The phrase “football is family” is commonly heard in the NFL.
That certainly rings true for the Chargers.
With the team back in the building for Phase I of the offseason program, it’s more evident than ever before that the culture Head Coach Anthony Lynn started building upon his arrival in 2017 has once again carried over to 2019.
It’s a family culture; the type where players play for one another.
“This group is unique,” Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley said. “There are a lot of good guys and a lot of good players in the NFL, but how this group really cares and pulls for one another, that part of it is a little bit unique. They've picked up right where they left off.”
Though he’s only entering his second season, Justin Jones can attest to the bond on the team. In fact, he credits the veteran Bolts around him as being critical to his development during his first year as a pro.
“The guys on my team are great guys,” Jones described. “Just in general, great guys, even before on the field. I'm getting to know guys' families, like Denzel Perryman's family, Brandon Mebane's family. Just meeting everybody's (families), finding out who they are off the field. That helps out a lot when you're playing for them because you know who you're playing for and you know what type of guys you're playing with. It makes your comfort-level skyrocket.”
While he admits his collegiate team was close at N.C. State, it was different.
“When you're in college, the guys are forced to be there with you. You're forced to live with them. It's almost like you have no choice but to be brothers. Here, guys have the opportunity to hang out with each other, they have the option to hang out with each other, and they choose to rather than go home by themselves. Out here, they choose to be a team and be close together. They want to get to know your family and where you're from.”
As Jones discussed, it’s that want to be together that makes this team special. It’s also the want to play for one another. According to him, it’s the want and drive that comes from knowing the guys you’re lining up against that helps when you when tested between the white lines.
“(It’s) what I think pays off when it comes to playoff time and it comes to the tight games where we need to dig deeper. You wouldn't mind digging deeper for the guys that actually know you."