Coach Lynn: "We have a tough football team"

Coach Anthony Lynn Conference Call with New England Media

Q: Was there much thought given to staying on the East Coast this week?

AL: There was some thought about doing that but we didn’t know what was going on with the other place. We would have had to plan to stay even if the game was in Kansas City. Yeah, we did. I just think it was a lot going on in a week to get that done and we just weren’t able to get it done. But we did give it some thought.

Q: You guys have gone into some tough venues and played some very physical teams. What are your thoughts on how your team has matched up physically against those teams and embrace that challenge?

AL: We have a tough football team, no doubt. I believe that. I think going on the road, it really doesn’t faze this team. We love ball, we like playing football, we like competing and we know going into Foxborough, they’re undefeated there and they’re tough to beat, period. It doesn’t matter where you play the Patriots; they’re tough to beat. They have a wealth of experience on their team and they’re well-coached by Coach [Bill] Belichick and his staff. We’re looking forward to coming out there but we know our hands are full.

Q: The Chargers and Patriots haven’t played each other very often the past few years but you have a lot of experience in the AFC East. Does that translate at all this week to helping you lay the groundwork?

AL: I am familiar with the Patriots but they sure got so many different ways to win. So sometimes you can overthink things. Being familiar with the personnel helps but the rosters in the NFL, they change a lot every year, so I’m not sure how much of an advantage that would be but yeah, I know the guys.

Q: There’s been a lot you guys have had to deal with going to London, moving the team and long road trips. How much have you relied on Philip Rivers as a leader and a steady force in the locker room?

AL: Well, we have a good group of captains and it’s not just one guy. We have Melvin Ingram, Russell Okung, Mike Pouncey’s the first alternate in his first year that he got here in the voting, Brandon Mebane’s been outstanding, Antonio Gates. We have some veteran leadership. It’s not just Philip. But Philip’s done an outstanding job. I like the way he leads and I like the way he helps players around him.

Q: How much has Michael Badgley meant to your team? I think he’s the seventh place-kicker for the Chargers since 2016.

AL: Yeah. He’s definitely brought some stability as far as field goals are concerned. I’ve been very happy with Mike in that regard. He has a lot of confidence in himself and that’s probably why I have so much confidence in him. He’s definitely helped.

Q: You were with Stephon Gilmore with the Bills. Are you seeing the same guy that you saw in Buffalo or has he improved over the last couple of years?

AL: He’s improved if you ask me. I know Stephon, know him very well. I thought last year, his first year there, he was kind of making his way through from maybe being in a different organization and this year, watching the tape, he looks like a completely different man. He looks lighter to me, he’s quicker on his feet, his coverage is tight, he’s physical. He’s a top corner in this league.

Q: Just curious if you were even aware that Philip Rivers has never beaten Tom Brady and what’s your reaction to that?

AL: No, I was not aware of that. But that’s in the past. That’s what I think about. It’s in the past. We have an opportunity to do it on Sunday so let’s make the most out of it.

Q: What have your impressions been of the Patriots offense? Their stats haven’t been quite as good this year as they’ve been in the past.

AL: Stats don’t win games. They figure out ways to win games and that’s all that really matters. They won the division, I think for the ninth straight time, and back in this same situation I don’t know how many times. But they figure out a way to win games and like I said, sometimes they go through the backs, sometimes they go through the receivers, tight ends and the defense will step up and make timely stops and they’re stingy in the red zone. So they just figure out a way to win games with what they have and that’s what’s most important.

Q: Does Tom Brady threaten your defense in the same ways he did last year?

AL: Yeah, definitely he does. I think Tom Brady threatens anybody’s defense, you know? He’s one of the best to ever play the game so any time you have him, it’s just signal-calling. That’s huge.

Q: You’ve been using a lot of safeties at the linebacker position. How have they been able to learn that role so quickly on the fly here?

AL: It’s been gameplan-specific. We don’t use that a lot but when we do use it, it has been effective for us. Those guys, I take my hat off to them. They get in there and they learn linebacker responsibilities, linebacker roles and they go out and they play at a high level. Just a very disciplined group of DBs and they’ll do whatever we ask them to do. Like I said, that’s more of a gameplan-specific deal. We don’t do that all the time.

Q: You guys seem to feel comfortable stopping the run even in nickel or dime defense. Can you talk a little bit about how you’ve developed that comfort level?

AL: Well, going into the offseason, that was a major emphasis on defense, was playing the run better and we have definitely done that. A lot of this was planning way back in April and I think you’re seeing some of the results now. Stopping the run has been something that we’ve taken some pride in and our pass-rushers, they’ve been very unselfish. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, they’re playing run techniques a lot of the times instead of pass techniques. I’m sure that’s costing them some sacks and us some pressure but we have to be able to stop the run. If you can’t stop the run, it’s going to be a long day.

Q: How much confidence do you have in your remaining linebackers Kyle Emanuel and Hayes Pullard if they do have to play in this game?

AL: A lot of confidence. Every time they’ve played, they’ve stepped up and answered the bell. So no problem at all with those men on the field. Even Kyle Wilson, he’s come a long ways. Young linebacker just doing a lot on special teams right now.

Q: The Patriots didn’t have Julian Edelman the last time you guys played them. How does he look to you at age 32 coming off the ACL tear?

AL: Well, I never would have known he’s 32 until you said it. He looks quick, man. He’s quick, he’s making plays and he looks like himself to me.

Q: What have you seen from Melvin Gordon since he’s come back and how has he responded to the return and the workload?

AL: He’s responding well. We’re definitely going to rest him today. He has sore knees but he’s a gamer. He lives to play in games like this and I’m highly confident that he’s going to play on Sunday. There’s not a lot of backs in the league right now that are 100 percent to be honest with you. He’s one of those guys that he’s not 100 percent but sometimes you don’t feel like it because of the way he competes.

Q: Does that mean he’s not practicing today?

AL: Yes.

Q: If there are slick conditions on Sunday, will that affect the way you use Melvin Gordon in the game?

AL: Well, I think any conditions are going to affect the way both sides play the game. We’ll make those adjustments and decisions when that time comes.

Q: How have you felt about your running backs in pass protection lately?

AL: I think those guys do a really good job. They take a lot of pride in that. They’ve had their moments for sure but over the course of the season, they’ve done a pretty good job in pass protection. And they’re going to have to do a good job on Sunday because New England linebackers – [Dont’a] Hightower, I mean, he’s a good rusher. There are some people that see that as a mismatch with him on a back and sometimes it is but you’ve got to rely on your technique and fundamentals and we’ve got to do a good job against him.

Q: What are your thoughts on the quarterback matchup as a fan of the game?

AL: I’m going to be focused on my 11 [players] against their 11 [players]. I think that’s good for the fans to look at the quarterback matchup, fans like that. But I kind of see it as our team against their team, to be honest with you.