with staff and players throughout the organization.
"It's obviously fun," Moore said Friday about playing the Cowboys. "I spent eight years there so there's a lot of relationships you love and appreciate there, a lot of people you're close to and you'll be close to for a long time. It'll be fun to see all those people."
But Moore added that there is no extra motivation to win this game. And although he will get a chance to reconnect with people he spent a lot of time with, at the end of the day there's a football game to be played.
"No, obviously we're at 2-2, we've got an awesome game right here against a really good team that's played some really good football," Moore said. "Obviously, it's fun to see people that you spent a lot of time with in Dallas, but after that aspect of it you've just got to get to a football game.
"Everyone deals with these, players and coaches, everyone does," Moore added.
Check out the best photos from the Chargers Thursday practice at Hoag Performance Center.
Moore's familiarity with Dallas' personnel and the coaching staff, especially a Dallas defense he faced off against in many practices and training camps, certainly does have some value.
But overall, Moore noted that seeing the Dallas defense in previous years does not mean it's all stayed the same as things in the NFL change from year to year.
"I think every year is very different," Moore said. "People are going to continue to evolve, schemes evolve, schemes change. There's a lot of trends in this league so yeah, we get to overanalyze stuff over the week and then we get to football as we get closer to Monday.
"I think a lot of that stuff is pretty overrated," Moore added. "At the end of the day it's getting on the field and playing 11-on-11."
Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley echoed the sentiments on Thursday, as he added almost everyone in the league faces moments and games like these.
"It's just the game within the game," Staley said Thursday. "It's not uncommon in the league where you have matchups where you know the other side a little bit. Outstanding coaching staffs on both sides.
"But it's going to be about the players on the field, the players and how they play," Staley added. "There are going to be two good teams on that field on Monday night."
This week's game for the Bolts will obviously have a lot of different storylines, including Moore, but also comes at a time when the team was able to evaluate themselves — albeit a small sample size.
With the team coming off the bye week early in the season, Monday will be the chance for Moore's offense to get back out there and build off what they learned of themselves during the week off.
"It's a unique bye week because it's after four games, so numbers and stuff can be very misleading very quickly if you're only looking at a four-game sample size," Moore said. "But it gives you a sneak peak in the things that maybe you're doing well that you can continue to embrace, things you maybe need to focus on to improve.
"It's really, as everyone calls it a lot of times, the first quarter of the NFL season," Moore added. "I thought it was an awesome snapshot of where we are, and we were able to spend some time evaluating where we need to go and what we need to do."
Praise for Prescott
The Bolts defense have gone up some of the most experienced quarterbacks in the NFL so far — and another one awaits on Monday night with Dak Prescott under center for Dallas.
Prescott has seen just about everything in what is now his eighth season in the NFL. He is one of only seven current starting quarterbacks with over 100 games played under their belt, a list that also includes quarterbacks the Bolts have already faced like Kirk Cousins and Ryan Tannehill.
Going up against a veteran quarterback with the amount of experience Prescott shows up in a lot of ways according to Chargers Defensive Coordinator Derrick Ansley, as the defense will have to remain consistent throughout the good and bad.
"Adversity," Ansley said. "When you got a guy like Dak and Justin [Herbert]. that's played a lot of ball, Patrick [Mahomes] in [Kansas City] ... when those guys get in adverse situations, they don't really blink so as a defense we've got to keep playing.
"Something good happens, something bad happens, those guys continue to be the same guys and we've got to do a good job as a defense to continue being the same guys with the good and bad," Ansley added.
The Cowboys offense has had a lot of success throughout the last couple of years and still have some premier players, including an offensive line with some All-Pros on it in Zack Martin and Tyron Smith.
At the head of Dallas' offense is Prescott, and the Bolts defense knows they are going to have to play a full four quarters to try and limit everyone.
"It starts with the quarterback, Dak, everything goes through him," Ansley said. "He does a really good job controlling the pace, he does a really good job at the line of scrimmage getting them in and out of structures. The receivers are really explosive.
"It's going to be a big challenge for us, those guys have been really good for five years now, been consistent," Ansley added. "We've got to do a really good job of negating their firepower, staying on top of routes, tackling, hitting and then just playing our brand of ball."
Even with the Cowboys ups and downs early in the season, Chargers outside linebacker Khalil Mack knows what Prescott and the offense as a whole is capable of.
"Dak is a special player, just understanding his leadership qualities and his toughness," Mack said Friday. "Knowing what they're capable of, we have to be ready."
The Chargers and Hoag Cancer Institute partnered to host a breathwork and meditation class for breast cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones. Joined by players Derwin James Jr. and Nick Niemann, the group was welcomed to Hoag Performance Center to enjoy a morning of relaxation and mindfulness leading up to the team's annual Crucial Catch game.
Mack ready for repeat performance
Khalil Mack is coming off the best game of his career, a 6.0-sack performance that helped earn him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 4.
Instead of having a chance to immediately build off that, the Bolts outside linebacker then had a break due to the bye week.
Did the bye week come at a good time for Mack? Or no?
"I wouldn't know," Mack said with a smile. "Just getting ready for another one."
He later added: "That's my mission regardless. I love the game of football. It's about coming out here and getting better every day. Not worried about last game, just getting ready for the next one."
What Mack does know is that he and the rest of the Chargers front seven will be in for a tough test against a stout Cowboys offensive line that features the likes of Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and others.
"They've got a good group. It's going to be a challenge for us. How good? They're good."
He later added: "I know what we're preparing for. Not too much talking to be done. Just go to go out there and execute."
Mack's previous career high was 5.0 sacks in a single game, which he set in Week 14 of the 2015 season against the Broncos. He followed that up by getting on the state sheet with a sack of Aaron Rodgers.
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