Here's a breakdown of the news from the Chargers' 12th week of the season:
Monday: Reflecting on thrilling win on 'SNF'
On Monday, head coach Brandon Staley and outside linebackers Joey Bosa and Uchenna Nwsou broke down the Bolts' 41-37 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bosa, who missed the previous week of practice due to being on the Reserve/COVID list, talked about what it meant to him to have the edge rushers make an impact in the game, especially on the Steelers' final offensive drive with back-to-back sacks from Kyler Fackrell and Bosa himself.
"For me, I just hugged [OLB] Uchenna [Nwosu] and [OLB] Kyler [Fackrell] because they both had gotten a sack in the fourth quarter; Kyler was the play before [mine,]" Bosa said. "I felt like we kind of all did it together. I feel like, as the edge group, we've been waiting to have a really big impact on games. I think the last couple of games, we've been doing a really good job. To come up at the end like that was awesome. It felt great celebrating that moment with them."
While Bosa was back in the lineup on Sunday, the Bolts were missing key members of their defensive line with Jerry Tillery and Christian Covington on the COVID list and Linval Joseph out due to injury. In their place, a young, undrafted defensive linemen trio of Breiden Fehoko, Joe Gaziano and Forrest Merrill stepped up in primetime and never looked back.
"They didn't flinch," Nwosu said. "All of those guys practiced very, very hard during the week. If only you guys could have seen practice, they practiced really hard during the week. No matter what opportunity comes, they're always going to perform. They didn't back down. They never flinched. They were ready for the moment. They were playing like they've been in the league for 10-plus years. I'm very proud of those guys. They really work hard and they really stepped up in a big way. They really helped our team become victorious."
Justin Herbert joined the 'Pat McAfee Show' on Tuesday to discuss the Chargers' thrilling win against the Steelers and more.
Wednesday: Mentor meets mentee
On Wednesday, the focus shifted to facing the division rival Denver Broncos on the road in Week 12. With a win in Denver, the Bolts would move to 3-0 on the season against the AFC West and would improve their overall record to 7-4.
The Chargers' Week 12 matchup will be unique in that Staley will get a chance to face his mentor in Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. Fangio gave Staley his first NFL job by hiring him to be the Chicago Bears outside linebackers coach. Staley would go on to stay with the Bears for two seasons (2017-2018) and then follow Fangio to Denver in 2019 in that same role. Staley talked about how much Fangio has meant to him throughout his career and what it meant for him to take a chance on a Division III assistant coach in Staley at the time.
"Vic means a lot to me," Staley said. "As much as anybody in the NFL that I've been able to work with. He's made a huge impact on the way I coach, the way I view the game. He certainly has stood the test of time in the NFL. I just really admire his path. He didn't have an easy path to coaching. He just has an incredible work ethic, incredible focus. I think he's really global with the game, being able to change with the game."
Defensive lineman Justin Jones talked about what he's seen on film from the Broncos running back duo of former Charger Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams.
"Melvin has always been a good running back," Jones said. "He was a good back for us. He has been a good back for Denver. Obviously, they have a good duo back there. Just trying to cage them in, keep them inside our tackles, try to make a play in-between the tackles and know when to hit our edges. That'll make the game play out in our favor, so that's the plan."
Thursday: Ekeler's journey in the NFL
On Thursday, Chargers defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill talked about the Broncos receiving corps trio of Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and Jerry Jeudy. Hill, who played safety for the Broncos and was a coach in Denver as well, talked about what makes the Broncos offense difficult to defend.
"The biggest thing, just being with those guys over there, is the size factor," Hill said. "Even when you think that you have them covered and matched, that size can take over. We have to do a good job of playing through those big guys this week. Then, you have a shifty guy with [WR Jerry] Jeudy inside, who can create separation. I think that we just have to identify where those guys line up and make sure that we do have eyes on them - sometimes two eyes on them, especially Jeudy. When he's in the slot, we have to be able to identify him, but we also have to be able to take care of those guys on the outside lane with the size."
When talking about the Chargers offense, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi talked about what it's been like working with running back Austin Ekeler, who grew up and went to college in Colorado and worked his way from undrafted free agent to starter in the NFL.
"He's met the highest level of those expectations," Lombardi said. "He's so efficient. He's not a big guy, but he runs big. He runs strong. He has good vision. He's a good receiver out of the backfield that catches the ball, and then, when he has it, good things happen. He's a hard guy to tackle. There are not a lot of guys like him that can run in-between the tackles as effectively as he can, but also can be out on the perimeter as a receiver running routes, and be such a dangerous guy in space."
Take a look at what Fangio, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and more had to say about the Chargers throughout the week.
Friday: Herbert and Williams' clutch connection
On Friday, Staley gave updates on starting guard Matt Feiler's injury status after being listed as questionable for Sunday's game with an ankle injury. Staley explained that guard Senio Kelemete and G/T Brenden Jaimes will be ready to fill in for Feiler if he is unable to play.
"Both of those guys have been working hard for us," Staley said. "Senio has a real calming, veteran presence. He has played in a lot of different offenses. He gives you that veteran stability. Then, Brenden, we just think that he's a young player that is developing. He's ascending. Since he's been active the last couple of weeks, we feel that he has improved a lot."
Herbert then talked about his clutch late-game connection with wide receiver Mike Williams as the duo has connected on five go-ahead touchdowns in the fourth quarter this season.
Herbert discussed the trust he has in Williams in order to make those plays so routine.
"When we need him most, he steps up," Herbert said. "He is one of those guys that you trust and he's going to make something special happen whenever he's out on the field. He's done an incredible job all year long. He's super trustworthy, dependable and he works incredibly hard. We're not surprised at all by all of his success."
DL Christian Covington was activated from the Reserve/COVID list on Friday and Staley expects both Covington and DL Jerry Tillery to play in Sunday's game against the Broncos after missing last week. Tillery was activated on Thursday.
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This week also brought a collection of videos to Chargers fans, take a look at the top videos released throughout the week.
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On the fourth episode of Running for History powered by Lazy Dog, we take a look at the big guys up front. Without offensive linemen Kris Dielman, Mike Goff, Shane Olivea, Nick Hardwick and Marcus McNeill, LaDainian Tomlinson would have never set records he did in route to an all time MVP performance in 2006. Running for History is a six-part narrative podcast chronicling LT's historic 2006 season with the Chargers.
Featuring: LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Nick Hardwick, Kris Dielman and more!
Film Room: Chargers Linebacker Kyzir White vs. Broncos running back Javonte Williams
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Go Justin Herbert Go!
Justin Herbert recorded 382 passing yards and 90 rushing yards against the Steelers, the most by a Chargers quarterback in one game! Presented by Arco.
Tweets of the Week Bolt Up for 2022!
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