Chargers Quotebook

Chargers players and coach Norv Turner talk about Sunday's 32-3 win over the Denver Broncos. Hear from Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, Malcom Floyd and others about the atmosphere in Mile High, and get the latest injury updates from Turner.

Player Transcripts – Sunday, November 22, 2009

QB PHILIP RIVERS

On differences between the last time you played Denver

"Well, I think in that game, obviously they brought a lot of blitzes. It was a combination of a lot of things. In this game, and as we have the whole year, especially these last four weeks, the guys up front have been unbelievable and protective and then in this game they did not blitz near as much so they kind of surprised us. They didn't bring as much as they brought in the early game. They are pass rushers and our guys up front did a great job. I think I was touched one time that I remember. It was kind of a weird game but we were efficient and able to gain control early. It was nice having a fourth quarter when we were running the ball and as we saw before in that time of the game that's when you pile up the rushing yards. It was nice to get that done today."

On two of the Chargers' best back-to- back games

"No question [these were our best games] at a crucial part of the season. You obviously don't want to start slow. We fought back early this year and we are playing our best ball and hopefully we can keep going that way."

On leading the division

"To be honest we didn't think we'd be in the position we are in division wise at this point. I think we had the right approach. We worry about us, we don't worry about anyone else. We didn't think we'd be tied at this game, but we were and now we're ahead. It's just that it's not Week 17 of the season so we can't relax and we have to keep going strong because we can still keep getting a lot better."

On playing well as the season progresses

"I think if you look across the league at teams that give themselves a chance late in the year, they generally are playing their best. That's something that we've been able to do is play our best late in the season. Usually the teams that are doing that have a chance late in the postseason. We're not there yet but we're headed in the right direction. I think this year's been different. I know the records showed 2-3 at one point, but I don't think it was as slow of a start. I know you are what your record is, but we were doing a lot of really good things. You look up and we were 2-3 because some plays got away from us. I felt like we are already further ahead than were a few years ago, so I don't feel like we are that far off. We just keep improving. I think the best thing we've done all year, and maybe any year since I've been here, is have the focus about us and about the preparation from week to week. This is an excited locker room and it should be, but no one's really caught up in the hoopla. We've won five in a row but we're very focused and very grounded in our approach, which has had a lot to do with the success we've had in the last few weeks."

RB LADAINIAN TOMLINSON

On leading the division after starting the season 2-3

"We knew it was a long season and things happen. Anything is possible; who would have thought last year that we would get in the playoffs, but we did."


RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Jaime Squire/Getty
On differences between the last time you played Denver

"Obviously we didn't give up two special teams touchdowns today. We drove the ball today: ran the ball and threw the ball. Our D [defense] played incredible. To hold them to three points; they have an outstanding offense. Our defense has been incredible."

On improving their pass protection

"We worked a little extra on better protection and better blitz schemes. We couldn't go down the field as much as usual. We just went with quick passing to make sure [QB] Philip [Rivers] could stay standing."

On Denver putting QB Kyle Orton into the game

"I was surprised Orton didn't start the game. I saw him pregame and he looked good throwing the ball. He came in and they got moving. To their credit, they started moving, but we made more plays."

WR MALCOM FLOYD

On the win

"We have been on a roll and starting off fast. We didn't have any turnovers today. We were keeping our penalties to a minimum and most of the time we did have penalties, they were offset. We just made big plays."

On the performance of the offense

"It's great when you can keep your defense off the field and control time of possession. We did a great job at that today."

On leading the division

"It feels great, but K.C. [Kansas City] just beat Pittsburgh, so we have got to get ready for them."

OLB SHAWNE MERRIMAN

On being healthy

"I feel great now, getting over that groin injury. I feel better and better each week. Outside of that injury, being out of football for a year, it has been a progression just getting back to 100 percent."

On beating Denver

"I'd love to say it's just another game, but we were playing for first in the division. This game meant a lot to a lot of us."

On leading the division

"It is huge for us to be hitting our stride at this time. We would have loved to have started off 3-0, but we didn't do that. We've had to find a way to get it done the last few weeks, and we have."

SS STEVE GREGORY

On second quarter fumble recovery in the endzone

"I didn't know if he was down or not, the ball just popped out by my feet. They tried to twist my arm under there, but I just held onto it."

On the performance of the defense

"We did a good job at mixing it up and getting pressure on their quarterback. We were flying around and playing together. We need to keep getting better, and things will keep falling into place."

On the Broncos

"They are a good team. They've hit a rough patch here lately, but they came out and played hard, but we got the best of them today."

ILB STEPHEN COOPER


LB Stephen Cooper
Harry How/Getty
On the improvement of the defense

"I think a big thing is getting familiar with the guys on the field. Earlier in the year, we had a lot of guys hurt. Now our young guys are stepping up and playing like pros."

On their current winning streak

"We never panicked. Look up and down our roster and you will see all Pro Bowl caliber players. We are supposed to be winning and we weren't doing it earlier in the season, but now we are."

On Denver putting QB Kyle Orton into the game

"I think the biggest thing for them is that it was like Willis Reed coming back into the [Madison Square] Garden. They started playing fast and moving the ball around, but then that fumble in the endzone cost them the momentum."

Norv Turner Press Conference Transcript – Monday, November 23, 2009

(Injury update)

"I'll give you the best update I can on injuries. Jeromey Clary has a ligament strain. It's going to be a period of time before he's able to play. I can't give you an exact number because we don't have one. They're doing all the different tests right now and we'll know how serious it is over the next couple of days. It's his left ankle, opposite of the injury he had (last week). Luis Castillo has a strained calf and as we have with these, we'll see where he is on Wednesday, what he's able to do. It'll be a late in the week decision I'm sure, Saturday or Sunday maybe even, if he's able to play. Shawne Merriman came out and went back in with his foot but our guys feel that he'll be pretty good, that he'll be alright. Nick Hardwick I think will again practice some on Wednesday and we'll just see how he's progressing. (Brandyn) Dombrowski went in and played right tackle and I would expect that would be what we'll do Sunday in the game for Clary. I thought Brandyn went in and played pretty well in the situation he was put in."

(Introductory statement)

"Before I talk about the game, a couple of things that I found interesting, I've been coaching in this league a long time in the same division and you start believing some things that have been true. Sometimes you say it and you wonder if it still is true. A couple of the things that I've always talked about is how hard it is to play in Kansas City and the talent that Oakland has, particularly on their defensive front and their overall ability. When you go beat a team like that, sometimes people assume, ‘You went to Kansas City and you should beat them because they're not very good,' or ‘You beat Oakland because they aren't (very good).' Then you turn around and see Kansas City beat Pittsburgh and Oakland beat Cincinnati, two pretty good football teams, then it starts to reconfirm some of the things I believe. Maybe I haven't lost it completely in terms of understanding completely what this league is all about."

"From a standpoint of our game, as I said after the game, it's the most complete game we've played. It was nice to be in that situation in the fourth quarter that we've talked about. I think Kevin (Acee) asked me last week about the running game. ‘Is that what we want to get out of the running game?' I said, ‘What I'd love to do is get in a game where we have that type of lead where we can just grind on them and pound and wear someone down. We were able to do that and our offensive line appreciates it and our backs appreciate it and our defense appreciates it. I think that was good. I think you get into games like that by playing great in the kicking game like we did. Obviously we were hurt in the first game against these guys. I thought our coverage was outstanding. You play defense the way we did. We created big plays. We got the sack/fumble at the beginning of the game that changed the game dramatically. We got the fumble down in there (near the goal line), those things do happen. Then offensively, we continue to play better. I think we've gotten comfortable with the changes we had to make at the beginning of the season. Scott Mruczkowski has continued to play well. Louis Vasquez has played well at the right guard spot. That combination of things has really helped us."


Coach Norv Turner
Stephen Dunn/Getty
(on what the Chargers have proved about the NFL with their turnaround)

"The biggest thing to me is we have a serious situation with Jeromey Clary's injury. We're going to have to handle that. (It's) a combination of how Brandyn plays and how we manage it. After the Oakland game, the opener, we have five of those situations. We had our running back out, we had our right guard out, we had our center out, we had our nose man out and we had a couple other guys that certainly weren't at full speed and able to play. Then we were trying to bring in new people. That's a process. It's not going to happen overnight. I think we can get to where people want us to be. To me it takes everyone believing that we can do that. This has shown and what it should show our players and everyone involved is if you believe in something, you keep doing it over and over and you keep working to get better, then good things can happen for you. We've been fortunate. The win in New York was an amazing win. If you can win games like that along the way, you can continue to build momentum."

(on his awareness of the AFC playoff picture)

"I think when you start getting to this point in the season around Thanksgiving you do, but I do a pretty good job of not falling into that trap. I know this is a hard week to prepare. I know there are teams that handle the Thanksgiving week better than others. I've been involved in a number of the Thanksgiving games. Sometimes I think you're better off playing on Thanksgiving Day because you get right into it. We'll practice earlier on Thursday. Our guys will be off in the afternoon for Thanksgiving. There's a lot going on around our team right now with the honoring the Greatest Chargers. A lot of our guys are involved in that. We just came off a big win, so there are a lot of things that could distract us. My focus is going to be on making sure that doesn't happen."

(on the challenges involved in maintaining success)

"The best thing about it is that we're not anywhere near where we can be. We've got a lot of young players that I think get better each week. A week ago I thought Marcus McNeill played his best game of the year. He came back and had an equally as good performance. Louis Vasquez missed 2 ½ games so, what's he, playing in his seventh NFL game? There are a lot of areas where we can just continue to get better. We keep trying to grow from a scheme standpoint. I think some of the things we're doing with our different guys are helping us get better. We're finding different ways to get different people the football. We're finding different ways to use all our talented guys and get them in positions where they can make plays."

(on Kansas City's play Sunday being a good reminder for the Chargers)

"A team coming off two big wins like Kansas City is, I think helps our guys. The most important thing for them is to put the film on and when we watch our first game, there are some physical matchups and there are some plays that we made because we were in the right place at the right time. There were some plays that they made. We had some very positive things happen for us in that game. Again, this league is such a one or two play league. The great example is the fumble in the red zone that Denver had. If they score there, it's a 13-7 game and it's going to be a barn burner. They didn't score. We were fortunate on that play and it changed the game completely."

(on the possibility of Clary being out for the year)

"I think that would be premature, but that is a concern of mine, yes."

(on his comfort with the depth at offensive tackle)

"It's crazy how things happen. Dombrowski took all the snaps last week and we were prepared to play with Brandyn. Once Jeromey was able to go Friday, obviously we were going to go that route. It bought a week for Brandyn. He'll be a week better. He'll prepare again this week the same way and he'll be ready to play."

(on what he likes about Dombrowski)

"He actually played on the left side all preseason. He's a talented, physical young player. If you would have asked me that question in August, I would have said he's a year away from playing, but that changes. It changed the first night of the season. He's handled things extremely well. He gets a lot of help and encouragement from the offensive linemen and he's just done what we've asked him to do."

(on LaDainian Tomlinson's health)

"I haven't talked to LT yet. I think he feels pretty good. He took a pretty good shot in the ribs but I think he'll be fine by the end of the week."

(on how his play calling is affected by what running back is in the game)

"I really try not to let it affect it. We're tied into situational football and what's happening in the game. We have a pretty good plan in terms of what we're trying to get done. I don't put limitations on Darren Sproles. He can do the things we need him to do and he's a great change of pace guy for LT. I know there are some thoughts that he shouldn't be in there on 3rd-and-1, but he's actually a very good short-yardage runner when we block the play properly. The problem we get is when we get too many guys in there he's obviously not going to move the pile. There's some thought with Jacob (Hester) and Tolbert with the way they ran yesterday that we can mix them in a little bit in those situations."

(on how much he's personally considered Hester and Tolbert as short-yardage runners)

"No question. We talked about it this morning. My first choice obviously is LT. Darren has done a good job with it. He's been in a couple difficult situations where he had no chance, but both Jacob and Michael Tolbert have a bigger body. They can move the pile a little bit and find a crease and still get some extra yardage I think."

(on Tolbert's increased involvement in the offense)

"I think it's just the way games came up. Against Philadelphia it was a specific play against something that we thought we could be from them in that situation. He and Jacob are almost going 50-50 in terms of snaps. It just happened he was in the game when the play was called. I don't have a preference. I like them both and they're both capable of doing the things we need to do. What's really helped us by playing both of them on offense, they both make great contributions on special teams. That combination, we're getting the most out of those two guys. Michael has always shown that he's got great ability with the ball in his hands. I don't like his dance in the end zone. He's a little loose down there doing that dance, but if he keeps getting in there I guess we've got to keep letting him do it."

(on Tolbert's strengths versus those of Hester and vice versa)

"I think they're very similar. They're both very, very competitive guys."

(on his use of trick plays)

"We're trying. We try to have two or three up every week whether they get called or not. When LT throws the ball, it's a good thing. When he's throwing it to Philip and Philip gets to throw it, it's even a better thing. When you're throwing to Gates it makes it outstanding."

(on the play being a reaction to the onside kick Denver tried)

"No, it really wasn't. It's something that we wanted to use in that area of the field. We had two drives kind of stall out in that 30-yard line area. We kicked a 48-yard field goal. I thought it gave us a chance to get down inside the 10 and it did. It got us to the two."

(on how off the field distractions can impact a team)

"The reason I chose not to comment on it, and I will at the right time, is there are some facts being gathered and unfortunately sometimes these reports are correct and sometimes they aren't. We're lucky. We have a mature group of guys. We have an intelligent group of guys and we have great leadership. Unfortunately you have these issues. Our guys have done a great job of not letting them distract them from doing what they need to do in terms of football."

(on what he tells his players in situations like this)

"It starts to me with the NFL. The NFL has done a great job for a number of years now with the rookies with the rookie symposium, with player programs. We try to follow up in terms of everything we can. There are decisions that we all have to make on a daily basis. We try to give our guys as much information as we can."

(on having his players work Monday)

"We've had a couple of Mondays off. I don't like doing it too many weeks in a row. I know our guys would have loved to have today off, but I thought it was important to get our guys back in. We have a complicated week. There's a lot going on. There's a Charger Blood Drive tomorrow that our guys take part in and have forever. It's a big deal to them. They'll spend a lot of their day tomorrow there. Obviously we've got Thanksgiving. We've got a short schedule. Friday there is a Block Party where they're honoring the Greatest Chargers so I just thought getting in here today, getting started on the week and giving them a plan for what we need to get done this week was important.

(on if he talks to opposing players before games)

"Not a group. I have some guys that I've always talked to in a friendly way. Troy Vincent, when we'd try to beat him on a double move route, he'd always look over at me and say, ‘Why are you wasting your time, Norv?' Never before a game I don't think."

(on if he "owns" any guys)

"I don't own my own kids."

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