The Chargers had misplaced three of 4 video games, misplaced their grip on a playoff spot, misplaced every thing however their head coach.
Oh, he was subsequent on the checklist, a rising section of the media — each conventional and social — casting apart Brandon Staley in favor of the ever-lurking Sean Payton.
“Everybody hears the noise,” Chargers heart Corey Linsley stated. “But the whole world changes week to week in the NFL.”
It certain does, which is why, over the course of three weeks, the entire world surrounding this workforce modified dramatically.
The Chargers received three in a row and, in what felt like a finger snap, clinched a postseason berth because the three groups instantly behind them within the AFC standings went a mixed 1-8.
The Payton speak has slowed and now the Chargers are getting ready for his or her first playoff look in 4 years by assembly the Rams on Sunday on their shared turf of SoFi Stadium.
“With all that noise, if we had paid attention to it, we might have caved,” Linsley stated. “But we had faith in everybody the whole time. We just had to keep pushing.”
The 9-6 Chargers entered Week 17 sixth within the convention and with the potential of nonetheless shifting up or down one spot over their last two regular-season video games.
As for his or her first playoff opponent, any one of many 5 groups forward of them stays a risk.
Solely this a lot is for certain: On the weekend of Jan. 14-15, the Chargers will play on the highway.
This franchise final appeared within the postseason in January 2019 beneath former coach Anthony Lynn. These Chargers received at Baltimore earlier than shedding at New England with a spot within the AFC title sport at stake.
In his second season, Staley’s general file is 18-14, his Chargers surging in December behind a protection that has executed his scheme in dominant type.
Staley was requested how massive of a step qualifying for the playoffs is for this workforce and franchise.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a big step,” he answered. “It’s the right step. You have to make the playoffs in order to be a world champion. I think that is a good place to start. That’s where we expected to be.”
With seeding place in play, the Chargers even have the motivation of attempting to rediscover an offensive move that has been absent recently, the surface buzz shifting to coordinator Joe Lombardi’s future.
Justin Herbert has been sacked extra during the last six video games than throughout any stretch of his younger profession, and the Chargers have reached the top zone solely seven instances of their 42 full possessions since Week 13.
“We just have to get in sync because we’re moving the football, and there are a lot of good plays in there,” Staley stated. “But it’s just been up and down. It’s going to take everybody. It’s not just one person.
“I wish I could tell you that it’s just this one aspect of the offense, but it’s not. It’s all of us playing together and creating that rhythm and timing that will lead to scoring the football.”
One other Chargers’ aim over the subsequent two video games: prepared edge rusher Joey Bosa for the postseason. Out since struggling a core-muscle harm in late September that required surgical procedure, Bosa returned to follow Thursday.
He’ll play in opposition to the Rams — probably on a restricted snap depend — in an try and ramp up his exercise heading into the regular-season finale. Bosa pronounced himself totally wholesome and feeling higher than he has in a minimum of two years.
All of which added to the feel-good story that has been wrapped round this workforce over the previous few weeks, the Chargers overcoming accidents, uneven efficiency and rumor to succeed in the very place so many individuals forecast them to succeed in 4 months in the past.
“I think our path to get here, no one could have predicted that,” Staley stated. “That’s what I am happy about. We were able to earn our way there. The way that we earned our way there, I think that is significant.”
The Chargers have an opportunity to earn slightly extra. Their best journey to the No. 5 seed can be profitable every of the subsequent two weeks and Baltimore shedding certainly one of its last two, both at dwelling in opposition to Pittsburgh or at Cincinnati.
As a way to transfer up, there’s nonetheless lots that has to go proper for a workforce that — over three season-turning weeks — has performed itself into an encouraging house.
“We got a lot of fight in us,” broad receiver Keenan Allen stated. “Tough, tough group of guys. We’ve been fighting, fighting. It’s been paying off.”