"It's a marathon," Schottenheimer said of the fresh season.
The Chargers' 26.3-mile race picks up steam Sunday in Denver, where they face the Broncos.
Both teams sit at 0-1, which makes the stakes for this one all the much greater.
We know, we know. You can't win - or repeat, as is the Chargers' case - an AFC West title in September. Still, one team will exit Invesco Field at Mile High with a 0-2 mark, and one of those losses will add a black mark to the team's divisional record.
That's why Sunday's game is so critical - especially to the Chargers.
Look, if the Chargers go to 0-2 - which is a possibility considering they've won twice in their last 18 visits to Denver - they might be setting themselves up for quite a fall.
The Chargers have a daunting schedule, and to be frank, the early part of it was where they were supposed to load up on some victories.
To open against a rebuilding Dallas at home - Chargers thought they would win that one. Denver on the road - Bolts at least split with the Broncos last year. Giants at home - revved to stick it to Eli Manning for another win.
Then the schedule gets dicey, with five road trips three time zones away. Included in that slate is both Super Bowl participants, and the Jets and the Colts.
But quarterback Drew Brees - who is just five picks from matching his 2004 total four quarters into the season - said the Chargers will follow another Schottenheimer cliche: "one play at a time, one game at a time."
"It's easy to look down the schedule, look at those road trips and all the other stuff," Brees said. 'But if you take care of your business from week-to-week, at the end of the year you're going to look at your won-loss record and you're going to have a lot of wins and be headed to the playoffs."
Sounds simple enough. But the Chargers will likely have to play better than they did in the opening loss to Dallas if avoiding another pratfall.
And working against the Chargers might be what the Broncos did last Sunday.
They were embarrassed, 34-10, by a Dolphins team still introducing itself to one another with new head coach Nick Saban. Many times an NFL squad will rebound with gusto after absorbing a red face.
Plus, it's the home opener for the Broncos.
Plus, it was the Chargers who won the showdown last December between these teams with the AFC West lead on the line. Jake Plummer tossed four interceptions in that game, something the Chargers shouldn't count on in this one - although with Plummer, it is always a possibility.
Yep, it's a marathon all right. But as any marathon runner knows, there's no telling when they'll hit the wall. The Chargers are hopeful they don't encounter one Sunday in Denver.