Los Angeles Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn and select players comment on their game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, October 29, 2017.
CHARGERS HEAD COACH ANTHONY LYNN
POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
October 29, 2017
AL: Well, we knew coming in here that we couldn't give that team anything; they are too good of a football team. And I feel like we left too much on the field today. Penalties, touchdowns called back, we just didn't get ourselves a chance to win the game.
Q: Are you still confident in Travis [Benjamin] as a punt returner?
AL: Yes, I am. I mean, last week he made a play on a punt return that helped us win the game. You know, and this week, he made a bad decision. That was a huge play in the game. You have to have some awareness of where you are on the football field. And he did not.
Q: How much did that change the flow of the game, giving away those two points?
AL: Well, those two points and then we kicked it off and they got three more, so that's a five-point swing. I would say that those five points made a big difference in the game.
Q: You guys have struggled on kick returns, why was Michael Davis back there to start the game?
AL: Because exactly what you said, we have struggled on kick returns with different people. You know, Michael Davis, is a guy with a lot of speed. He's done it in college and I wanted to get a look at him.
Q: Anthony, it seems like special teams, overall, struggled today. What is your evaluation on how that unit performed when you look at everything that transpired?
AL: Well, I mean, I wouldn't say that they struggled all day. I mean, the punt return, that right there was huge. But the penalty at the end, you know, when we blocked a guy in the back - not smart football. And the rookies make that mistake a couple times and now I have to look at if I'm going to play that rookie; if I am going to allow him to hurt this team again in that way. I have to take a hard look at that.
Q: Is that just part of it, because you are playing so many young guys that you are having those mistakes popping up here and there that are costing you.
AL: It is part of it. You know, we have a young team and we are playing young guys. But they have to grow up at some point and you aren't a rookie anymore on Week 8, in my opinion.
Q: You guys opened the game by moving the ball pretty good, then you got into Patriots territory and then I think you got fourth and 1 and you decided to kick. What went into that decision? Did the fact that they measured there, did that slow the game enough to change your mind?
AL: No, I think that was a long fourth-and-1, it was more like a [fourth-and-2] almost. So yeah, I thought we should kick at that point. Felt comfortable with the kicking game.
Q: How do you feel the offense played today?
AL: I don't know. I have to watch the tape and see. You know, obviously not good enough to win the game. Didn't score enough points, but I will evaluate the tape.
Q: Still, to go to the end of the game and still have a chance to push it into overtime in a place like this, when really you probably didn't play as well as you could. How do you feel about that?
AL: You know, our guys compete every week. So we will always have a chance to win the game, I believe. And they kept themselves in the game even though we didn't play our best football. But, you know, that last drive, I assumed we could go down the field and score. But we fell short.
Q: What does it say about the quality of the football in the NFL for you guys to play a game when you have so many mistakes and you still have a chance to win ...
AL: Well, I think the quality of the football in the NFL is very strong. It's very strong and I think when you make mistakes, like we did today, you're not going to give yourselves a chance to win those types of games.
Q: Anthony, they were pretty good on third down, I think about 50 percent, and because of that they ended up running twice as many plays as you guys. Defense get tired at all, you think?
AL: I would think so. Even though we had 19 plays in the first half and they had like 40, I thought our defense stepped it up. I don't think they played tired at all.
Q: What are your thoughts on how Philip [Rivers] has played in this four-game stretch, where you have won three-of-four? Is that how you saw it when you first took over, about him ...
AL: Well, you know, you look at his quarterback ratings. His quarterback ratings are really high. I thought he gave us a chance to win all four games, to be honest with you.
Q: So, is that what you want to see moving forward, when you talk to him [during] this mid-season break?
AL: Absolutely. You know, him getting us in the right place, completions, passing efficiency, less turnovers. You always give yourself a chance to win when you can do those things.
Q: You guys were able to get to [Tom] Brady a couple times, but it seems like he did a pretty good job, for the most part, in the pocket.
AL: Yes, we didn't get to him enough. You know, we didn't get to him enough. And he got rid of the ball quickly. But you know, he is a master of moving around in the pocket and sliding and moving up and making guys miss. So, we have to give him some credit, too.
Q: Did you guys anticipate that their running backs would be involved in the passing game?
AL: Absolutely, absolutely. Well, we tried to take away the deeper threats, because in man-coverage, there were some mismatches. And we knew the backs were heavily involved in their passing game and we had to come up and make those tackles. We didn't always do that today.
Q: What's your assessment? How did Melvin [Gordon] play today?
AL: You know, Melvin came in the game sore, limping a little bit. But I thought he played hard, extremely hard. He left a couple yards on the field out there, but I thought he played well.
Q: To be able to deal with that and come out and still give you that type of effort, what does that say about him?
AL: Well, it says what I already knew about him. High character young man; works his tail off. You know, he is going to be an elite back in this league.
Q: There are a lot of guys, I'm sure on your team, that could use the bye week and I imagine he is pretty close to the top of that list. How important is this week?
AL: Yeah, we all could use it. But we wanted to use it, to win this game today. But we just talked about it, come back hungrier than ever, little fresher and go into the third quarter [of the] season and we know it is moving time for us. You know, we can't make so many mistakes as we did today in the third quarter [of the game].
Q: How do you feel Dan Feeney handled his first start?
AL: As soon as I watch this tape going home, I will be able to tell you that, but right now I can't tell you that.
Q: Was [Nick] Novak's kick tipped in the 51 yarder? Looked like it may have been tipped on the replay?
AL: You mean the one that he missed early?
AL: No, I thought it was a poor handle on the ball. We didn't get the ball down quick enough.
Q: Were you thinking about going for it, at first, and then decided at the end...
AL: It depends, you know, on how far it was. If it was a yard or a half a yard, maybe I probably would have gone for it, but it was a long yard, so we decided to kick.
Q: Did you think that was a penalty on Tyrell [Williams] on Travis [Benjamin's] touchdown?
AL: I did not. But, you know, I have to see the tape before I make that decision. You know, the referee called it, he saw what he saw. But I know we don't always, you know, go at that angle and then try get out the way, so that we don't pick. That's what we practice, but Tyrell said that's what he did. But I don't know, we will see. That was a big play of the game, I'll tell you that.
Q: Did you enter today with how many snaps you wanted to give Melvin or was it just to see how his foot responded?
AL: Just see how he responded to the soreness.
Q: Did that become an issue for him as the game went on? The soreness there...
AL: I don't think so. He stayed out on the field, he toughed it out.
Q: Coach, you say you break the season into quarters, but what is the state of the team based on this 3-1 stretch?
AL: You know, the team is real confident right now. And the team knows that we left too much on the field today. They know that. I think they will come back, confident and fresh, and I think we will play well in this third quarter of the season.
CHARGERS QUARTERBACK PHILIP RIVERS
POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
October 29, 2017
Q: I know Coach Lynn likes to break the season down into quarters. I know we are just off a loss here, but to go 3-1 to get to 3-5 going into the bye where do you assess the team right now?
PR: We were a heck of a lot better in the second quarter than we were in the first. It would have been nice to have gotten back to .500 with eight left to play, but we fought our way back to at least give ourselves a chance in the second half. There is not a lot of room for error down the stretch here if we want to accomplish all our goals we have out there, but certainly everything is still in front of us.
Q: Did you feel like you guys left a lot of points out there today?
PR: Yeah. We scored twice and they got taken off – not necessarily left off – they got taken off. We didn't have many opportunities in the first half and in the second half we didn't capitalize on any of those. We scored twice and got both of them taken off the board and then we had a couple other opportunities. The drive with five-and-a-half minutes left for six or so that we had when down 18-13, I felt when we went out there that this was the drive we had to have to win it right here. Our defense had done a heck of a job keeping them out of the end zone, but I just felt like I've been here and played these guys too many times to where [you know] when you punt it with four [minutes left] you don't get in back until there's not much [time] left and you're really fighting an uphill battle. I missed Tyrell Williams on that go route – it was just a little over thrown – I thought it had a chance to be a home run. That drive stalled there on the third down – I think they deflected that third down pass to Travis Benjamin. [We] just had missed opportunities. I think we can be encouraged by this game. I don't think this is the best Patriots team they've had in the last decade – I don't think they would say that this is the best team they've [had] in decade. They're still really good. They've beaten us just about every time I've trotted out there against them. They're sitting there at 6-2 at the top. They're going to be playing in January, so something you can take from it is, again, there are no participation trophies, but we are right there. We came to their place and we're right there as a lot of teams have been this year against them and we just didn't find a way to get it done.
Q: What was supposed to happen on that last play?
PR: I was throwing an end route right there trying to see if we could get it caught right there at the goal line. We have those in the game plays you work on. We were right there on the cusp of, 'Do we call that or just kind of throw a jump ball?' It's tough. I don't know if [Mike Williams] ended up slipping. I didn't think it was going to be complete either way. There was a guy setup right there on the goal line, but that's not the play that beat us by any means.
Q: The way you played during this four game stretch when you went 3-1 do you feel you're kind of figuring out how you need to play for this particular team to be successful?
PR: I think so. We hadn't turned it over but the one time in New York – I'm talking about in the passing game –we didn't turn it over but that one time until the last one today which I don't really count. I know it counts, but I don't really count it. We're doing a better job of not turning the football over. I'm speaking to myself now. The one thing though that we have not found the recipe for yet is that we need to score more points. The thing that hurts the most for me is that I keep seeing other teams score into the teens and us not win and I hate that for our defense – I hate that. For one, we as an offense are used to scoring a lot of points all the time and we just haven't been able to score as many points. We've done a lot of good things, but we haven't been scoring many points and that's the area – I think the most – that will reflect on the scoreboard. You have to score more than the other team. We need to get that taken care of in the second half of the season.
Q: With the way the defense is playing are you not taking maybe as many risks on offense?
PR: Yeah. Maybe. Again, if we were able to keep those two touchdowns on the board, then you're sitting right around 30. I don't know. I do see that certainly the way our defense is playing maybe there's going to be some 24-21 wins or 24-10 wins the way our [defense] is playing. As good as our defense is – I believe in them they shutout a team last week that hadn't been shutout in 25 years. When we score 13, I just don't know that the percentages [will have] you winning, in the league, period. I'm sure league wide it's probably not a very high percentage of teams win with 13 points.
Q: Did you want to go for it in on fourth down the first quarter?
PR: It was close. It's hard to know what you really thought after the fact. Had we drilled the field goal, you start off the game three to nothing, we had a pretty good drive together and when you don't make it you starting thinking. I don't know. It was the first drive of the game – we moved it – felt good going in that direction and [we] just didn't make it.
Q: You mentioned the two touchdowns taken off the board. As an offense how do you recover from that in the moment?
PR: I was probably running some situation together. I don't remember exactly what happened after the one where Tryell had stepped out of bounds. In that drive, I think it may have been the one where I lost the ball shortly after that or I slipped up trying to lay one to [Antonio Gates]. I don't know how good of a chance we had but it slipped out. Then we punted there and the other time – the other [score] they pulled off the board – we had the long one to Tyrell that was close. It just barely got out. I thought we handled it fine. We handled both of those things fine. It's just frustrating though, especially on the Travis [Benjamin] one because that's going to be one we're going to hear back from saying they we're right, but it's too late.
Q: Of all the losses you've had this year this one is a little different. When you look at all the mistakes how is this one going to sit with you?
PR: Well I think we will take some positives from it just because we didn't play our best game today. We had the ball with a chance in a one score game. Again, with two touchdowns taken off the board, with a couple mistakes in all three phases that we know better than, so I think we know we didn't play our best game and yet still had a chance. That didn't make us very happy, but at least we know where we stand. It's not like we feel defeated like we had no chance. We get a week off. We've battled our way back. Honestly I always believe we're going to win every game and sitting at 0-4 I said, if we can somehow get to 3-5 at the bye we'll be in the hunt and we did that. Should have been 4-4 but we [aren't]. There is little room for error, but we have an eight game season with everything out there still.
Q: How do you think Dan Feeney played today?
PR: I have to see the tape on that. I know he was in there and he was scrappy. His demeanor was great. I thought everybody battled hard. I don't remember the last time we had a -yard touchdown run. I think it was Michael Turner in 2005.
Q: Never... That was the longest in franchise history.
PR: So close. Michael Turner's was probably right there. LaDainian Tomlinson had one. It had been years. In 2005 against the Colts we had one that reminded me of that. That was awesome. We have to do better third down. I think we were 3-for-9 or something like that. When you make those kind of mistakes against a world championship team and that's what they are, it's hard to win. You can beat some teams making mistakes like we've made today and you overcome them and think, 'If we had gotten those two we would have won by three scores,' but when you do that against this group you probably aren't going to win.
Q: Did the safety change the complexion of the game?
PR: Obviously, it didn't help. They missed two field goals, too. It's one of those things where no one played a perfect game. Travis and those big plays he made – the catch he made on the one touchdown that got called back was unreal. He gave us a chance late in the game again to score. He caught the touchdown – Travis was the biggest key in us winning last week offensively. He's going to tell you that you made a bad decision and you move on and live with it. I made some myself today. We win as a team, we lose as a team, we all had our share of mistakes, we just had too many to overcome.
Q: How do you use the bye week to get ready for the second half of the season?
PR: I think it's a perfect time. Obviously, it's at the halfway mark so that worked out nicely to just try to mentally rest a little bit. Losing the way that we did in those first four – the way we lost – those beat you down and then you're just fighting and fighting to find a way to be tough enough to battle back and then we've gotten ourselves here and this one kind of knocks you back down again a little bit. I think really, just trying to take a deep breath and get away a little bit and come back fired up – the guys spirit in the locker room is pretty good right now because I think we just see it. Not very often but I've been on teams and in situations where you just go, 'I don't know how we're going to try to get out of this'. When you see this group you just know we're capable. If we do or not, I don't know. Only 12 teams do it well enough to play into January and only one team ultimately does it well enough, but we are capable and I think that's why you'll have a an exciting, hungry, healthier team come back ready to go to Jacksonville in two weeks.