Q:** What do you see from this Chargers offense that concerns you? How much of a Patriot influence do you see based on Mike McCoy's time under Josh McDaniels in Denver?
MP: I think Coach McCoy does a great job really adapting the system to the players that he has on the offense. He's done a great job through his career to put the players that he has in the best possibility and best position to make plays and the best system. He's been able to adapt his systems into different looks and different styles to fit all the particular players that he has. You can strongly see some influences that either might be from his time with Josh or really his time with Peyton Manning and through into obviously coaching now a senior quarterback Philip Rivers and really trying to tailor the offense to meet the best skill positions and the best fit for the players that they have. Certainly, they pose a lot of problems. I see another high-powered, explosive offense really led by the quarterback and the quarterback-driven system. You'll see a lot plays at the line of scrimmage where he can adjust or check or change the play based on what the look is or what the defense is giving him. He certainly has some outstanding weapons to get the ball to. Certainly, the tight end position, with Antonio Gates being a long-standing, outstanding player for San Diego, a guy who is a real tough matchup problem for defenses and a guy who really can control the middle of the field, both vertically and in the short situational passes. [He has a] huge catch radius, very savvy player, very veteran, smooth guy that just really finds the available space to get open. Certainly, the connection between Rivers and Gates is one that's been established for a long time. It's one that's an extremely difficult combination to deal with and to try to defend. It'll start there, but he's added to the course of the season and through last year, they've added some receivers like Keenan Allen, who's really come on here to provide a lot of different changes and ability in the offense. Obviously, [Malcom] Floyd, who has a great skill set to get down vertical into the defense and create the big plays. Eddie Royal comes in and does a great job in the slot situation and in the intermediate route running, but also really if you watch Eddie Royal in the run game - which you know San Diego has some very good running backs that do a great job in the space game of gaining yardage – watch Eddie Royal block, it's very impressive. The guy is relentless in his pursuit to get to the DBs [defensive backs] and get them routed out of the box and try to gain some extra yards in the run game. I think he's really done a great job – Coach McCoy and obviously [Offensive Coordinator] Frank Reich has done a great job of really designing this offense to fit the skill players they have and to put the most pressure they can on the defense.
Q:** Will you be leaning on Josh McDaniels to find out whatever you can about Mike McCoy and what he's doing over there?
MP: Certainly, Josh is very much buried into the San Diego defense and taking care of that. We'll certainly try to always exhaust [our options] when we play an opponent. We'll try to look at every different aspect, whether its previous games with that opponent, previous times we've played a particular player or coach and any sort of combination of information that we can get from guys that have been introduced to systems similar or the system that they're running and just obviously try to get as much information as possible. I think that's pretty standard as far as football and coaching or playing. We're trying to get as much information as we can about whatever the particular team or system is that we're playing. You always try to exhaust all of your options.
Q: Having watched film of their offense with players like Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal, do they go for the big strikes very often or are they much more methodical?
MP: The thing about this offense is I think it starts with Philip Rivers and his ability to adjust what he's seeing in the no-huddle and the tempo offense to either speed it up or slow it down, but really to survey the defense, take a look at what the defense is in and really try to get their offense in the best play possible. And with the players that they have on the field, they have the ability to do both. They certainly have a very methodical approach – ball control, being able to get the ball out [with] either quick passes or intermediate passes – and kind of control the game from that aspect of it, along with the run game of course. Then they have the big strike ability to get the ball downfield, including Floyd, including Gates; [Ladarius] Green, their other tight end who can stretch the defense vertically. They will certainly take advantage of those situations. If they see it come up, they're going to take their opportunities to get the ball downfield as much as they can.
Q:** You've kept the last two opponents outside of the end zone when they've reached the red zone. What points do you want to check off to give you guys a chance to succeed when you're backed up down there?
MP: Our job is to stop the opponent from scoring and to make sure that they don't get in the end zone. We're certainly going to always have a high emphasis on that particular target and that particular goal. I think you're just going to look at the opponent, and you're really going to try to analyze what they do in certain situations on the field. Whatever it is, whether it's third down or red area, try to understand where most of their attack points are, understand what your defensive situation is and try to anticipate where they are going to attack you. You're going to really try to look at all those different scenarios the best you can to obviously keep them out of the end zone and whatever the situation is you're going to be able to handle the situation. Whether it's outside the red zone, in the red zone, in the low red zone, there are certainly different areas of the field included in the red zone that can affect and change the situation. Having good awareness of where you are on the field really can help play into that. I think our players do a great job of really every week trying to study the situations, the things that come up in those areas, the things teams are doing, whether its running the ball or throwing the ball, and how they're trying to score in different ways and the options and problems that they present in those areas of the field. That's a huge challenge for us defensively every week to defend the red area. It's certainly something that we've got to continually try to improve.
Q: Ryan Mathews had a great December last year. How much is he contributing now? Does he look like he's back to relatively full strength and how much does that affect Philip Rivers' approach?
MP: I would definitely say that offensively they look like they are in very good health and full strength. [Ryan] Mathews is an outstanding player that provides a different element from a quickness and speed and matchup ability. I really think all of their backs – [Donald] Brown and [Branden] Oliver certainly is another back that gives them a lot of production. I think they have good players in the backfield, players that can really make a big play out of not a lot of space. They do a great job in the run game of stretching the defense and being able to take the downhill cut or the small seam and really burst into the second level and third level and really gain a lot of yardage. Mathews is certainly a big part of their run game and their ability to take advantage of small spaces in the defense and to create big plays. I think Oliver and I think Brown do a great job of finding those breaks in the defense.