It's common practice around the NFL for offenses to script the first string of plays to kick off the game.
Each Saturday morning, Philip Rivers receives the final script for the next day's game. Sure, the team maintains some level of flexibility to make tweaks, but number 17 enters kickoff fully aware of how the Bolts plan to attack on offense.
While he's always confident, there was something different when he saw the script for the Washington Redskins.
"I feel this way most games, but more so yesterday," he said. "Every team puts together the first 15 plays or whatever. You don't necessarily stick with those, but you kind of have an idea of what's coming up in the first five or six plays of the game. Last night in the meeting, I was telling (QB Coach) Shane (Steichen) the play string early looks like we're about to just start off awesome. It was just one of those, everything we've practiced—you're not going to put anything in there you don't like—but it was one of those where you feel like alright, if we hit that first one to Tyrell (Williams), it's going to be a good start to the game because what we've got coming early, we felt good about (it). As far as the game plan goes, we're going to attack these guys."
True to form, the Bolts came out on fire. Their 354 total net yards marked the most in franchise history in the first half since at least 1991. It was also the most in any half since 2010. The team picked apart Washington's defense with a 10-play opening drive, sparked by a 34-yard strike to Tyrell Williams on the very first snap. The drive stalled as they settled for a Travis Coons field goal, but the tone was set.
The offense followed up the very next drive with another 10-play series, this time culminating in a Hunter Henry touchdown. Just like that, L.A. raced out to a 10-0 lead. After a Kyle Emanuel pick, Coons connected on another field goal, giving the Bolts a 13-0 advantage after one quarter of play.
"We know we have the playmakers, and execution is all about being mentally smart," said Russell Okung. "That has been the message we've had the last couple weeks. We know we're a physical, talented team. But in terms of our mental fortitude, where are we at? If we're good, we're really hard to beat."
As far as Head Coach Anthony Lynn is concerned, there's only one true common denominator to the team's strong starts of late.
"Just execution," he said. The guys executed. Earlier in the year, I think we went six games without scoring on the first drive. You know, we had dropped balls on third downs, we didn't stay on the field, and bad throws. Execution is just better."
Okung agreed with those sentiments, stressing the execution has been outstanding in all three phases.
"It's a collective effort," he said. "Guys are finally understanding the field position game. How important special teams are. That everything matters. They just seem to reflect that with how efficient our offense has been. What our defense has been doing is incredible. Our special teams, I don't think there are a lot of teams playing better in that third phase."
The Chargers face the Washington Redskins for a home game matchup.