Rivers: Baltimore 'Has Built a Defensive Culture'

Chargers veteran QB Philip Rivers talks with the media about preparing to go against former teammate Eric Weddle

On Ravens S Eric Weddle

“Yeah, he was a great teammate, great player and great friend. He and I still keep in touch throughout the year, in the offseason, our boys played ball together, so there was obviously a lot of great years together. We've had quite a bit of competition on the practice field, just when score wasn't involved. So it will be a heck of a challenge, both he leading that defense, and just that defense in general, it's a heck of a defense. So we definitely have our work cut out for us on Saturday.”

On familiarity with Weddle:

“Yeah, I think both of us know each other very well — we’ve had a lot of conversations about football. You know, about things we liked, things we didn't like — things we see, things we didn't see. Yeah, some of the things he does, and he's still doing some of the things that I've seen forever, but at the end of the day, the ball gets snapped, and you have to play. He's going to do his job and do all he can to help get his guys in the best position possible. Like you said, it's a heck of a defense over there. It's not just him. It's a heck of a defense. Then, he's got to know things I like and different things we do, and we're just going to go out there and execute them. At some point you've got to go play, and you prepare all week, and then we'll go.”

On following up a big win:

“Playing on Thursday, we've had quite a few days. I think it was a good, long weekend — an enjoyable weekend to be able to relax and watch games this weekend after a big win like we had — but you look at this opponent, and you look at all that's still out there, we know the challenge that we have in the Ravens and then all that's at stake. So it's not hard. Especially this time of the year, to move on to the next opponent.”

On WR Mike Williams’ season:

“I think there was a little bit of that. Certainly, he wanted to bounce back and have a great year, but again, we saw spurts of it on the practice field. He was injured last year, so I think that was the biggest thing last year was he was injured. When he got healthy, it was mid-to-late season, and it's just hard to get back into groove. So I thought it was big for him, as I said, to have a full offseason and full training camp — and he didn't miss a day. He didn't miss one day. I think that was big for him. He made those kinds of contested, high catches or on the boundary, or spectacular kind of plays. He made about one a day it seemed like, all offseason, all training camp. Obviously, he's had a heck of a year for us. He hasn't had the 60, 70 catches this season, but he's had a ton of big ones. Obviously, anytime you get in the end zone, all those are big. It's been great to kind of see him come on. I still think the best is yet to come for him as far as a career. He's going to have a heck of a career.”

On Mike Williams’ improved route running:

“Yeah, I think, just again it's the college and pro game. Everything's different. He came from a great program at Clemson, which what [Clemson Head Coach] Dabo [Swinney] and them have done there is awesome. He came in catching a lot of balls, and all of that, and knowing football. It wasn't like he didn't understand football and know things. It's just a progression of how just little, little details that we all grew as players from the college game to the pro game. Again, he's going to continue to improve in that regard, recognizing how they're playing him in certain coverages, how to run certain routes and continue to progress — but when you have that kind of size, that kind of speed, and that type of range and ball skills, you can work on the other stuff, no question.”

On waving to the Kansas City crowd amid boos:

“Yeah, it felt pretty good, finally, after a long stretch of being booed, and having to tuck my head and trot off, but we just have to move past that one in a hurry — because as exciting as that was, we've got to move on to this week, and we have. I think games like that, times like that, those are emotional. It's emotional wins and you enjoy those as best you can.”

On the Baltimore defense:

“They were good last year too. This defense, they built a culture there defensively over the last two — longer than a decade, way longer than that of just playing a certain physical style and aggressive, get after it, we're going to blitz from all over the place. Then we're just going to lineup and play sound defense. They really keep you off-balance, and they just fly to the football. You know, [Ravens OLB Terrell] Suggs has been there forever, and he was a part of the old Ravens way back, way back when. He's been there ahead of 14, 15, short of years. Had a heck of a career, doing it at a high level. A lot of those guys, the secondary, are high draft picks that can cover you, [and there’s the] linebacker that can really run. You've got big boys on the interior that can stop the run and penetrate. So it's a top defense in the league for a reason. You know, I just say we have our work cut out for us.”

On how Weddle fits into the defense:

“As he was here, he's the quarterback of the defense. He's the one calling the plays. He's the one with the green dot, at least it seems that way. They all look to him to do a lot of the communicating, and all of them are. 57 [ILB C.J. Mosely] is there, and so, he's obviously been there playing for that defense. Even though schemes get tweaked, being there that long he knows what's going on for sure. All those guys do. It seems like the group that's on the same page but you see Eric directing a lot of that, as you'd expect, that's what he's done here. That's what he's great at, and he's a heck of a player after the snap. It's some of the pre-snap things that he does that really separates him from a lot of other safeties.”

On being the No. 5 seed in the AFC despite 11 wins:

“I think that's an easy answer. I mean, yeah, shoot. It's what it is. We're a heck of a division. The Chiefs have had a heck of a season. I do think though with two games to go, the fact that you're in is exciting, but obviously there is a lot at stake. We can find a way to win a heck of a game, a heck of a challenge against the Ravens and find a way to win the next Sunday, and still be the fifth seed. So I think we can control what we can control, and that is this opponent in front of us who has a ton to play for. They're still in the thick of winning their division. They can end up being a four — this team that they're playing — they're also getting in as the six. So playoff football has begun. We can't wait around until January. Heck of an opponent to have this Saturday.”

On if he and Weddle will be able to tell each other’s signals:

“I'll find out. We'll find out early on. We'll find out early on how much of that will go on. I mean, that would go on about every day, multiple times a day on the practice field, you know? Of course, you could hear a little bit then, it's just us on the practice field. I think, again, I don't want to make too much of it. I don't imagine he's going to overanalyze everything he hears. He knows that I know that he knows, you know what I mean? And vice versa. Different things. I mean, he and I used to always talk about things. I saw you do this or I saw you tell him something. So he knows. You almost know too much, and you almost paralyze yourself, I thought he was doing this, and it looks like he's doing that. You forget about the rest of the play. So I think it's going to be about execution as it is. It's not me versus him. It's our offense against an awesome defense. He happens to be one of the key components and a guy that is as smart as any safety, you know, you play against. So I think there is a challenge there, and I don't think we should overstate the fact.”

On if audible terms are different now that in years past:

“Yeah, and some of the words they're saying, we could make them something different. So I don't think — nobody's panicking in here about what he may know, and I don't think he's panicking about what I may know about stuff from him. I think it adds a little spice to it, but at the end of the day, we've got to find a way to get first downs and score points. It's a heck of an opponent to try to do that to.”

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