Philip Rivers on Preparing for the Raiders

Chargers veteran QB Philip Rivers talks with the media Wednesday about preparing for the Raiders.

On playing against Oakland:

“Yes, yes, it's always a challenge, always exciting. I look forward to going there and playing. It's a heck of an atmosphere. It won't be there much longer, so not too many more chances to go in there. So, division opponent — we've got to play to improve on and get better at things this week in practice, find a way to go over there and be able to get it done.”

On memories of playing in Oakland:

“Shoot, we've had some really good games up there. I mean, close games. There was a Monday Night [game] where [former RB Darren] Sproles scored late there, 19 seconds left to win. [Former K Nick] Novak hit a game winner — last year I guess it was, we hit one there at the end after we went to New York and won. We've had some that have come down to the wire. We respect this team, this opponent. They’re in the division and we have to be ready to go.”

On not trying to do too much:

“Yeah, I think you always — I tried to do it my whole career. I think there is a time when you've got to be able to make a play for your team, take some risk and make those big plays or you won't make any — but also play within the scheme and within how the game flow is going. These last, shoot, these last almost 20 games or so, we've had good balance. Leaning on one another offensively and defensively taking care of the ball — all of those things are important. So we've done a nice job of it so far. Like I said, there were some things in that game that weren't at our best, but we were able to overcome them because we didn’t have any disaster plays happen, which we know those things can kill you. So we need to stay away from those and keep ourselves in these games and find a way to win that one.”

On learning to not try to do too much:

“I don't know. It's been a long career. I don't know — you learn every day. You grow every week, and I don't think you ever look back and have any regrets. It's always done with good intentions. Any chance that you take, any time you may feel like you've got to do better, it's all done with the right intention, but it usually doesn't work out. There are times it has, other times it hasn't — but I think where our football team is right now, we're steady and you control what you can control.”

On the offense’s big plays:

“I think it's probably a little bit of both [a function of the game and us looking to push the ball downfield]. We had the capability personnel-wise to get those chunk plays, both in the skill positions and with what our guys are doing up front, and I think it comes with balance. Over the years, over the last 13 years or so, the years we've had our most — our chunk plays and had some success down the field like this were the years we ran the ball the best. Here we are now, we've been in a good groove of run, pass balance. I think that allows us some of those opportunities because you can't just line up and play soft to protect chunk plays because then we will hand it to [RB Melvin Gordon III] and [RB Austin Ekeler] 30 times a game. So I think that balances.”

On staying focused with a 6-2 record:

“I don't remember what it felt like with 6-2 back then. I wouldn't define what we've done yet as success. I think we've had some weekly success. We had success Sunday and we won, we had success on that day, but I don't know that anybody in that locker room feels like, ‘Hey, man, we're a successful group.’ We have a long way to go. I've been on teams that are 4-8, made it in. Last year, turned it around and fell just short. Another team in 2014, we were 7-3 or whatever — we were 7-4 — and finished 9-7 and missed it by a game. So it's a long season. We're truly one week at a time. This league is week-to-week to me. I don't fall into where people say, ‘Oh, this patch of the schedule is easier than that patch.’ They all count. We have a division game on the road this week to try to get our seventh win.”

On growing in confidence with each win:

“I think growing in confidence is good. I think you want to be confident. I think winning — I do think winning is contagious and winning brings confidence. I think it's just making sure we channel that, and it's properly applied and hopefully it enhances our focus instead of causing us to relax. As long as it does that, heck yeah. Those years when we did win a lot of football games, we took the field every week and said, ‘We're going to figure it out. I don't know how we're going to win this Sunday, but we're going to win and we'll figure it out.’ I think that's a good thing. When you won two games and come down to the last play the last two weeks, you can build on that, but we also do know how hard it is to win. So there is a fine line somewhere in there. I think we're on the right track from what I gather and the conversations we've had. What I say to teammates and amongst teammates, I feel like we're in a good place mentally.”

On G Michael Schofield III:

“Yeah, [Schofield] has done a heck of a job. Heck of a job. Shoot, his time in Denver, they had a lot of success, obviously, winning, and he's been here and done a nice job. He's been at that right guard spot every snap and I don't think missed a snap Like you said, some of the other names that have been out there that you know of — a [C Mike] and [T Russell] Okung — they've made Pro Bowls and been other places. Schofield just kind of does his job and brings his lunch pail to work every day. He's a super smart player. He's tough, gritty, physical. I mean, he's a heck of a player. He really likes it. He's one that really likes the fine details of it all and how schemes work. I think that's huge. I do think that the flexibility, both with our skill players and our linemen, to be able to adapt to any personnel, any call, any check is a huge plus. I don't think that's everywhere. We ask a lot of a lot of guys to be able to do that and just kind of function. 'Yeah, I know we installed it this way, but we're actually going to do it this way,' and everybody just goes, 'Alright.' It's not [frustration]. There are a lot of flexible guys, with [Schofield] being one of those. He's doing a nice job.”

On WR Tyrell Williams’ impact on chunk plays:

“Yeah, it's a little bit of both [his matchups and the confidence in him]. His size, his speed is awesome, man. It's just worked out the way he's come up. So those were designed that way for him. Others like the touchdown in the [Seattle] game, just the way they came up. We weren't expecting that coverage, they played man, and he was kind of just the best opportunity we had — and makes a heck of a play on his back shoulder. So I think all of our guys understand that we design things for certain guys, no question. If we don't get what we want, the ball could go anywhere. That's kind of what happened. On the touchdown to [WR] Mike [Williams], it was the same thing. If you would have said, 'Where is this ball going?' before we broke the huddle — he had a chance to get it, and then all of the sudden it was like, 'Shoot, this ball has to go to Mike.' Then you look up and it ends up being a touchdown. I think that guys know that. Other than they would do it because they care about their buddy and being unselfish, and just running for the love the game — we call them 'for the love of the game routes,' some of them. They also know that, shoot, when they come out here it's a little bit of both.”

On WR Mike Williams’ touchdown against Seattle:

“Yeah, it was close. It was close. I think they didn’t have a look. If they had called him out, they probably would have left it out. You just can't see that one heel touch. He did a heck of a job. The official on the sideline said, ‘I had it the whole way and I didn't see the heel go down.’”

On if Mike Williams was on a ‘love of the game’ route on his score:

“No, not on that play. I was saying we have some of those where guys go, 'Shoot, it's probably clearing this out for [WR] Keenan [Allen] on an in-cut,' or whatever. That one, he was certainly live, but just with the coverage that we were anticipating, it wasn't where we thought the ball was going to go. Then again, you never know. That's why everything matters, as we say, and everything's important.”

On the Raiders defense:

“I'll tell you what, gosh, they've had a couple games get away from them as of late with Seattle and San Francisco, but every [other] game, the end of the game was right there. Our game, going back, it really was three to three and all of the sudden, it was bang-bang-bang before halftime and we scored. Again, those games earlier in the year [were closer], so we know how close [they were]. Records don't always show. There have been so many guys shuffled in and out, it's hard to get a real feel as far as tendencies on guys or what guys do because there are different guys in there at different spots, but it's still a defense we respect a lot. [Raiders Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther] has been coaching defense a long time. They're shuffling guys in and out of the secondary, sprinkling different guys in. We know that we're going to get their best on Sunday and we're going to give them ours also.”

On if players need reminding to not overlook opponents:

“Yeah, I don't think you need to go overboard. I think maybe guys that are younger guys that — you're in a college game late in the season like this, you know, and in the records where they are that you kind of think, but in this league, I don't think — guys have been around, they know. I don't think there has to be much talk, because, shoot, we know. These guys — it's pro football and we've been on the other side of it. A few years ago, we were sitting at 3-9 wherever we were. It would have been a real slap in the face. ‘What do you mean? You don't think we can come in here and play? We're going to play and give you all we got and win.’ So we've been on that side of it too. We know what we're going to get. It's a division game with a lot of pros. It will be a division game, as we know, and we've got to be ready to roll.”

On the potential of this team:

“We've got a chance. I mean, I thought last year we had a chance. There's never been a year I didn't think we had a chance. Certainly, we've put ourselves in position at the halfway mark to have a better chance than some years, but potential is dangerous. Now you've got to go do it. That year we got in and we were 4-8, Denver started 5-0 or 6-0, they were hottest team, and I didn't think they were going to lose. Then all of the sudden, they’re 8-4, we’re 4-8 and they lose four in a row, and we win four in a row, and we're hosting a playoff game after being 4-8, left for dead. I'll never forget those days. This thing can change in a hurry. The task at hand is the Oakland Raiders and we have a Wednesday practice. That's keeping it as simple as that. I know it's boring, but that's the best bet.”

On S Derwin James:

“He's awesome. The play he made on the screen the other day, he's out there, and it looks like uh-oh. A little bit, I kind of thought, ‘Uh-oh’. He jumped over the blocker, kind of gathered himself, made a heck of a play and held on until his buddies got there — but that's just one play from last week. I think just his instincts. Obviously, physically he's super talented. He's big, fast and all those things, but some things you just can't, you know, you can't. He's a football player, you know what I'm saying. Same thing about [CB] Desmond King [II]. The guy knows how to play football. Those guys seem to find their way around the football a lot and making a bunch of plays.”

On if the culture carried over from last season:

“Yeah, I do think that. I definitely would agree with that. I think the way we finished, the camaraderie we had, the mentality, the make-up, I do think those things have carried over. I think we came into this offseason hungry and excited because of the way last year finished. Couldn't get here soon enough. Then you add some pieces and you kind of got to regenerate it a little bit, but it's there and I think we've done that so far. So now it's maintaining it and finding ways to improve each and every week and never relax. You know, success, yeah, we've had some on some Sundays, but we're certainly by no means have done anything yet.”

On the culture of the team:

“Yeah, we've got a neat group of guys. I think it speaks a lot to the character of the guys and kind of a little bit of the — I kind of like it when it's a little bit inconvenient. You know? I think that. Yes, we all have our days where we complain, but there is something about that. How do you want to set up this drill and make it as hard as possible, and we'll find a way to get it done. So I think there is something about that that this team has. Thankfully, because it's been tough. It was a tough month, just in general, with travel. So we have one more here in a row that willl be on the road before we come back home. So it's the back stretch that we all know a lot of things happen on this back stretch.”

On the turnover at kicker:

“I mean, it can, definitely be frustrating. I think, again, it's control what you can control. We have to control what we control offensively, defensively, and then have the faith that [K] Mike's [Badgley] going to do a heck of a job. I think he's done just that so far. His time in preseason and his time here has been solid. Just being around him just a little bit, he's got a heck of a lot of confidence, and the guys believe in him. Whoever trots out there, we're going to believe in, and we can control what we can control. Can it be frustrating? Certainly. It's an emotional game, but we look forward to Mike being out there.”

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