Chargers prepare for the Bears on Monday Night Football

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Chargers Park, San Diego, CA: Half way through the season, the San Diego Chargers find themselves with a 2-6 record. They have had their ups and downs on offense, defense and special teams. On Wednesday head Coach Mike McCoy and quarterback Philip Rivers held their weekly press conference as they prepared to face the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, at Qualcomm Stadium.

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers

Rivers talked about playing at home, but having as many — or more — fans for the opponents in the stands. “You appreciate the fans of ours that are there. It’s not their fault. I’ve always understood, going years back, that certain teams have a bigger following and if you had to pick a road game to go to, San Diego would probably be the one I’d pick, especially late in November-December, so that’s a little part of it. It doesn’t help we’re 2 and 6, but mentally you do have to prepare for that a little bit. It’s a little different, especially these young players; they play at these big colleges, that are used to what their home game atmosphere is like, it’s probably a little shocking to them.”

In the press conference Rivers said, “Other than Minnesota and Oakland it hasn’t been just terrible in the 60 minutes we’ve been out there. There’s been a lot of good and we’ve had our chances. And that’s what makes it even harder is, we could easily have a different record, but we don’t. I think you really have to, right now, get excited about playing the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. And really, think about nothing else.” He added, “I’ve always said to the guys, ‘if you told any of us when we were 10 years old that hey, you’re going to play the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, none of our first responses would have been: but what’s our record gonna be? We just would have been fired up to be a part of it.’ So I think that’s the best approach at this point.”

On Tuesday they released return man, Jacoby Jones and promoted Javontee Herndon from the practice squad to try and improve the punt and kick returning. Head coach Mike McCoy said, “We had a number of transactions in the past 24 hours, so with where our roster is and the moves we made we thought it was in the best interest of the team moving forward to make that move.”

McCoy wanted to make clear it wasn’t just Jacoby Jones that was responsible for the poor showing from the return team this season. “It’s not just the returner. It’s a matter of the other ten guys doing their job correctly so that returner has an opportunity. Not just punt returns, but kick returns.”

San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy
San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy

What they need to improve is their offensive line, which has had to deal with many injuries this season. On several occasions this season McCoy has said the injury-laden offensive line is why they haven’t relied more on their running game.

And just this week they lost Keenan Allen and Brandon Oliver for the season. Oliver has been a solid running back, both rushing and receiving, but Allen has had the biggest impact on the offense this season, with 67 receptions and over 700 yards.

Rivers spoke about the loss of Keenan Allen and Jacoby Jones, saying Jones added some personality to the group of receivers. But the loss of Allen is big. He said, “Obviously we’re going to lean, like we did when [Antonio] Gates was out; we’re gonna lean now on Gates, Ladarius [Green], on Danny [Woodhead] — so it’s going to be a group effort. So, it’s not like, who’s gonna be the next guy to catch 70 these next eight games. I don’t know that will happen — it could — but I think it will be more of a ‘by committee’ effort.”

Even though there wasn’t much discussion about the defense, the coaches and players all agree: improvement is needed all around the team.

Next Monday they play the Chicago Bears, a team with a similar record — 2-5. The goal is simple for Rivers, “Find a way to win this game. And yes I know it only puts us at 3 and 6, but I don’t even care about that. Just find a way to win a football game.”

L.A. Post-Examiner Staff contributed to this article

(Photos by Claudia Gestro)