State of the Offense
Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt highlighted the “fairly consistent play” of the Bolts offense that ranks fifth in net yards per game in his weekly address.
“We’ve had our share of explosive plays, we’ve moved the ball at times, we’re decent on third down, and (we’ve been) pretty good in the red zone,” Whisenhunt said. “We got a lot of (offensive) guys who are doing good things, and everybody’s contributing.”
Team chemistry has been helped, he said, by "the other guys” stepping up when starters have been sidelined.
Whisenhunt said that Melvin Gordon “looks good” and that he’s happy to have him back in the fold.
“He’s done a really good job with how he’s interacted with the team and just gone about his business,” Whisenhunt said. “Guys were happy to see him, (and) he’s genuinely happy to be back...It’s great to have another player we feel can help us.”
Whisenhunt said that he thinks Gordon could have contributed against the Dolphins if the Chargers needed him. Now a week later, Gordon has had reps dedicated to him, as opposed to the scout team reps he had last week.
The offensive coordinator credited Bolts running backs coach Alfredo Roberts for spending a lot of time working on protections and assignments with the running backs and said that this has yielded positive results.
As for two-tailback formations, Whisenhunt said that it’s nice to have that option.
“When we’re at our best, we’re constantly changing (the offensive play calling),” Whisenhunt said. “But it’s really nice to have (versatile) guys, because it gives us more flexibility.”
Whisenhunt said he has been impressed with how quickly tight end Lance Kendricks has been able to contribute and that this has been aided by his veteran status in the league.
“He’s a talented player, and he certainly helped us out (against the Dolphins),” Whisenhunt said. “He caught a big third-down pass.”
Regarding his quarterback Philip Rivers, Whisenhunt said, “Philip just sees the field so well...He’s just so accurate when he’s in the pocket under duress.”
When asked about the Broncos who loom Sunday, Whisenhunt said he has a lot of respect for the team and head coach Vic Fangio.
“I think they’re a good football team, especially just looking at (their defense),” Whisenhunt said.
The offensive coordinator described the Broncos defense as “very disciplined” and said “they understand their scheme and they’re playing it well.”
Whisenhunt mentioned that the Broncos interior line is playing well and highlighted Denver linebacker Von Miller as “the best in the business.” He was also impressed with Broncos cornerback Chris Harris’ knowledge of the game from talking to him at the Pro Bowl last year.
“I have a lot of respect for them and certainly don’t take them for granted at all,” Whisenhunt said.
Whisenhunt also spoke about the boost last Sunday’s 10:33-minute drive gave the Chargers.
“Just to have that long of a drive, to take that kind of time off the board, to convert those third downs, that’s a big deal,” Whisenhunt said. “I think it goes towards confidence for your team, and it’s pretty rewarding for the group.”
Finally, Whisenhunt complimented offensive line coach Pat Meyer, calling him “a tremendous technician” and “very open-minded.” Whisenhunt said Meyer’s detail-oriented approach has paid dividends with the team’s young offensive line. The offensive coordinator added that a “flexibility of thinking” that stems from Anthony Lynn pervades the Bolts coaching staff.
State of the Defense
Speaking on the Chargers’ upcoming matchup against the Denver Broncos, whose total offense ranks 18th in the NFL (349.2 yards-per-game), defensive coordinator Gus Bradley identified wide receiver Courtland Sutton and quarterback Joe Flacco as standout players for the team.
“Sutton has really been coming on for them,” Bradley said. “(They) have a lot of confidence in getting the ball to him (and) Joe Flacco is doing a good job. You can see that they fit to his strengths. If they get a lot of possessions, they’ll get a lot of points.”
The likes of Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders will be introduced to rookie safety Roderic Teamer, who Bradley says made improvements in last week’s game against the Dolphins.
“There was a seam route they ran and (Teamer) covered it and did a great job on it,” Bradley said. “Those are signs right there that he’s understanding the position more. We still have to challenge him because there’s things he still hasn’t seen yet in the short time that he’s played, (but) we are always trying to stay one step ahead.”
Concerning the Chargers defensive line, Bradley was complimentary of the way defensive end Joey Bosa has played this season.
“I think (Bosa’s) being more complete,” Bradley said. “(He’s been) so close multiple times where he thought he had multiple strip sacks, but those things will come. When you’re rushing as good as he is, coming off the edge and using his hips and his hands… just keep doing it and your time will come. He’s in a good place right now (and) playing with a lot of confidence.”
“We are excited about Uchenna,” Bradley said. “One thing about (him) is that he’s going to play hard (and) play with great effort.”
When asked about the positional versatility Nwosu displayed against the Dolphins in Ingram’s absence, Bradley said that his adaptability was one of the reasons the Chargers took him with the 48th overall pick in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
“I think that he’s just a natural athlete,” Bradley said. “It’s hard to find a guy that can play outside linebacker, ask him to do all of the drops and then also be a rusher. That’s unique.”
Nwosu and Bosa have yet to be involved in too many blitz packages this season. When asked why, Bradley said his defensive strategy has been highly determinant on the ways in which Bradley thought he could put pressure on the opposing quarterback in their previous two games.
“As a play caller, we are bringing more pressure on first and second down this year… it’s more based on game plan on how we think we can affect the quarterback.”
Kickoff at ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park is this Sunday at 1:05 p.m. PT.