MISSION VALLEY – After returning home from the fourth win in the season against the Denver Broncos, their second win against a division opponent, the Chargers players and head coach Norv Turner were all seeking the relief brought by the team’s upcoming bye week.
Monday was Turner’s day to watch tape, to go over Sunday’s game, looking for how many good things the team was doing. “We have gotten a lot better,” Turner said. “We’re doing a lot more good things in terms of getting done what we want done, than we are struggling in some areas.”
Turner said that it was important for the team to look at the areas they have struggles in and will address those things in the next two days of practice before the break, but added that he wanted the young players to understand the really good things the team is doing.
“We’re second in the league in pass defense,” Turner said. “We’re first in time of possession, which is a team stat; we’re running the ball better,” he said.
Getting better has been a recurring theme for this team over the season, with Turner stressing that a lot of that has to do with individuals understanding their responsibilities.
“A lot of it is communication – guys playing together and adjusting to a certain formation, adjusting to a blitz, adjusting to situations that might come up.
As for the team starting to find its rhythm, Turner said he thinks it’s been getting better, too. “I don’t think it’s ever going to be where you want it to be,” he said. “But I thought we did a great job defensively…and offensively, certainly we got into a pretty good rhythm running the ball.”
Quarterback Philip Rivers agreed with Turner’s assessment that the team was starting to find its rhythm, saying that anytime you win three-in-a-row and win two division games you’re going pretty good.
But he wouldn’t say that the team, or the offense, is where they want to be just yet. “It hasn’t been an easy 4 and 1 and I think that keeps…you real critical of yourself and of different areas and allows you to know you’ve got areas to improve in…we’ve had to fight wins out; we haven’t played necessarily great, but we’ve played good enough. And certainly we know we can improve and get better and we know we’re going to have to as the year progresses.”
Despite the win, the Chargers let the Broncos hang around, leaving the defense to once again thwart a late-game comeback attempt, this time by Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Although Tebow is the quintessential favorite for Denver fans, he remains the third-string quarterback behind starter Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn. But Turner said that the team prepares for different situations every week.
“When you are in a situation where you sense a guy might play, you put some time into it,” he said. “But we certainly didn’t devote our entire game plan to what (Tebow) does.”
“It’s tough to go in there and win,” Rivers said, noting the struggles to score in the red zone. Rivers added that there is a fine line between scoring touchdowns and field goals in the red zone.
“It’s not like we got to reinvent what we do down there, we just got to clean up some little things.”
Rivers did run for a touchdown, punctuating the score with a stare into the Denver stands. The stare had more to do with a relief that the offense was able to score in the red zone, rather than anything the Bronco fans were doing.
After their two practices this week, the team will be able to enjoy a four-day weekend. Rivers is certainly welcoming the bye week and doesn’t feel that it will impede any rhythm the team is starting to gain.
“I can’t imagine if we had to play a game this Sunday,” he said. “It would be rough getting everybody healthy to get out there, and obviously we’d be calling on guys to step up like we have in the past. It’s coming at a good time…it’s the perfect time to regroup…we’ve been going now for a little while, so certainly a good time for a little rest.”
The Chargers will be resume practice Monday in preparation for the Jets in New York.