NT Jamal Williams (Warren Little/Getty)
The San Diego Chargers are off to a fast start in the standings (1-0), but their slow start on Monday against the Oakland Raiders has the team altering its approach for its game versus the Baltimore Ravens. SDBoltReport.com spoke with D-linemen Jamal Williams and Luis Castillo to get their perspectives.
Luis Castillo played a key role in San Diego’s 24-20 win over the Raiders. Although he finished with just one tackle and no sacks, he helped stabilize the defensive line by staying in the game despite an arm injury. The line, playing without starting end Jacques Cesaire, was thin already.
"Well, we didn’t get off to the start we need to," Castillo said. "I think [the Raiders] came out and did some really good things. But sometimes, you have to win ugly. We know that we need to start better, but it’s still a great victory."
Jamal Williams seconded Castillo’s thoughts on winning ugly.
"A win is a win in this game," Williams said. "Some games are pretty, some games are ugly. It just shows us where we need to improve in certain areas.
"Some games we are going to have to fight through it and this was one of those games. Especially since it’s a division opponent. They know everything about our personnel and we know everything about theirs, so it’s never going to be easy."
On the defensive side of the ball, things got a lot less ugly as the game progressed. After allowing 81 rushing yards in the first quarter, the Chargers permitted just 63 the rest of the way.
"We have things to improve every week," Williams said. "So once we find the holes we need to improve in, we’ll get the stuff done and get the ball rolling. So far, so good."
The defense is confident it will deliver a more consistent showing against the Baltimore Ravens, a belief that stems from coordinator Ron Rivera.
Having a full offseason to learn from Rivera has instilled the players with an unshakable optimism.
"We kind of got to know him on the run last year," Castillo said. "We got to know his personality as a defensive coordinator. To be able to put an offseason together where you can spend the time -- we really understand his strengths as a coordinator and he gets to understand our strengths as players -- it definitely makes a huge difference to the team once you get on the same page."
There may be more urgency to get on the same page this week, as the Chargers host a Ravens team that reached the AFC Championship game a season ago. That's a far cry from facing a Raiders squad that hasn't won more than five games in a season since 2002.
Nonetheless, the team recognizes it must brings its A-game on a weekly basis if the Chargers are to win their fourth consecutive AFC West title.
"We can’t overlook any team out here, obviously," Williams said. "[Monday’s game] was a win and you have to take one game at a time. That’s what we are taught throughout the years."
Added Castillo: "We all know what the final goal is: to get to a championship. We all feel like we have a long way to go, just like every other team in this league that eventually gets there. It takes a lot. It takes a lot in the offseason; it takes a lot in the season -- a little bit of luck and a lot of perseverance.
"You have to go out there day in and day out and play to your best because every team in this league is good enough to beat you."
The Chargers learned that lesson against the Raiders. They hope to apply it versus the Ravens.
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Editor's Note: Interviews with Williams and Castillo were done by Amberly Dressler, the publisher of AZRedReport.com and a regular contributor to SDBoltReport.com.