State of the Defense
Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said he’s encouraged by what he saw from his defense last week.
“I thought we took strides,” Bradley said. “I think it really started up front though. The D-line played really well against the run. Not only did they take care of their responsibilities, but they got off blocks and made some plays.”
Handling Deshaun Watson
The Chargers’ defense will have to contain the Texans led by Deshaun Watson, a quarterback Bradley described as a “dual threat.”
"He’s always a threat to run the ball, so you have to account for him in the running game,” Bradley said. “Deshaun is a good thrower, really, really accurate (on) all levels of the field. He can make those throws, and he has a really good trust in his receiving corps too. You can be pressed on a receiver, but it doesn’t matter, he’s still going to try to go to him.”
Texans Receiver Corps
With 115 receptions, 11 touchdowns and 1572 total yards last season, DeAndre Hopkins leads a receiving corps that includes wide receivers Will Fuller and Kenny Stills.
“It is a challenge, they’ll take shots anywhere on the field," Bradley added (Fuller and Stills) are extremely fast, and then Hopkins is their talented receiver who is one of the best in the NFL… For us, it’s the ability to stay on top and try to eliminate some of these explosive plays that they are having.”
Next Man Up: Roderic Teamer
In order to protect against the Texans passing game, rookie Roderic Teamer will most likely see his first snaps for the Chargers at safety Sunday, according to Bradley.
“In OTAs, he really stood out because he seemed to be around the ball a lot,” said Bradley. “The ball finds him... (During games), he sits right up front by where (I am), taking meticulous notes… I think a guy like AP (Adrian Phillips) has helped him in that aspect."
Undrafted out of Tulane University, Teamer has leaned on Phillips, who also went undrafted, for advice.
“When I first got here, he was one of the first guys I was able to talk to,” Teamer said. He just told me about his journey and how he got here. He wasn’t a draft pick (and) he was cut a couple of times before, (so) he made sure he kept hitting the playbook. He told me, 'the more versatile you are, the more you know, you can’t be denied,’ so I just try to earn the coaches' trust in that way.”
“The ability for all of those safeties to give us the flexibility to mix and match, I think, is important,” said Bradley.
The Chargers' positional depth at safety will be tested with Phillips being placed on injured reserve Tuesday. However, Bradley is excited for his safeties to step up and make some headlines.
“I think when you have injuries like this it gives opportunities to guys and there’s going to be a story that takes place and I think that part of it is pretty cool.”
State of the Offense
Chargers offensive coordinator said that the Texans have had a good defense for a long time and identified linebacker Whitney Mercilus and defensive end J.J. Watt as standouts.
“(Mercilus) has really become a force off the edge out there,” Whisenhunt said, “and obviously (J.J.) Watt is playing at a high level, so you always have issues when you deal with this defense.”
Chargers Offensive Line
Whisenhunt said that the offensive line has had their “good moments” and been “effective in a lot of areas.”
“I don’t think we accept it as we’re great or really good by any stretch,” Whisenhunt said. “I think those guys are really working hard at continuing to get better.”
He said that this type of learning process is to be expected given the youth of the group and that the offensive line did “a really nice job” in the second half in Detroit.
Justin Jackson’s Development
Whisenhunt spoke about the development of running back Justin Jackson, who leads the NFL in yards per carry this season.
The offensive coordinator described Jackson as “versatile” and “smart” and complimented his “tremendous vision,” receiving skills, cut-making ability and on-field awareness.
“His first camp, he did nothing,” Whisenhunt said. “I didn’t even know who he was. At the end of camp, he flashed.”
Whisenhunt went on to say that Johnson continued to work hard and “never complained,” resulting in the performances we are seeing from him now.
“Then you were like, ‘Okay, I’m kinda excited to see him if he gets a chance,’” Whisenhunt said. “It’s great to see him continue to grow.”
Whisenhunt talked about wide receiver Keenan Allen, noting that he “understands and processes things very well.”
"When (Allen) sees things on the field, he knows what (defenses) are trying to do, and he can enact that physically,” Whisenhunt said.
The offensive coordinator added that Allen has “grown considerably.”
“I was here in ‘13 when he was drafted,” Whisenhunt said. “Where he is now compared to where he was then is quite significant. His change of direction, his (awareness), his sense of timing (have all improved).”
Last Week’s Offensive Performance
Despite scoring 10 points in Week 2, Whisenhunt saw positives from his team’s offensive performance.
“In the second half, we moved the ball as well as we’ve moved it,” Whisehunt said. “You just have to correct the mistakes that you made and keep going.”
He added that these mistakes won’t affect his team “from a confidence standpoint” nor will it “make them tentative.”
“That’s one of the things that’s the hardest about that game, (is) living with that,” Whisehunt said. “But it also motivates you to get it cleaned up and do better the next week.”