The Los Angeles Chargers will open the season Monday night against the Broncos in Denver. Hear from quarterback Philip Rivers on preparing for this game and how he'll spend the long wait before taking the field for Monday Night Football.
Anthony Lynn is making sure his players know what time it is.
And where they need to be and the best way to get there.
"We're all going to get on the same app so we can (monitor) traffic patterns," Lynn said. "We can say, 'It's rough over here. Don't take this freeway, don't take that freeway.' … There's no excuses for being late."
See, this is the Chargers' first season in the Los Angeles area, and their new head coach is aware there might be complications as his players navigate the Southland en route to their Costa Mesa headquarters.
Lynn spent his first five months on this job living in the Marriott Del Mar and commuting to Chargers Park in Murphy Canyon. He's aware what San Diego considers "traffic." He knows it will be challenging going from the relatively laid back San Diego commute to sudden-parking-lot-at-the-strangest-hours sort of congestion on unfamiliar highways.
"I heard the traffic in Atlanta is bad, and they did it this way," Lynn said. "I thought it was a good idea."
Wow. Evidently, this isn't a state secret that could threaten the very foundation of the franchise.
This nugget might seem inconsequential. Traffic in Los Angeles and Orange County. Duh.
But whether any or every coach who took over the Chargers in this transitional season would have enacted the same procedures is not the point being made here.
It's that Lynn acknowledged it — and even shared it.
This is the type of thing his predecessor, Mike McCoy, would have asserted publicly was not any sort of concern. Traffic? What traffic? The L.A. traffic is not bad. That's just a media creation. We'll do what's best for the organization. And we'll keep that in-house.
One interview is enough to understand how different the Chargers new head coach is from the old one.
How a coach addresses the media has almost nothing to do with whether his team wins or loses — except when it does.
When a coach is dismissive and combative and stubborn, seemingly unable to engage to the extent McCoy was almost right to the end of his four years in San Diego, it is about more than a disdain of the media. It is a presentation issue, as well as a communication issue.
It is an issue that bleeds over to the important constituency — the players.
Lynn has no such issue.
His economy of words takes nothing from his ability to connect. It is actually impressive how little he says while saying so much, essentially the opposite of McCoy (and many other football coaches).
And, to a large extent, his players see the same guy as the one giving earnest sound bites for public consumption.
Lynn has just a few remarks for his team after practice.
He gets to the point. Good work, not so good, remember the next meeting time. That sort of thing.
"A lot shorter," right tackle Joe Barksdale said. "A lot shorter."
Barksdale was comparing the post-practice huddles in the first training camp under Lynn to the marathon sessions during McCoy's four seasons as Chargers head coach. McCoy would talk, sometimes for longer than 10 minutes, even after a Thursday practice in October.
"He has his cue cards," Barksdale said of Lynn. "He knows what he's going to say. He's not saying more than he has to."
Each coach has his own way of doing things. Being long-winded, sometimes rambling and carping on the same issues over and over with largely 20-something players might not have been the chief reason McCoy's tenure was unsuccessful. But it was the cause of eye rolls then, and it spoke to the larger issue of McCoy's ability (or willingness) to relate to others in his capacity as head coach.
This isn't to bash McCoy. That time has passed. McCoy acknowledged on his way out that he would alter the way he does some things if given another head coaching opportunity.
And every new coach is afforded a period of glowing reviews. Players have to buy in to the new boss' direction, believe a new regime is the one that will make it all come together for a Super Bowl run.
But the way Lynn communicates is clearly appreciated.
"He demands respect," safety Jahleel Addae said. "He's a players' coach. He has a relationship with you. When he talks to you outside the field, he's real. … He's played the game at a high level. It's his aura, how he goes about the business, how he carries himself."
It is an unassuming confidence that Lynn wears, befitting a resume that includes six NFL seasons spent as a backup running back and standout special teamer. He has two Super Bowl rings earned with the Denver Broncos.
He immediately started coaching following his retirement in 1999, working for the Broncos, Cowboys, Jaguars, Browns, Jets and was through the start of last season a running backs coach for the Buffalo Bills.
Then came a hurricane series of promotions.
When the Bills fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman two games into the season, Lynn was promoted to his first coordinator position. When Rex Ryan was fired before the season finale, Lynn was named interim head coach.
It was widely expected he would get the job long-term in Buffalo, but the Bills hired Sean McDermott. Lynn also interviewed for the 49ers and Rams vacancies.
"I would have taken the job in San Francisco if they'd have offered," Lynn said. "At the same time, I wanted the job here. I was the last person to interview here and got the job. It's meant to be. … It's everything you want, but I didn't expect it in one season. It was a little bit of a roller coaster. I learned a lot. It was fun. It was a big learning experience."
One he acknowledges is ongoing.
With Ken Whisenhunt on offense and Gus Bradley on defense, the Chargers are one of two teams whose offensive and defensive coordinators are both former NFL head coaches. The other team is the Dallas Cowboys, whose head coach, Jason Garrett, has been in the job for seven years.
Lynn isn't afraid to concede that he knows what he doesn't know.
"It's my first time through, and I know both guys," Lynn said. "I wanted guys with that experience who have been there and done it, so if something crosses my plate I am not sure about, I can go down the hall and talk about it.
"Sure, I've prepared. I'm ready to do this. But I haven't done it yet. Having some guys on the staff who have done it, had some successes and failures, I can learn from that."
In other words, the opposite of the stock answer from the past four years that it's just how the head coach has always done it, the only way he knows.
There is new way of leading for the Chargers as they get acclimated in their new home.