The Chargers turned the ball over 12 times in their final three preseason games, inexcusable seeing as they weren't exactly running the fun-and-gun offense. Two of those turnovers were returned for touchdowns, and this team is not good enough to be spotting opponents points like that. Luckily, the Chargers insist that sloppy trend ended along with the preseason.
"Now it is time to get for real," Philip Rivers said.
The Chargers now prepare to return to the Bay Area, where they will kickoff the regular season against the rival Raiders. Marty Schottenheimer will no doubt have his team fired up for the game. It's a good thing, too, because this is a team that needs to prove it hasn't regressed behind its new quarterback.
"The one thing is whatever it takes to win," Rivers said. "It is my job to lead us and keep things going. With the help of defense and special teams we will get it done."
It is nice to see Rivers remains optimistic, but it is clear that optimism isn't the result of the team's preseason play.
Rivers sat out the preseason finale as a precaution after he was hit hard the game prior, resulting in a bruised shoulder and a third lost fumble in the game against the Seahawks.
Rivers, however, is a natural leader. He understands the importance of staying even-keeled, and that demeanor has earned him the trust of his coaches and teammates. That is an important step in the continued success of a team with playoff aspirations. The Chargers may not be a finished product, but they know they are getting close.
"We are still a work in progress," allowed Schottenheimer. "Our front seven has stepped up. Our secondary is improved. We have two of the best kickers in the league. The offensive line is going to be the focus. I feel confident we will get things done to be successful."
Getting things started against a rebuilding Raiders team will help. It will be important for the Chargers to come out and set the tempo in Oakland so that Rivers does not feel pressured to play beyond himself.
Schottenheimer is ensuring the team is ready to rally around its quarterback in what is sure to be a hostile environment.
"Raider week has begun," Schottenheimer smiled.
While for Schottenheimer and most of his team that Monday night showdown will be the culmination of Raider week, for Rivers, it'll be more like judgment day.