COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The 2019 season has offered plenty of new experiences for the Los Angeles Chargers' Shane Steichen. Just over a month ago, the young assistant coach became an offensive coordinator for the first time. When the Chargers hit their bye following a Nov. 18 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Steichen had another first: a week with nothing to do but review his work as an offensive play-caller.
"It was a lot of self-scout, just looking at what we're doing," Steichen says. "Obviously, it's just been on the three games that we had, but it was good just to see tendencies that have been showing up and trying to go from there."
Steichen didn't share what tendencies he found, but he emphasized the importance of breaking those trends to keep the offense from growing predictable. "I just want to see what we're doing, run-pass, down and distance, stuff like that," Steichen says.
One of the biggest advantages of a week with no opponent is the ability to make alterations in the offense and play-calling. Steichen says he looked into how he could evolve the offense during the bye, suggesting that he made some important tweaks over the past seven days.
"You look and see where you can add the wrinkles," Steichen says. "It's not a huge (shift). You don't have a whole month. But you got just the one week to look at and see. You can add your wrinkles and put a little stuff on it."
In his new role as offensive coordinator, Steichen must also find ways to help his quarterback. Philip Rivers has struggled over the past two games, tossing seven interceptions and fumbling away two other possession. Steichen says coaches have to strike the right balance of curtailing their signal-caller's mistakes without playing scared.
"We as coaches have to talk to him and do that stuff, obviously," Steichen says of Rivers. "And he knows that. He's a veteran player in this league and he knows what he's got to do to get better. Obviously, there's a fine line there. You know, you still want to be aggressive throwing the football. At the same time, make smarter decisions. And as a play-caller, sometimes you got to make better calls."
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH