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5 Final Thoughts: Bolts Ready For Rebound Performance in Week 11


The Bolts are on the road Sunday against the Packers.

Here are five final thoughts ahead of Week 11:

1. Get back to .500

The Bolts are back at it Sunday against the Packers.

Chargers outside linebacker Joey Bosa on Friday summed up the season as a rollercoaster, noting how pairs of losses and wins have alternated each other for most of the season.

The Bolts, coming off a tough Week 10 loss to the Lions, will look to get back to .500 in Week 11.

"It's a rollercoaster every week and you can't let one loss define you," Bosa said. "And you can't let two wins the weeks before define you.

"You can't get a big head or get carried away or get lazy on the little things," Bosa added. "You just have to come to work every day and execute and stick to your routine."

The Chargers currently sit at 4-5 and in the bottom half of the AFC standings, outside of the playoffs looking in.

And while they can't get into a postseason spot with a win Sunday, they can certainly give themselves a chance to be in contention if they are victorious against Green Bay.

Offensively, the Bolts could try to take advantage of a Green Bay run defense that ranks near the bottom of the league.

But the bigger focus will be on the defense, which is looking for a rebound effort after a tough showing against Detroit.

"You have to move forward. You don't time to wait and dwell," said safety Derwin James, Jr. "You have to move forward. Green Bay is coming in ready to play, so we have to be ready to play.

He later added: "Anyone that has pride — my name is on it. Everyone's name is one it. I don't like the way it feels. Like I said, we'll get another opportunity this Sunday to change that. That's what we're looking forward to."

If the Chargers can get to 5-5, they will have positioned themselves for a run at the postseason in the final stretch of the season.

Week 11 awaits in Green Bay.

2. Excel in the red zone

The Bolts offense was humming Sunday, putting up a season-high 38 points along with their third 400-yard effort of the year.

One reason for the explosive point total?

The Chargers were perfect on three trips inside the red zone, and now rank second in the NFL in red-zone success rate at 72.4 percent.

"A big emphasis on it. We talked about it a lot this offseason, talking about how we need to go score touchdowns in the red area," said Justin Herbert. "That's the most important thing for putting up points in this league and being able to eliminate turnovers and create those explosive plays.

"As long as we're able to do those things, we're going to be able to move the ball and score points in the red zone," Herbert added. "It was a big emphasis this offseason and continuing to talk about it, week in and week out, I think that has helped us."

Of the 27 total touchdowns scored by the Bolts this season, 21 have come from inside the 20-yard line. Herbert has thrown for 13 scores down there while the Chargers have found the end zone eight times on the ground.

"I think that we've had good balance of run and pass. I feel like we've been able to get that run game going, direct with Austin [Ekeler]," said Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley. "I think, in the passing game, Justin has really been able to get all five guys in the pattern and he's made good decisions down there, big plays for us."

The Packers will counter with a solid red-zone defense that ranks 10th overall and has allowed touchdowns just 48.3 percent of the time.

Green Bay's red-zone offense, however, has been among the worst in the league at just 46.9 percent, which ranks 27th among all teams. The Chargers red-zone defense is tied for 15th at 52.9 percent.

"We could always be better there," said Chargers Defensive Coordinator Derrick Ansley. "We pride ourselves on being tight down there and making guys throw it in, not run it in.

"I think that we've done a good job in some spots. There's always room for improvement," Ansley added. "But, we have the right guys, the right focus. We'll continue to coach it down there."

The Bolts could gain the upper hand on the scoreboard Sunday if they can win on both sides of the ball inside the 20-yard line.

3. Break a big one

Derius Davis stole the show in Week 9 with an 87-yard punt return for a score against the Jets.

The Bolts rookie said this week that while he would like to score again, he can't start pressing and trying to do too much.

"I don't want to be too anxious because I don't want to go out there and do something that I'm not accustomed to doing," Davis continued. "It's most definitely made me get that feeling like I want to score another one, but me personally that's my mindset anyways every single time I get an opportunity to go out there and catch a punt."

He later added: " I could've easily just say I got a touchdown and stop working on my fundamentals, but each day you have to come out to practice just doing the little things as far as technique-wise."

Davis' standout rookie season has helped the Chargers rank second in the NFL in punt return average at 16.2.

There's a chance the Bolts could be in line for a big return or two, as Green Bay ranks 30th by allowing 13.7 yards per punt return.

"They get down the field well. They have really good gunners, guys with speed," Davis said. "But at the end of the day it's all on us.

"It's just playing our technique and going out there with everybody on the same page and me just being back there having confidence," Davis said, "securing the ball, having confidence in my teammates and them having trust in me. Just going out there and doing what we do."

On the flip side, the Bolts will need to be wary of Green Bay's Keisean Nixon, who averages 10-plus yards per return.

Check out the best photos from practice on Thursday at Hoag Performance Center.

4. The little details

The Chargers have played well enough to win at different points this season.

But they are still looking for consistency in all three phases as we prep for the home stretch of the 2023 season.

The Bolts can get going in that direction Sunday by focusing on the little details, which in the NFL means penalties and turnovers.

"Fundamentals, we always start with it," Staley said. "Every single meeting, every single practice."

Entering Week 11, the Bolts are tied for the third-fewest penalties at 48. Green Bay, meanwhile, is tied for 27th with 65 total penalties.

If the Bolts don't beat themselves, and the Packers continue their flag-happy ways, the Chargers could come out on top.

Winning the turnover battle will also play a part in this, too.

The Chargers are tied for the league's third-best turnover margin at plus-8, while Green Bay's minus-4 mark is tied for 24th.

The Bolts have committed just seven giveaways in 2023, the fewest in the league. And the Packers have forced just eight takeaways, tied for the 29th-worst mark.

The Chargers defense is tied for ninth with 15 takeaways, while Green Bay's 12 giveaways are tied for 13th.

The Bolts could be opportunistic against Packers quarterback Jordan Love, whose 10 interceptions are tied for the second-most in the NFL.

"A really athletic player. He makes a lot of big plays," Staley said of Love. "This is his first year starting, but we have a lot of respect for him.

"The tape says that he can make a lot of plays. He has done that against a lot of quality defenses," Staley added. "We're going to have to be ready to play."

5. Embrace the environment

Save for punter JK Scott — who used to play for the Packers — nobody on the current Chargers roster has played at Lambeau Field more than the eight times Eric Kendricks has.

Kendricks, who is in his first season with the Bolts, spent the first eight seasons of his NFL career with the Vikings, who reside in the same division as Green Bay.

"I feel like it's just one of the Meccas of football," Kendricks said of Lambeau Field. "When you think about the NFL and the history of football, Lambeau's got to be somewhere in there.

"The Lombardi Trophy, it all kind of correlates, so it's just one of those stadiums you've got to play in and enjoy the atmosphere," Kendricks added. "Obviously it's been an away game every time, but I still enjoy playing there."

Khalil Mack has played at the iconic venue four times. Josh Harris has suited up there three times. A few other have been there for a playoff game.

But there are plenty of Chargers who will be making their first trek to Green Bay.

"Obviously, that's a cool field to play on," said rookie Quentin Johnston. "A little slippery though, so we've all got the screw-on cleats on. They're a little bit thicker so we'll have a little bit more grip on the turf."

Herbert will also be playing at Lambeau Field for the first time in his career.

"I think Lambeau will be really cool. I think that's always been on there," Herbert said of a list of places he'd like to play at. "I'm just hoping for a nice weather day.

"Obviously, you have to be prepared for anything, but there's just something about Lambeau and the history behind that and the teams that they've had," Herbert added. "We have a ton of respect for them and that's definitely one of those places that would be up there."

Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-to-low 40s Sunday afternoon.

Was Herbert wishing for a snow game?

"You can do that on Madden," Herbert said with a laugh.

Jokes aside, Kendricks and Mack echoed the same sentiment about playing at Lambeau Field.

Have fun with it early but also focus on the task at hand.

"Just soak it in. Obviously, you go to pregame warm up, I tell them soak it in and enjoy where you're at, but we have a job to do," Kendricks said. "Get all of those feelings out pregame and when we first get there because when it comes to the game, we have to settle in and worry about playing football."

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