The theme of Philip Rivers' Monday press conference was written across the hat he's seldom seen without:
Nunc Coepi, Latin for, "now I begin."
It's a phrase that's as synonymous with Rivers as the lightning bolt he's worn on his helmet for 15 NFL seasons. With Year 16 on the horizon, Rivers spoke with the assembled media for the first time since January 14, 2019 – the day after losing to the New England Patriots 41-28 in the AFC Divisional Round.
Each season is a blank canvas. While acknowledging disappointment in how things ended last winter in Foxborough, Rivers was quick to point to the positives that can be applied to 2019.
"This team, for a lot of the guys [it was their] first playoff experience," he said. "[We] went on the road and won in Baltimore and then went to New England – which we know what they've done over the last decade-plus. So, I think we've got some valuable experience and now we can use that moving forward into this year."
The Chargers finished 12-4 last season, the franchise's best record since Rivers led a 13-3 campaign in 2009. A playoff win is certainly a feather in the cap, but perhaps the course of last January could have been different had Los Angeles found a way to win the AFC West.
Even in a regular season that included an 8-0 record outside of LA, Rivers admitted there were opportunities left on the field that could have ultimately given the team home-field advantage throughout last season's AFC playoffs. He said the team's first goal is winning the division.
Culture and continuity can only help to check that box.
"We all know what to expect," Rivers said. "We all know how we communicate. We all know we have a lot of game experience together in this system. All those things help. … I think, really, the progress we made with this staff, [Head] Coach [Anthony] Lynn in his third year, the vision, I think, is clear. How we operate, how we practice, all those things now are crystal clear and that certainly helps you focus on the ... details."
When asked about the process of preparing for another season, Rivers said being with his teammates is what makes these in-between months fun. He specifically mentioned the core players he's worked with over the last several years that have transitioned to experienced veterans.
He also acknowledged that the offseason is the start of something new. Camaraderie and togetherness have to be recreated.
You must begin again.
"You can't spend all [of] the next eight months talking about trying to win the Super Bowl," he said. "Let's enjoy, let's try to get better today at this. … The more we can be short-term in our focus and enjoy that, and work at that and focus on that, then we ultimately know what we're shooting for in the long-run."
Rivers on rookie QB Easton Stick
For the first time since 2013, the Chargers drafted a quarterback.
North Dakota State's Easton Stick was selected in the fifth round (No. 166 overall). The quarterbacks room will look different for Rivers, who will welcome both Stick and veteran Tyrod Taylor into the mix.
Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and Quarterbacks Coach Shane Steichen both told Rivers that they were impressed by the rookie, who went 49-3 during his college career.
"It will be good to have a young guy in there that, from everything you hear and everything that he says, is hungry and eager to learn and work," Rivers said. "We'll have a lot of fun and he'll fit right in with us."
Chargers rookie minicamp commences on Friday.
On practicing against Thomas Davis
When linebacker Thomas Davis arrived to Los Angeles, he said he was excited for spirited practices against Rivers, as both veterans are known to talk a bit on the practice field.
It only took until Phase 2 of offseason workouts for Rivers to strike first.
"I was just having a little fun," Rivers said. "They've gotten the best of us a few times when he was in Carolina. We would have a little bit of that banter in the games. It'll be fun in the practice. I've heard he gets after it pretty good in the practice, so it'll be fun having another defensive guy."
Rivers said the addition of the 15-year veteran brings another experienced, productive leader to the locker room.
"He's been an unbelievable player in this league," Rivers said of Davis. "… Seeing him early on as a teammate, he's going to be a great addition. Not only does he have a lot in the tank in between the lines, but when you get guys like that, a [Brandon] Mebane that we got a few years ago, a [Mike] Pouncey — those guys are still big-time players for us, but they also bring a great deal to the locker room from a leadership standpoint, in the meeting rooms [and] on the field – just guys that have been players and proven winners for a long time. I was excited when we got him."