Interim head coach Smith keeping Chargers focused on final three games of the season
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Giff Smith has received plenty of advice since the Los Angeles Chargers hired him as the interim head coach last Friday.
The best though might have come from one of Smith's former bosses.
“Chan Gailey (who had Smith on his staffs at Georgia Tech and the Buffalo Bills) said all those suggestions and thoughts you had are now decisions. Good luck,” Smith said on Tuesday as the Chargers began preparations for Saturday night's game against the Buffalo Bills.
Smith takes over for the final three games from Brandon Staley, who was 24-25 in nearly three seasons at the helm. The Bolts are 5-9 with losses in five of their past six, including last Thursday night's 63-21 drubbing at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders.
The 55-year old Smith is a 32-year coaching veteran. He has been on NFL staffs for 12 years, including the past eight with the Chargers. Coincidentally, Smith's first NFL job was with the Bills.
Smith said there hasn't been much reflection on the Raiders game and that everyone is on to Buffalo.
“It was embarrassing to everybody involved in it. I take that with me, since I’m the man in charge now. We’re moving past that," he said. “We have three weeks to show the character of the men and the coaching staff that we are, to go out there and compete. That’s what we’re looking to do, compete, right there, and try to win these next three games.”
Smith is well regarded by players on both sides of the ball. Safety Derwin James described Smith as a straight forward and dependable coach.
Running back Austin Ekeler added that Smith has made it known to the captains to keep the morale and energy up despite what has been a disappointing season.
“He’s got some of that old school mentality where everything is a tight shift, making sure that everything is on time and he wants everything to be right,” Ekeler said.
Smith isn't the only coaching or on-field change going into the week. John Timu will coach the defensive line after Jay Rodgers was fired last Friday. Defensive quality control coach Robert Muschamp will take on a bigger role working with the outside linebackers because of Smith taking on head coach duties.
Coordinator Derrick Ansley will call the defensive plays, something that Staley had done. Smith said there might be some subtle changes to the scheme, but nothing significant.
Stick used the weekend to evaluate his play from the Raiders game, where he completed 23 of 32 for 257 yards with three touchdowns and an interception in his first NFL start. He also fumbled the ball twice.
“Emotionally, you just want to burn it, for sure, but there’s a benefit to going back and watching it,” Stick said. “As bad as it felt, there are positives that you can take from it and things you have to learn from, obviously, and improve. We put the ball on the ground, I did twice, and that can’t happen.”
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