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Tested road warriors

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Chargers’ travel planning has had a lot to do with team’s success this season


    By Kevin Acee, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
    Friday, December 25, 2009

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Norv Turner considered coming here to the South’s Hollywood later than usual, on Thursday, due to the Chargers not playing until 6:30 local time tonight.
    But he stuck to his plan.
    “When you (come the day before) you don’t get in there until 5 o’clock,” Turner said. “It didn’t fit for what we need to get done.”
    So far, Turner’s plans on the road have worked out, especially this season, wherein the Chargers can finish 7-1 on the road for the first time in franchise history with a victory over the Tennessee Titans.
    That victory, of course, would also give the Chargers the coveted No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs and give them a 12th victory for just the fifth time in 50 seasons of Chargers football.
    How the Chargers are on the brink of this kind of success is largely due to how they travel.
    “The biggest difference,” Turner said recently, “is we’ve played well against good teams on the road.”
    After the Chargers dropped a second home game Oct. 19 against the Denver Broncos, linebacker Shaun Phillips stood up in a team meeting and said, “We have to be beasts on the road.”
    So, in a way, this could all be chalked up to desperation.
    Since then, the Chargers haven’t lost, and they have counted among their nine straight victories road wins over the New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys.
    That success away from home is uncharacteristic both for the franchise and the league.
    Since 1990, just 20 NFL teams have finished a season 7-1 or 8-0 on the road while teams have gone 4-4 or worse 425 times in that span.
    The Chargers had gone .500 or worse on the road 34 times in their previous 49 seasons.
    The most common explanation from players regarding the improvement on the road is a collective maturity.
    “I think it’s the experience — guys who know how to go on the road, know how to be prepared when you travel, know how to start the game fast, knowing you’re going to have to face the hostile environment,” LaDainian Tomlinson said. “We have guys who have been on the road and know how to play on the road. Until you experience year after year going on the road, playing in hostile environments, you truly don’t know what it means to take it a game at a time. For us, having that experience that’s the only way we can approach it.”
    When Turner became the Chargers head coach in 2007, some of his most significant, if virtually unnoticed, focuses involved how the Chargers approached road trips.
    “When Norv came in he made a point to tell us we needed to focus more on the road, take a more businesslike attitude,” defensive end Jacques Cesaire said. “Obviously, this team likes to joke, but when we leave for the road games it’s very businesslike. (Turner) talks about just because we’re flying somewhere, just because we’re staying somewhere different, the preparation never stops.”
    Numerous players spoke of having down time on the road, going to watch film in one of the banquet rooms the team commandeers in its hotel, and having several teammates already there doing the same thing.
    “You got guys taking things seriously, knowing we have something special here,” Cesaire said.
    “We approach it with a business mindset,” left tackle Marcus McNeill said.
    “We’re going to work. We are not going to have fun or go sightseeing but to be professional and handle business. I see young guys like Louis Vasquez studying and doing things in his room on his own. And when you have guys putting that kind of commitment in, it’s easy to win on the road.”
    One of the first changes Turner made was having the Chargers leave San Diego two days before the game for any game east of the Rockies. Where they used to go to Kansas City on Saturdays, they began going in on Fridays.
    A team that had won once in the previous decade at Arrowhead Stadium has not lost in three games there under Turner.
    “Some guys can handle a Saturday trip,” Philip Rivers said. “But when you get in at 5 (p.m. on Saturday), the game sneaks up on you. Some guys can’t handle that. They need to get there Friday, be in the town for a full day. You get in at 5 (Saturday), you grab a bite, wake up, got a game. There’s 53 guys. Some guys can handle that better than others.”
    Another thing Turner did was become stricter about curfew. Multiple team sources said a number of violations under former head coach Marty Schottenheimer were ignored.
    “There were a lot of things I felt I had to tighten up when I got here,” Turner said. “When I looked at thing in terms of discipline and things that had happened, I was surprised at a couple instances. When you have 60 guys you’re going to have some issues but you want to keep them to a minimum.”
    Two former Chargers, on the team before and during the Turner regime, said this week that a different attitude on the road was evident after Turner arrived.
    Both players asked to remain anonymous but talked of a team maturing and fewer guys going out as often on the road.
    “We used to be a real young team,” one of the players said. “… Guys going out, trying to beat curfew.”
    That no-nonsense approach comes from the top.
    “It starts with the head coach,” Rivers said. “It filters down — the schedule, the way we organize things, the mentality. It’s very steady. There are no surprises. The consistency of the way we travel. Everybody knows what’s going to happen and when. I can tell you the schedule without looking at the itinerary. We know what we’re doing, guys do it.
    “Even that it’s Christmas and it’s a little different, there will be no problems. Norv will have a good plan and have us focused.”
     
  2. Aggieman

    Aggieman I bleed blue and gold

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    7-1 would be impressive. I don't care who you are.
     

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