Defensive coordinator wade phillips

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On playing Chargers QB Philip Rivers and his competitiveness

“I said the last time and I told our defensive team this: one thing you can count on is that Philip Rivers is going to play as hard as he can play and be a great competitor. He’s the kind of guy that he’s a great quarterback that can win games. We’re going to have a real challenge again against him and their team, but especially him. I’ve been around him. Some people say some guys might now play the last game or be really into it or really compete. No way. This guy is going to compete like crazy. It’s another big challenge for us. We’ve played, obviously, a lot of the great quarterbacks in the league already this year. He’s certainly one of them.”

On the impact of ILBs Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan

“Both of them have over 100 tackles. That’s what we expect from the inside backers in our 3-4 defense. Over the years, those guys have—I think [Former Dallas ILB] Bradie James had 150 tackles. We expect them to be in position to make plays. They have to make the plays and both of those guys have made plays for us. Brandon has been our signal caller—our main [signal caller]—although Danny alternates with him, but mainly in our sub-defense, too. If we don’t have Brandon, it takes a little bit out of us. We have some other guys to come in and play, though. That’s what we’ve had to do all year.”

On how Head Coach Gary Kubiak has set the team up for the long haul of the season

“Part of the reason that I’m here is because I believe in Gary. I’ve had the opportunity and had opportunities to go with other coaches, but Gary is an outstanding coach. I really believe in—he’s a great motivator besides being a terrific football mind, especially offense, even of the whole team. I’ve been lucky to be with a lot of—and some of it was my choice, not all of them. I got to be with my dad, but I also got to be with Buddy Ryan. I got to be with Marty Schottenheimer. I got to be with Marv Levy, the Hall of Famer Marv Levy. [Ring of Fame Coach] Dan Reeves. These are top-notch, outstanding coaches. I include Gary in that group.”

On whether ILBs Todd Davis and Corey Nelson would step into Marshall’s place

“Yeah, Todd Davis would be our first guy to go in, or will be our first guy to go in if Brandon isn’t available.”

On if he sees OLB DeMarcus Ware as close to 100 percent

“Yeah, I thought today he probably had his best practice. He looked like the DeMarcus Ware. The guy that was dominating early in the year. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t have a really good game this game.”

On the potential to finish No. 1 in passing defense, rushing defense and total defense

“Yeah, I think so. When we went into the year, we set all of our goals to be in the top-five, but our goal when I talked to them first was that we wanted to be the best. We wanted to be the best in the league. Those guys have followed through with it. They could set some all-time records, really, to be No. 1 in total defense, run defense, pass defense, sacks and on and on—yards per play, yards per pass, yards per rush. It could be an amazing season for us. It is anyway, but if we finish it up strong like we can, we could have accomplished a lot of statistical goals that no other team here or a lot of places have ever finished. It’s a pretty neat deal.”

On what it says about the defense that the team has come back from 14-point deficits three times this season

“Yeah, it’s a team. It’s not just the defense. It’s a team, obviously. Now I told our defense, and I really believe this, when the pressure gets on them, they really play their best. Unfortunately, sometimes this pressure [is] you get behind by 14 points, but those games we’ve really played well. Even you go through all the games, I mean the pressure was on the first game and we come through with an interception at the end of the game, and on and on and on. You can name almost every game—the Oakland game where we intercept 75 yards for a touchdown to win the game. The Browns game—we’ve got to stop them and we knock them backwards and make them punt. When the real pressure is on—and I try to get them to play like that all the time and say, ‘Hey, the pressure’s on you from the first play.’ They have great resolve. They really do. We’ve seen it happen time after time after time. The New England game, [Patriots QB] Tom Brady and them were celebrating when they won the toss. This is one of these games where, ‘we won the toss, we’re going to go down and score.’ We sack them and knock them backwards. They’ve played that way all year. I’m proud of that group.”

On why he thinks the team has been able to make a seamless transition between quarterbacks

“We’ve got a better head coach than they had when I was a head coach. I think one guy being hurt certainly is a factor. People talk about controversy and sometimes they want to make something out of nothing, but when I was at Buffalo, actually [Rob] Johnson and [Doug] Flutie were both playing, but one of them was hurt and the other one was playing and vice versa. Those kinds of things happen. Again, it comes from the head coach and his message to the team all the time. Like I said, obviously we had one guy hurt, so I mean the other guy has to come in and play, [just] like a defensive player or anybody else. It’s much larger, obviously, when it’s the quarterback. I say Gary is a great coach, now. I’m telling you. He’s done it with whatever quarterback, whatever running back, whatever team. He’s done it again.”

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