Anthony Lynn hopes the 2019 Chargers can be as resilient and as focused as 2018 team
Anthony Lynn likes to preach the important of succeeding in situational football.
Last season, Lynn’s team certainly succeeded when the situation was most crucial. The Chargers won particularly tight games against San Francisco, Tennessee, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and, in the playoffs, at Baltimore.
“What we did was finish games,” Lynn said. “If you look in there, there are four or five games we won in the last second. I guess in years past, we’ve been losing those.”
In respective order for those five games, the Chargers won with an interception in the final three minutes, by stopping a two-point conversion with 31 seconds to go, with a pass breakup in the end zone on the final play, on a field goal on the final play, and with a two-point conversion with four seconds left and on a strip sack in the final 30 seconds.
They won late with offense, defense and special teams.
“This team figured out a way to start winning those games,” Lynn said. “That’s just a testament to our locker room and our organization.”
The Los Angeles Chargers ranked last in the NFL in touchback average last season. Kicker Michael Badgley is hoping to change that in 2019.
Lynn said he thinks the franchise relocation from San Diego before the 2017 season helped toughen his team and made for a more resilient bunch. Including the postseason, the Chargers finished 7-1 in one-score games a year ago. They’ve won eight of their past nine one-score games dating to Week 16 of the 2017 season.
“We’re going to continue to emphasize the things that I think it takes to finish games,” Lynn said. “We’re going to continue to emphasize the things that I think it takes to get better. We need to just keep improving.”
He connected multiple times over the middle with Hunter Henry and then for touchdowns with Mike Williams and Travis Benjamin. Philip Rivers was on target for much of the Chargers’ joint practice Thursday with the New Orleans Saints.
Afterward, the veteran quarterback kept firing — in classic, good-guy Rivers style.
The subject was running back Melvin Gordon, who remains absent from training camp because of a contract dispute. Specifically, Rivers was asked if he can appreciate Gordon’s situation. He talked about the importance of being supportive of teammates and balancing that against moving forward to prepare for the season. He said he was pulling for Gordon. He explained that he wanted Gordon back as soon as possible.
“I doubt anything I just said will make PFT headlines,” Rivers concluded. “But I think those who know me well know that’s what I meant all along.”
Rivers was smiling at the end, while the reporters gathered around him laughed, knowing precisely what he was talking about.
“PFT” was a reference to Pro Football Talk, which last month interpreted a Rivers quote regarding Gordon’s holdout and the Chargers’ depth at the position as a shot at the running back.
When the quote and a subsequent story were posted on social media, Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu reacted and Gordon responded to Mathieu by posting, “Wild right!!”
Rivers explained Thursday that he believed some of the meaning was lost when his words were transcribed.
“If you watch it, like anything, you hear it,” he said. “You hear the tone. That’s why text messages can get you in trouble sometimes too. ‘You didn’t hear me say it. I said it like this.’ So, all’s good.”
Receiver Keenan Allen missed practice Thursday because of what is believed to be an ankle injury suffered this week. Lynn described Allen as being “a little sore.”
Asked if Allen would be OK for the preseason game against the Saints, he said, “I’m sure if he was playing on Sunday, yeah, I’m sure he would.”
Allen isn’t expected to play as the Chargers continue to cut back on live snaps for their veterans. He missed the team’s preseason opener last week in Arizona because of fluid in his knee. In terms of preparation, Rivers has said he believes joint practices are much more valuable than preseason games.
Artavis Scott, unable to play in an NFL game in first two seasons, is trying to win a wide receiver position on the Chargers.
Asked Thursday if he could be ready for the regular season without taking a snap in the preseason, Rivers said: “Yeah. I’ll see you Sept. 8. I’ll be just fine.”
The appearance of the Saints this week means round three in the quarterback challenge concocted by Rivers and his good friend and New Orleans counterpart Drew Brees. After practice, the quarterbacks gather for a throwing competition, firing passes at various targets.
The teams split the first two rounds in 2017 and 2018. The Chargers won Thursday, with the competition set to continue Friday and Saturday.
“We got beat pretty good,” Brees said. “But the challenge itself was pretty good. … Philip said they named it ‘the county fair.’… It reminds me of trying to knock down the dummies at the county fair.”
The Saints will decide the specifics of Friday’s competition.
“Whatever happens, we’re going to make it all win-or-go home on Day Three, probably,” Rivers said. “It was a good start.”
Cornerback Trevor Williams remains out because of an undisclosed injury that Lynn admitted has lingered longer than he anticipated. …The Chargers and Saints will share the practice field again in Costa Mesa on Friday before meeting Sunday afternoon in Carson.
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