The focus and determination remain the same, but you’d be a fool to think it’s strictly business as usual at Hoag Performance Center right now.
This is the playoffs!
And, as you would expect, there’s an extra buzz in the locker room.
Well, Philip Rivers knows better than most that these moments can’t be taken for granted.
The quarterback made the playoffs four straight seasons after taking over as the team’s starting quarterback in 2006. The Chargers also made it his rookie year when he was backing up Drew Brees.
However, this marks only their second appearance in the past nine years and first since 2013.
This is a special opportunity the Bolts must take advantage of…and that’s exactly what he’s telling his teammates.
“When you're younger you think this is it; you get a shot every year,” Rivers remarked. “Then when you go once in the last nine or ten years, you realize how fleeting it is and how hard it is to get in. (I’m) just excited. Excited about the opportunity, and I think from the experiences I've had, both positive and negative, you take that with what you can, and you just go play. It's like back to the high school playoffs. Somebody's moving on and somebody's not. Once you understand the reality, what's at stake and all that, then you move that ahead. Shoot, you go cut it loose for three hours and see what happens.”
While Rivers explained the team needs to “cut it loose,” he also stressed there’s a fine line in how you go about it.
“Certainly, you don’t want to be reckless, but I think you don’t want to play (too conservatively),” he said. “You play careful. You always want to protect the football, but you don't want to play scared to make a play or make a mistake because then you won't make any plays and you’ll go, ‘Gosh, we should have done this or should have done that.’ So you've definitely got to cut it loose, but at the same time manage all those situations.”
While this marks Rivers’ sixth time in the dance, this is the first taste of NFL playoff football for many inside the locker room.
So, what’s his advice to those set to make their debut?
“Everybody is excited,” he said. “It's important for the guys that have been in it not to make it sound frightening or anything crazy. I mean, it's what you dream about — playing in offseason — in spring and during training camp. You're excited about this time. The thing about playoff football…you never expect it to be over. You're always preparing to keep going and going and going. The reality is, it's one week at a time. Somebody will be done on Sunday afternoon at 4:30.”
Thus, while there’s extra excitement in the air, what they do in the classroom and on the practice field needs to be business as usual.
“We just have to have a good week of preparation, not do anything different, but know that every little detail matters and is the difference in playing again next week or not.”