They open the NFL preseason schedule Saturday night, the battle of LA, if you will.
The Chargers play the Rams, in a matchup of two teams possibly headed in different directions.
The Rams, two years removed from their Super Bowl celebration, caved in with a combination of age and injuries causing a miserable (5-12) season.
The Bolts got to the playoffs and lost a horrid game to Jacksonville, a terrible but possibly painful learning experience.
Now they open the summer schedule against each other, with the Chargers loaded on offense to try and chase down Kansas City. The Rams are facing a massive rebuild under coach Sean McVay who did not like what experienced last year.
You draft players, you sign free agents, you grow young talent. Lots of ways to build a roster.
The biggest intangible might be what Brandon Staley did, changed out all 3-coordinators. In fact the biggest acquisition might be the new Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore, coming in from the Dallas Cowboys.
A bright light guy who did lots of things to help Dallas put up big offensive numbers. Now he takes over, inheriting Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, a loaded wideout group and a talent filled young offensive line.
Moore wrapped up his preparation week talking about what he wants to see on Saturday night vs the other team from LA.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR KELLEN MOORE
On ‘walking the line of being aggressive and taking care of the ball’:
“I think the biggest thing is that it’s just a constant conversation. It’s assessing different situations, different circumstances, different plays. We want to be aggressive. I don’t think that any offense doesn’t want to be aggressive. We want to present opportunities to take a deep shot or take a bigger play, but at the same time, make good decisions. If they’re not there, move on, and that gives us opportunities to keep going. [QB] Justin [Herbert] has done that throughout his career in such a phenomenal way, so we’re really excited about it.”
On Herbert’s ‘risk versus taking care of the ball’:
“I think that he has done a nice job. Every game is different, right? There are different circumstances, whether it’s on your team or the other team. I think that he has really done a phenomenal job of taking care of the football. Obviously, everyone knows his statistics through his first three years. He has taken care of the ball extremely well. He’ll continue to do that. Hopefully, we get a few more opportunities. Certainly, these receivers have tremendous talent to get down the field, so we’re really excited about that.”
On ‘trying to convince’ Herbert ‘to take more chances’:
“I haven’t sensed that. I think that he has, certainly, done a phenomenal job so far in this camp. Camp is about evaluating yourself and testing yourself in different ways. Justin has, I think, done that in a really good way.”
On his takeaways from the scrimmage:
“The scrimmage was a day in this process. It didn’t start great, certainly had some sacks in that game and just some lack of flow. I think that our guys settled in. We got into some situational ball, which was good. Hopefully, you learn from that thing and keep building.”
On if he is ‘looking forward to seeing the running backs in a game situation’:
“Yes. Preseason games are so phenomenal for running backs, just because it’s finally their chance to really show, ultimately, what they are able to do. We have such a great group here that is going to have these awesome opportunities to hop in there, get some rushing attempts, make the plays out in space, make great decisions out in space. I’m really excited for those guys.”
On what he is ‘looking for’ out of the offense on Saturday night:
“Number one is operation, just a clean operation and that our guys are on the same page, communicating really well. Certainly, as preseason games progress, a lot of the younger guys will get a lot of opportunities. We’re really excited about those guys, just getting a chance to go play free, play football, trust yourself — you’re here for a reason — and go for it.”
On ‘working the Middle 8 today’ and that particular situation:
“I think that a really cool part of this training camp process that [Head Coach] Brandon [Staley] has really emphasized is just all of the situational football. Yesterday, we talked about starting the game fast and emphasizing the start of the game. We talked about the Middle 8 today, spent a lot of time about how you can play off of each other and how critical those can flip games when you steal points before the half, and then get an opportunity to take the ball in the second half. Those are big, big game-changing moments. We have to emphasize it, be aware of it, that these are critical things that influence games.”
On if there is a ‘plan’ for how much each player will play on Saturday night:
“No, no plan yet. We’ll get there probably in the next day or two.”
On Herbert ‘through the eyes of a former quarterback’:
“Justin [Herbert] has, certainly, the physical things that we all see and recognize, but I think that his preparation, the way that he sees the game, the way that he processes the game, is at a really special level. I’m really excited to see him continue to grow in that way.”
On what ‘stands out physically’ about Herbert:
“Certainly, he has the size, he has a very talented arm that we all see. I think that he moves really well. He has made some plays with his legs, I think that has been a really exciting part about this process, that he is going to be able to explore and take advantage of.”
On WR Quentin Johnston:
“Quentin [Johnston] has done a nice job. The other three guys have, certainly, been here for a number of years, so it has been awesome for him to have those guys there, to lean on and to grow, while watching those guys, and then hopping in there. He’s taking advantage of each and every opportunity. We’re excited to keep building it.”
On Johnston and ‘making sure that the team isn’t putting too much on his plate’:
“It’s just a process where you expose it to him. Like any player on our team, we expose him to a lot of football during training camp. Every day, there is something new. The wheels are always turning. As we get closer to games and, certainly, the regular season, we start building out roles and packages that they can focus on, that allow them to still play fast and play with all of the talent that they have.”