Whisenhunt: Baltimore 'Plays Great Solid Defense'

Chargers OC Ken Whisenhunt addresses the media Wednesday

On how QB Philip Rivers’ play differs from previous seasons:

“No, not really. I mean, I think that obviously being in contention for something this year is different for our whole team than it has been, maybe. Last year we were in it too, we were right up until the end. I mean, in 2013 when we were in a similar situation, although we hadn't clinched, he's been consistent as far as what you're asking if he for the whole time. Nothing ever changes about his work ethic, his preparation, no matter what. Even in 2016 when we were not having a great season, nothing has changed from that standpoint.”

On Rivers’ confidence:

“He loves to play the game. I think if you talk about a true pro, somebody that is diligent in his preparation and cares about his teammates, I think that's what he does. It's not independent of anything else. Now, obviously, after last Thursday night we were all really excited because that's what you do it for, to put yourself in a position like that. To have success is tremendous, but I don't see any difference. He's very consistent. Constantly trying to get better and working hard at it.”

On Rivers throwing less interceptions than in years past:

“Well, you know, I think maybe a lot of it, maybe a lot of it is situational. Some of those, we've had some injuries here in the past where we've been depleted with some guys, and he's fought like he had to potentially try to carry the team. When that happens, you always try to do a little more. Maybe that has led to that, but I think we, as a team, have been much better focused on taking care of the football, and that's helped us. I certainly think Philip has always been that way to me. I think when you're a quarterback, it's so hard in this league to never throw it in tight windows, especially when you've got guys all around you coming after you, pressures, sometimes you have to try to fit it in in certain places — but I couldn't say there is anything different. I could just say he's had a tremendous year, and it's been really fun to watch.”

On the offensive line:

“I think we had this talk back in the start of training camp and about how important the chemistry is with that group. I think [T] Russell [Okung] missed a game in there at one point, didn't he? Other than that, those guys have been together. I think a lot of times, we've played in some pretty tough environments and big games in Kansas City, certainly in Pittsburgh. When you get into those type of things, the communication between those guys is so important. Not maybe so much the verbal communication is as the non-verbal communication. Understanding where that guy's going to be, how you can work together on stunts, how you can work your techniques. It develops the chemistry that's so important with those guys. You know, give them a lot of credit, that group has worked very hard to be good at what they do. They have taken it upon themselves, and it's good to see them have a little bit of success this year. Especially, I think a lot of times lines are judged by two things, protection, obviously, and then how you run the football. In a sense we've done a little better with that this year. It's good that they get some recognition with that.”

On how the offensive line chemistry compares to that he had as the head coach in Arizona:

“I do [see similarities], and I think when you get into the situation that we're in, where you're playing big games and you've got a group that's playing together — especially guys that are veterans, like [C Mike] Pouncey and Russell [Okung] — it helps you going forward because it's not too big for them. I think that's kind of filtered in through the whole group. It's a good room, that group of guys and that worked hard. Let me tell you something, it's funny, because we go over to Jack Hammett Sports Complex where we have training camp, and it's kind of like deja vu, because it was almost four months ago that we were over there practicing. You think about where we are now and where we were then, and how much has happened in between there, and how those guys have been consistent since it started there to where they are. Now where we are now about how they work, how they prepare, and just their attitude. It's been really a big part of the reason I think offensively we've done some decent things this year.”

On the team having seven Pro Bowlers:

“I'm excited for them. That's awesome for those guys. This recognition for all the hard work they've done. I think it speaks volumes to the way those guys have worked, and you couldn't be happier for them.”

On the importance of getting a lead against Baltimore:

“I would say it's important to jump out to the lead against anybody in this league, but this is a good defense. You know, you can't go in with that type of mentality saying we've got to do something. I think you have to go in and say we've got to play our game. How do we do that? We've had times where we've started fast and played well. We've had times where we maybe haven't and have been able to make some plays later in the game. So they're a good squad. They're disciplined. They've got good football players. They play a difficult scheme, but we know it's a challenge. So we're looking forward to Saturday night to see how that goes.”

On the Baltimore defense:

“Well, like I said, they've got a lot of talented players, and they play a scheme where they're versatile. They do a lot of different things. They're an aggressive group, and they've played great, solid defense. There's not a lot of holes in what you see when you watch tape. So it's certainly a challenge. I guess that's why they're the number one defense in the league.”

On if Ravens S Eric Weddle can provide insight into the offensive scheme:

“I think you always think about those kinds of things, you know, but it's also been a couple of years. We've changed things a little bit. I was here with Eric in 2013. He was a tremendous player for us, but the whole thing where he left, I wasn't here. We've come back, and we've changed a few things since then about how we do it, especially with [Head] Coach [Anthony] Lynn coming in, there's always naturally going to be some changes. I'm sure there will be some things that he can recognize and some that he won't. He's like Philip [Rivers]. He's a dedicated football player that really studies the game and does a great job. So it's always a challenge when you go against guys like that.”

On frustration of playing against offenses that stay on the field:

“That's part of it, you know. We've had games this year where we've been out there for a long time, and it certainly is fun when you do that — but [Baltimore has] done a good job of that. That would probably be better questions for me. For us, we can control what we can control. So when we get our opportunity to get on the field, we hopefully can take advantage of that.”

On the Baltimore mid-season change in offensive strategy:

“I think sometimes you adjust your scheme to your players, which maybe that's what they've done. I'm certainly not an expert on that, but whenever you have a change like that at quarterback, sometimes you have to do some things differently. It seems like they must have been pretty effective. I haven't really looked at them from an offensive perspective.”