When teams are on a losing streak, they look towards their leaders for guidance from players who have been there before. The Chargers sit at 1-4. They have lost four games in a row. Last Monday night, they lost to New Orleans Saints after being up 17-points.
The Tuesday morning after the game, defensive tackle Linval Joseph stood up and spoke to the team. He told them the story about his former team, the 2011 New York Giants.
"It was about listening," explained Joseph. "It was just trying to understand what happened, and that was the year of the lockout. So that year we had a lot of injuries too. And everybody got healthy at the right time. And then once everybody got healthy, we got a little we started winning games, and we just kept winning games. And that's how we got that ring."
The Giants had a couple of players in and out of the lineup at the beginning of the season like defensive end Osi Umenyiora, defensive end Justin Tuck, and receiver Mario Manningham. They also lost starters cornerback Terrell Thomas and linebacker Jonathan Goff for the season.
The Bolts know about injuries. They have lost Melvin Ingram and Justin Jones for the short-term IR. They also have not had the right side of their offensive line in Bryan Bulaga and Trai Turner. They have lost all-pro safety Derwin James for the season.
The Giants started the season 6-2. They lost five of the next six and went into the playoffs at 9-7. Not much was expected of them. They beat the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, and San Francisco 49ers to set up a date with the New England Patriots.
Why does Joseph believe this team could be similar?
"We have a lot of great people on his team," said Joseph. "A lot of great athletes and a lot of guys that are hungry and want to win. They want to have those great accomplishments. So, having guys like that, that's not selfish, that wants to commit and do the right things. I like being around that."
Joseph also mentioned that he believes his new quarterback resembles his old quarterback.
"I feel like it was two different types of Eli," explained Joseph. "You have fun, Eli, and then you have get the job done, Eli, two minutes in the quarter. Fourth-quarter need this drive, and when he woke up, he made those big throws made those big plays. I see that in (Justin) Herbert. I really do. I feel like he's going to have a great career. And once we put everything in order, he's going to be elite."
Now bringing up Eli Manning stings Chargers fans, but that's a story for another day. One quality that Eli showed in both his playoff runs and Super Bowl wins was how clutch he was at the end of games. It seemed like he always had the ball late in games, and he would make incredible plays to help his team win.
In Super Bowl 46 against the New England Patriots, he hit Manningham for a 38-yard catch near the sideline with 3:30 left in the game. He drove his team down the field and scored the game-winning touchdown.
Manning learned how to win close games.
Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert has lost four games in a row, but he is learning. He is improving every game.
Herbert so far this season has thrown for 1,195 yards, nine touchdowns, and posted a 107.1 quarterback rating. He has been extraordinary this season. This is not the first time Joseph has complimented his rookie quarterback. He has said before that Herbert has the talent.
Joseph has been an underrated free agent signing for the Bolts. During training camp, he was seen helping younger players. On the football side, he has disrupted opposing offenses. When the running back gets a handoff and sees number 95, he runs into Joseph's teammate's arms.
"He's been tremendous," said Bradley. "I think he's been good for us as a standard. I mean, he's all about raising the bar and having him show what it should look like. And he's a veteran player that when he gets in there, and there's something new that takes place, a different blocking scheme, you know, certain things like that he's such a pro, he knows exactly how to play it. So, I've been very impressed with him."
The Chargers need to learn how to win. They have been up on the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and New Orleans Saints. They lost all three games.
This weekend they face the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have struggled this season as well. This could be their opportunity to turn their season around.
"We just got to do it," explained Joseph. "We just have to believe in ourselves and just get it done. I feel like it's going it's going to happen. I mean, when a storm comes, it's gone and make damage, but at the end of the day, it's going to finish, and then you just have to rebuild and do the best you can do. Right now, we're doing the best we can do from our situation, and I think it's time for it to flip over."