1-Man’s Opinion on Sports-Friday. “Chargers–Explain What They Did To Roster”

Posted by on April 9th, 2021  •  0 Comments  • 

 

-0-“Chargers–Offseason–What They Did”
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The Chargers off season continues.
New Coach Brandon Staley completed their free agent spending spree.
He rid the team of alot of players who were starers.
They cleared up some salary cap space.
They are a couple of weeks away from the draft.
He thinks it is a better roster, but there’s more to work to be done.

He spoke about the check boxes he has crossed off and what is next.

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Chargers Coach Brandon Staley:

Overview of free agency:

“I thought we executed our plan at a high level. I think we went into it with a clear vision of what we wanted to accomplish, and I think that who we were able to add really helped our team, helped elevate the depth of our team. We certainly added a lot of experience and a lot of production. I think that’s really what you’re after in free agency. I think free agency is about value. I think that we achieved that. Really excited about this group that we have — their production, their experience and then coming in and fitting the type of character we’re looking for in people, the type of competitors we’re looking for. I thought that we executed our plan extremely well.”

 

On S Nasir Adderley and his progression, having missed his rookie season due to injury:

“I think you hit on an important point. He missed really all of his first year, so last year was really the first time that he was playing in the NFL. Derrick Ansley, our secondary coach, worked with Nasir at the Senior Bowl coming out, and he had a really high opinion of him. I think that he’s our type of safety. He can see in the deep part of the field. He’s smooth. He has a lot of defensive back traits for us. He has some versatility. We feel like he has some slot flex, whether he’s playing ‘Star’ or ‘Money.’ Really think he’s a smooth athlete. We definitely can see in the deep part of the field, which we value. We think that he is going to be a good fit for how we want to play. I just think that secondary environment that we have, with [defensive coordinator] Renaldo Hill, a 10-year NFL safety, D.A. [Ansley], [assistant secondary] Tommy Donatell, we think that it’s going to be a great environment for him to grow.”

 

On the current depth at the safety position:

“I don’t think that you can have enough defensive backs. Just in the current NFL, what you have to defend and who you have to defense, I think having defensive backs on your team —  and a lot of depth at that position — is a great idea. Where it also impacts your team is in the kicking game. The more defensive backs you have on your roster that are quality players, the more impact they have on the kicking game. That’s certainly an area that we are looking to address. Looking forward to coaching those three that we have. But from a numbers standpoint, we’ll certainly address that here in the coming months.”

On the traits he looks for when evaluating a cornerback for his scheme:

“I think it’s always important going into the draft that you have a clear vision for the player. At corner, they come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. If it was a one-size-fits-all, then everybody would be doing it. But that’s not the case. For us, it’s more about the critical factors for the position. For us, it’s being able to play man-to-man — that’s where it starts. You have to be able to cover man-to-man. We kind of evaluate that in two phases; how they plan man-to-man from bump and how they play man-to-man from off, which is cushion for us. We evaluate that first and foremost. The second thing is; What is their movement like at level two? When they are off, what is their movement like? We really value that. You can’t just press in this league. You have to play off and be able to cover receivers from that position, too. How do they judge the ball in the deep part of the field? What is their production like when the ball is at level three? How do they play the ball? What are their ball skills like? What is their ball judgment like? How do they play in and out of phase? That’s really important. Then, what is their open-field tackling like? How are they going to be in run support? You can’t play defense if your corners can’t tackle. Those are kind of the critical factors for us. Certainly, then size, speed, arm length, all of that stuff comes into play. But, like I said, there are a lot of different shapes and sizes of corners. What we try to do is hone in on those critical factors for the position. Then, what that generates is a lot larger pool of defensive backs that you can work with.”

 

On OLB Kyler Fackrell:

“I have a lot of respect for Kyler’s game. I was in the division with him for two years. I felt like he always played well against us in Chicago. He had that really big year in 2018. I think that he has a lot of versatility. He is a really good pass-rusher. You always start there, with an edge player — and guys, that’s what we’re going to call him. We’re going to call them edge players, if that’s OK with you. They’re edge players for us. They’re edge players. Joey Bosa is an edge player for us. Uchenna Nwosu is an edge player for us. I hope that’s OK with you guys. To kind of clear up our lines of communication moving forward, they’re edge players for us. Kyler certainly fits that description. He has pass-rush ability. He certainly demonstrated it last year with New York [Giants] in his season there. But he’s outstanding in the run game at the point of attack. He has a lot of versatility that way. Plays a variety of techniques, which, I think, fits our style of play. He has had production while coming from winning places. He has played for really good teams. I have a lot of respect for the way that they played last year in New York. He just has an outstanding make-up, too. I think that we’re getting him at the right time. He feels like he has a lot left and a lot to prove. He is certainly going to add depth to that position. I’m excited to coach him.”

 

On what he sees in the offensive linemen that the Chargers acquired this year in free agency:

“Production. Experience. They come from championship-caliber programs — [C] Corey Linsley, specifically, and [G] Matt Feiler. They have size. We wanted to become a bigger team. When you sign who we feel like is the best center in football in Corey Linsley — a commander — and who’s a guy that has all of the leadership intangibles that that position acquires, then you have him and [QB] Justin Herbert running the show in the middle of your offense, we feel like that’s going to be a winning edge for us. You know who [Linsley] has been partnering up with in his career [Packers QB Aaron Rodgers], one of the special guys in the league. Now, Justin and Corey can team up to be one of those special tandems in the league. I think the big thing with Corey is that we feel like he is a difference-maker. There are a lot of centers that are good players, but who is a difference-maker? We feel like Corey is a difference-maker in more ways than one — certainly with his physical skills, but then all of the intangible stuff, too. Matt Feiler is a guy that I value. He has right tackle flexibility. Played on the right side, then goes in to left guard — that’s a huge stance transition for a player, and he did it seamlessly. We kind of feel like he provides us that guard/tackle flex. He’s going to start out at guard for us. Just really physical. H comes from a really good offensive line culture. Pittsburgh, with [Steelers G David] DeCastro, [former Steelers C Maurkice] Pouncey and [T Alejandro] Villanueva, that’s a really good group of guys. We felt like this guy knows what it takes. Certainly, when we’re trying to build our program, you’re trying to join up with people that know what it takes. We feel like we got him at the right point of his career, where he still has a lot to prove. Then, [G] Oday Aboushi. We felt like this guy played really well last year. [Run game coordinator/outside linebackers] Jay Rodgers was in the division with him in Chicago last year. As you guys know, Jay is our run game coordinator and edge coach — guys, edge coach. We felt like Oday is one of these guys that’s ascending. He’s 29 years old, and everyone’s like, ‘Well, this guy is taking the road less traveled.’ But, sometimes that’s the way it happens for pro players. It’s a developmental game. Sometimes it comes on for people at different stages. We feel like we’re getting him at the right time. He is an outstanding pass-protector, 6-foot-5. We feel like those three guys are good fits for us. We feel like, moving forward, that’ll be a room that will hopefully be a real strength of ours.”

 

On if members of his coaching staff attended college pro days this year:

“We haven’t sent any coaches out. It’s a different type of year. I think we get a lot more accomplished from our home base, from our central command center. You have more access to information, more access to film. You have the same access with Zoom and FaceTime, all of that good stuff. We’ve been able to conduct all of those same meetings from central command. I think that things are changing in that way. It’s been a fun process to go through with our coaches and our personnel department together.”

 

On if any comradery was built among the coaching staff due to the group not traveling to college pro days:

“I think that’s a really awesome point that you just made, and it’s one that I really believe in. I think that it has been an edge for us. From a coaching staff standpoint, there’s that synergy, but then the collaboration and the connection between personnel departments and coaching departments, and then also sports performance, from the medical side of things, being able to team up and have that easy communication, we feel like that’s an advantage — especially through this process. It’s been really good for us to get to know one another. I think that is an advantage of staying home.”

 

On the potential of Aboushi starting at one of the guard positions:

“We certainly feel like he is a starting-caliber player. But, he is going to have to compete. We feel like last year he played like a starter, like a winning starter in the NFL, and that’s why we signed him. I feel like he has the traits that we’re looking for in that position. I really like his demeanor. He has an awesome story. From New York, went to Virginia. He comes from an awesome family. He’s at that perfect spot in his career, in my opinion, where he has a lot of confidence at this point, and now hopefully that expresses itself even better with us.”

 

On what an ‘ideal tight end’ looks like:

“There are different sizes now, and I think that in that process, you have to sort of space that group into on the line ‘Y’ tight ends or ‘F’ tight ends that are more like guys that you move off of the line, guys that can play detached from the formation. That is a position that has truly become a hybrid position of sorts. It’s an advantage if you have a really good room. I think you categorize the tight ends that are ‘Y’ only, and then you have guys that are ‘F’ only and guys that you feel like can do either, that can be ‘Y’ and ‘F’ —  that’s kind of how we would classify that position. I think what you’re looking for at tight end is their ability to add value in the passing game. I think that’s where it starts with a tight end, their value in the passing game. What type of receiver is he? Is he a vertical threat? Is he a level one or level two threat? Is he a separator? How does he catch the ball in traffic? Can he split out from the formation? How does he play as a wideout? A lot of those things go into the evaluation. Then, at the point of attack, how is he at the line of scrimmage? How is he off of the line of scrimmage? How is his balance and body control working across the formation or in combination with people as a blocker? From there, you talk about his pass protection ability. That’s kind of the final part of the evaluation. It’s a position that if you have a deep room and a versatile room, it creates a big advantage for you schematically.”

 

On if he looks for multiple players to fill those roles at the tight end position:

“It’s very rare nowadays to find that complete player. One of those, ‘Man, he has it all.’ The way that the game is trending, a lot of these guys are playing detached from the formation and being more like receivers. From a blocking standpoint, what is being asked of these guys is different than it was 10, 15 years ago at the point of attack. With the advent of RPOs, those guys aren’t asked to do as much. You can kind of mitigate some of the risks with a player like that. You’re certainly looking for guys that can add value in the passing game. Then, in the run game, can they give you an advantage at the point of attack, whether it’s on the line or off of the ball moving across the formation?”

 

On potentially adding players on the edge of the defensive front through the draft:

“It’s ongoing. We sort of had a specific plan for that initial part of free agency. It’s always ongoing. We’re certainly going to try to make it through the draft, then see what happens from there. But, I’m looking forward to coaching the group that we have. I think Kyler [Fackrell] was a good addition in the first part of free agency. The draft is the next thing. Then, we’ll see what happens between now and training camp.”

On DL Jerry Tillery:

“I’m a really big fan of Jerry Tillery’s game. I think this guy is a versatile inside player. I think he is an inside player. This guy has real size and speed. This guy’s production last year jumped off of the page for me. I know that people want to magnify some of the sack production, but I think the tape — what the film said — told me a different story. I think that this guy is a matchup guy inside. He has real quickness. He has real pass rush ability. Like you said, he does have the ability to play on the edge. I think he was moonlighting on the edge. He can give you a physical body presence. If you’re playing a heavy run team and you want to put a physical presence out there, he has that versatility to do it. We certainly view him as an inside player. Certainly, where he is going to give us the biggest advantage is as an interior pass rush. We feel like this guy has a chance to be a complete player. This guy is a lot more tough, physical and rugged in the run game than I expected. I know that when I watched him, I was really excited to work with him because he does have the versatility and traits that we really value inside.”

 

On re-signing CB Michael Davis:

“Number one, it’s an awesome story. This guy has a great story and a great nickname — this ‘Vato’ thing? I’m loving that. I can’t wait to call him that all of the time. Just an amazing story. It was great when he got signed, just the emotion, getting the background on why all of the emotion, it was pretty amazing. This guy has real defensive back stuff out there. Size, length, real deep speed — this guy is a comfortable 4.3 [40-yard-dash speed]. He runs with any of these cheetah cats out wide. All of these guys that you know about and that you write about, he can run with him. We feel like he is at the beginning of his development. The fact that he’s a home-grown player, we want to take care of as many guys as we can. We know that it’s not possible all of the time, but just felt like the value was really good for where he is at in his career and where he is capable of going. We feel like he is at the beginning. He has real defensive back stuff out there to be a starting corner in this league. Hopefully, we can continue with his development.”

 

On if anything has ‘overwhelmed’ him yet since he has become a head coach:

“Maybe L.A. traffic on my way back north on the weekends. That may have overwhelmed me a bit because it has picked back up. That 405, 101 thing has been sort of a minefield to navigate at times, where it was pretty calm there for a while. Certainly, just having a schedule that allows you to compete where you need to within the day. Whether it’s with your defensive staff, your offensive staff, the kicking game, the personnel department, making sure, with your sports performance team, that you’re aligned with what is going to be happening here in Phase One and Phase Two moving forward, I think just having that organizational approach streamlined where you can be where you need to be in order to be the best version of yourself. Then, trusting the people you hired to do a really good job and giving them the autonomy to make sure that they are doing the job exactly like you would. I feel like that’s where I’m fortunate. We hired an amazing staff here. I think that has expressed itself more than anything and why it has made my job, you could say, busier, but definitely more fun, as well. I’ve enjoyed it. I won’t feel like a real coach, though, until the players show up. Everything has been great so far, but really looking forward to finally coaching the guys.”

 

On if there is an opening currently at left tackle:

“There is certainly a hole there right now. We feel like we have some tackle prospects on the roster that could certainly play there. But, it’s going to certainly be a position that we’re going to need to address before July. As you know, there are a lot of different ways to address it, within the draft, free agency, trade. There are a lot of different ways that you can do that. That’s definitely going to be a piece that we need to fill before July. We’re excited to do it. But, we like the way that we’ve started in free agency with the interior of our line.”

 

On if he feels that the offensive line needs to add younger players for developmental purposes:

“Definitely. Great point. Depth is so big, especially up front. You want to have guys that have some versatility, but guys that you’re grooming, guys that you’ve drafted, that have come up under your program. I’m excited to go through that process. With that position, it’s such a developmental position. Luckily, we have [run game coordinator/offensive line] Frank Smith and [assistant offensive line] Shaun Sarrett. They are fantastic coaches that I’m so excited for our linemen to partner up with. Going into the draft process, sometimes what you have to do is close your eyes and say, ‘OK, what is he going to be like in the Spring of 2022, not August of 2021?’ Sometimes, with offensive linemen particularly, that’s what you have to do. Certainly going into this evaluation process, we’re going to try and crush it that way.”

On T Trey Pipkins III:

“I think he has flashed. The good thing is that you’ve been able to evaluate him out there in the fire, so there’s real-life action. You’re not just watching practice film or preseason. I think that we’ve been able to address where this guy’s game is, where he excels, where, right now, he needs to improve, then here’s the vision moving forward. I know that he has played on the right side mainly here, but I feel like when you’re a tackle, we need you to really go both places. We’re going to try and figure out where he fits best. But he’s a developing player with a lot of good traits for the position. Now, he has to get with our coaches and be able to mold his game between now and July.”

 

On evaluating offensive linemen as draft prospects and if he views a player that only played one position along the offensive front in college as a ‘knock’:

“You always value versatility, if it’s real versatility and if it can truly help you. It’s one thing to be versatile, like having the skillset to do it, but also, do you have the mind to be versatile? You could have a versatile skill set, but maybe your mind won’t allow you to play all over the formation, whether it’s a lineman or defensive back or receiver. At tackle, there are certain characteristics of that position that are important. We all know who is playing on the edge on the other side of the ball. For us, you have to be able to pass protect. At that position, you have to play in more space. You’re in more space, these guys are long and they’re athletic. Where that tackle position starts for us is being able to pass protect.”

 

On the guidance he has received from the league regarding the offseason program:

“It’s kind of an ongoing communication process with the NFL. They sort of targeted the 19th of April, Monday, as maybe when Phase One can start. I know it’s going to start virtual, from a meeting standpoint. Then from an in-person workout standpoint, I think there is going to be some ability to work with our sports performance team. How exactly Phase Two and Phase Three express themselves, whether we can work in-person and then get on the field eventually in Phase Three to practice, finishing with the minicamp, I think that’s to be decided. I think we’re just staying patient and waiting for direction from the league. We kind of have contingencies planned either way. We’re just excited to hopefully get out and join up with these guys on the field.”

 

On the importance of Phase One for the rest of the coaching staff in getting to know the players in their position groups and units:

“Just the ability to have the virtual meetings is going to be awesome. I think what we all learned last year with no physical offseason is that this can be done. I just talked to a leadership group on our team — in one year’s time, how much better can we get at it? Let’s just say it’s that way again; how can you have an even better virtual offseason if that’s the way it has to be? That the fact that we get in front of our guys, I think that’s the most important thing. From the physical standpoint, hopefully, we’ll be able to work out there on the field at some point and hopefully get to practice a little bit. Either way, the fact that we get to know our players, to me, is the most important thing. They can know us, we can know them — know one another — then, we can really see the vision for how we want to play. Then, the specifics of how we want to play and be able to detail that up as the spring goes. That’s what we’re all looking forward to.”

 

On if they have had discussions yet about potentially working out with other clubs during training camp:

“I think we’re at the beginning of that. People are starting to kind of transition to that sort of thought process. It’s going to be interesting, certainly with the addition of the 17th game, and then subtracting one from the preseason, in terms of how you allocate your time. We’ll figure that out. I think that we’re at the beginning of it. I’m excited to be able to compete. I think that last year showed that you could get it done without preseason games. That’s the way it happens in college, believe it or not. They don’t have preseason games there and they’re able to play. Whatever that amount of games is, I think that we’ll be able to plan accordingly. To your point, just planning your preseason from sort of a load-management standpoint, from an analytics standpoint, what’s that going to look like, as opposed to when it was four [preseason games]? I think everyone’s used to four, so how are you going to transition that to three, knowing that you have a game on the back end? It’s still 20 games. As we know, in the preseason, a lot of these guys haven’t been playing for several years. We’re at the beginning of that, but looking forward to going through that process.”

On the backup quarterback competition between QBs Chase Daniel and Easton Stick:

“We’re really excited about Easton Stick. I’ve gotten to know this guy, a big fan of this guy. I actually got wind of this guy when I went to the Rams. These guys scrimmaged against one another and played against each other, so I was able to kind of get some feedback from those guys. I remember back then hearing about him and knowing what a winner he is. We really like this guy. We feel like it’s going to be a good competition between those two. We know what Chase brings to the table. I was with Chase in 2018. His relationship with Joe in New Orleans. Joe has been doing this for a long time, and there’s a reason for it. We certainly see those two competing for the number two spot behind Justin. I’m excited about that because I think that it’s going to make our team better. I think that it’s important for competition at every position, but certainly, when you have two guys like that that I think can push each other, push Justin and push our team. I think it’s going to be really good for the Chargers.”

 

On the tools he used last season with the Rams to build relationships with his players in a virtual setting:

“I’ll just use [Rams CB] Jalen [Ramsey] as an example. I made like a 90-play cut-up for this guy. This was like the beginning of the Zoom world. A 90-play cut-up, going all the way back to Florida State. About his game, what I really liked, what I felt like he could improve in, and then the role for us with the Rams, at that time. I wanted to do that with a guy like that because I wanted him to see that we were working, that we were really studying his game and really had a plan for him. I think that when you invest in people, you’re going to get a lot in return. That’s certainly what happened. I learned a lot about Jalen in that process. Going through that 90-play movie, I learned a lot about him, and I think that he learned a lot about me. Where we were able to lead that meeting, that sort of led to all of the stuff that you guys saw last year. If that had never taken place, then who knows how it would’ve gone. I think that it’s incumbent upon all of us coaches, to do things like that. That’s what I’ve talked to our coaching staff about and that’s what we’re doing right now with our players on an individual basis, creating those relationships where we can learn where they’ve been and where they’re trying to go. Then, them getting to learn us so that they can kind of get to know how we do things. Then, partner up so that we can hit the ground running full speed and really get somewhere quickly. What I learned from last year, having to do it virtually, is that it requires a lot of investment. When you Zoom and when you FaceTime, it requires a lot more of you than if you could just be in person all of the time. You have to be a lot more intentional about it. But, I think that’s a good thing. That was my big takeaway from last year. I was exhausted at the end of the spring, but I know that I gave it everything I had. I think that’s all that you can ask for. If that’s the way that it is this offseason, then I plan on being exhausted at the end of it again.”

 

On if he will follow a similar style of gaining knowledge now for the offensive side:

“As a defensive coach, you’re staying in your lane as a coordinator. But now, what’s awesome is that you really get to partner up with guys like Corey Linsley and [T] Bryan Bulaga. Maybe they can de-classify some information for me. We kind of talked about that. Then, you can talk to Justin Herbert, Easton Stick and Chase Daniel, and you can go over a lot more than just talking about where our favorite restaurant is. We can get into the ball and really help their game out, help them improve and give them something that’s really going to make their game better. Certainly, I’m looking to multiply those meetings. Hopefully, there will be enough time in the day.”

 

On Tillery being described as a ‘matchup’ player:

“He can move within anywhere in the front. We feel like whether you’re isolating him on the interior on a guard, or moving him outside on a tackle, he has the flexibility to be a problem at both places. For instance, I think that he has real quickness and length that bother guards. Guards aren’t, typically, as long of players as a tackle is. He has initial quickness, and he has really long arms, so he can win that race to tag. We talk about tagging, can you that race? I think he has that. Then, on the edge, what he has is that if a tackle is lighter, he has real physicality to run over you and be a physical presence on the edge, or wider within the front. We feel like he is scheme versatile in that way. It’s something that we really value as a matchup guy.”

 

On differentiating between the ‘Star’ and ‘Money’ positions:

“Star is our nickel term, and then Money is our dime term. We give them different terms because it is in a sub-category. You’ll hear us say Star or Money. We kind of change the terms because of the world that they’re living in. It’s a different world than the base world.”

On Bulaga’s performance in 2020:

“I think it was a different year for everybody. I think that from a training standpoint, from a preseason standpoint, just very unique for all of us. With Bryan, where he’s at in his career, like I talk to you guys about analytics and load and things like that — I was just with a guy in [Rams T] Andrew Whitworth, who you guys all know — he’s at a different space in his career than a 22 or 23-year-old young whippersnapper. They’ve played a lot more ball. I just think that we have to have a specific plan for him that gives him the best chance to be successful and really individualize our practice and our training plans for him, because we know that when he’s out there, he is a productive player and he gives us the best chance to win. I have so much respect for Bryan. I’m excited to partner up with him because I had to go up against him. He and Linsley have really good records against us. We’re hoping to partner up and sort of flip that script a little bit. For him, we’re a lot better team when he’s out there. In talking with him, I’ve learned a lot about him. Just really excited to get him back out on the field for us.”

 

On if left tackle would be the most challenging position to play for a rookie:

“I think being a rookie in the NFL, regardless of the position, is really, really hard. I think that [LB] Kenneth Murray [Jr.] would tell you that linebacker is hard to play. But you certainly bring up an awesome point. The one thing I would say about tackle is that [Bears OLB] Khalil Mack, [Broncos OLB] Von Miller, [Steelers OLB] T.J. Watt, they line up on the left side. You have to have tackles. Left and right, that doesn’t exist anymore. These guys move around. These defensive players move around. You have tackles and they have to be mirrored players. Seriously. You have to have tackles. Just like corners, you have to have corners. It used to be like, ‘Well, you put your left corner over here because most teams are right handed.’ That doesn’t exist anymore. You need to have corners. For us, it’s a tough position being an offensive lineman. It’s a challenging position to play because of who you have to block from an individual standpoint. Tackle and corner are so challenging because those are more mano-a-mano-type roles. You can help them and nudge them with protection plans and stuff like that, but from a mano-a-mano standpoint, it’s a tough deal. In studying tackles and the history of the game, sometimes it takes them some time to truly ascend to where they can go. I think that’s why no matter where they’re drafted, and if they have to start as rookies, you really have to project and really know that this player is going to get a lot better. How they start is not how they’re going to finish. It’s really incumbent upon us to coach them really well and have a good plan to help them be as good as they can be.”

 

On NFL Network Analyst and former NFL head coach Brian Billick likening a wide receiver group to a basketball team, in terms of physical attributes, and how that compares to what he looks for in a wide receiver group:

“You certainly want to have a diverse group. I think what he means by that is having a lot of different flavors of receivers. What you want in a receiver group is guys who can affect you in all three levels of the defense. Can they threaten you on level one, outside and inside? Can they affect you on level two, more in the intermediate area of the field? Then, who can get deep in level three? The offensive coaches in the league, and a defensive coach would tell you, that the hardest teams to defend are teams that have a complete receiver group. Coming into this opportunity, I would certainly look at our receiver room that way. You have [WR] Keenan [Allen] that can play outside and in the slot. He’s one of the premier wideouts in the game. You have [WR] Mike Williams, who is a tremendous level three player outside, but I think that inside, this guy can play even better. He’s such a tough cover from a matchup standpoint because of his size, speed, and body control. We’ve got these two young guys, T-Billy [WR Tyron Johnson] and [WR] Jalen Guyton, who can roll. They are legit 4.3 [40-yard-dash speed] guys, and when you have guys who are legit 4.3 and can get deep on you and take the top off the coverage, it just opens up a lot more in the passing game. Especially when you have a diverse tight ends and running backs room, now you have all sorts of weapons out of those five eligible players that people have to defend. If you don’t have to worry about defending the top shelf of the coverage, then you can just sit in level two waiting for stuff. It’s going to be hard for you to throw the football at a high level. The teams that throw the football at a high level are the people that can access all those parts of the field. When he talked about a basketball team — you know, there are a lot of different types of basketball teams, now. The Warriors are a lot different from the Chicago Bulls in the 90’s — the group that I fell in love with. [Former Bulls players] Ron Harper, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant — like three seven-footers, that was a big team. Well, the Warriors don’t play like that. They are smaller. They are playing small ball. What I think is you have to have a diverse basketball team. You have to have guys that are big, guys that are in the middle and guys that have that quickness — that short area stuff in level one that matters, too. I feel like we’re very fortunate here, but that’s always ongoing, to improve it as best we can. If you’re a basketball junkie, just like how the game has changed in basketball, the game has changed in football — talking about eras and all this and that. That’s why I’m so interested with guys like [Warriors Head Coach] Steve Kerr and [76ers Head Coach] Doc [Rivers], who have played in that space, and now they’re coaching in a different game. They’re in a totally different world. It’s so interesting in that way.”

 

On evaluating the running back position:

“First, the other thing about basketball, too, is that we know that shooting threes and layups and dunks are where the game has gone to; that’s where the game has completely changed —  just shooting it. You mentioned the transition of the throw game in football, where basketball has changed is the three-point shot. That’s why teams are being constructed differently in that way, but it’s still a big man’s game, guys. Just so you know, it’s still a big man’s game at the end of the day. What you talked about with the running back room, I really like our group. I think we have a young group. You start with [RB] Austin [Ekeler]. The production he’s been able to have in the NFL so far, a true dual-threat, running the ball and catching it. Then, [RB] Justin Jackson and [RB] Joshua Kelley. We like those guys as prospects. We feel like those guys can do all the jobs that are featured in our offense, and we feel like their best football is ahead of them. I did some work last year evaluating Josh Kelley, just studying a lot of defensive players in the draft, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Justin Jackson. We feel like we have a healthy running back room, knowing that you need a balanced and deep group to be good for an entire NFL season.”

 

On how the coaching staff and personnel department took college pro day performances into account when evaluating prospects this year:

“It’s part of the evaluation process. A big part of drafting players is trying to get all the information that you can acquire. The more information that you can acquire, it can help you make a better decision. You’re always going to trust what you see on film, but the film can lie to you. It can deceive you. There are a lot of variables to people’s success, or lack thereof. There are a lot of variables in the college film process that can be deceiving. You’re not comparing apples-to-apples like you are in the NFL. You have to take in all that information. Whether it’s a pro day or all of the game film — the Senior Bowl, their all-star game — you take it all into consideration, and then you paint a picture on a player. What you learn about pro days is that you don’t over-value or under-value; you just value them. It’s just a part of the process. I think that each case is specific. We certainly pay close attention to it.”

 

On using the ‘edge’ label for a player:

“It’s an easier way of look at it. We’re transforming that. It’s going to help these guys get paid more — franchise tag, right? I’m hoping to help players out there. Edge; it just makes it easier. Now, all these outside linebackers won’t be so mad when they’re getting [franchise] tagged. Just edge. That’ll just make it so much easier.”

 

On how his knowledge of edge players helps him evaluate offensive tackles:

“You get a really strong sense on the other side of who athletically can do the job and who has the range to get back there and kick to these rushers. Having coached [OLBs] Von Miller, Khalil Mack, Bradley Chubb, Leonard Floyd —  some of whom are the top players at the position — and now I’m getting to work with Joey Bosa, you know who they have to block. When you go into the evaluation process, it gives you a very clear picture of what type of person will be required to do that — also, knowing that you have to be able to project. There will be some guys that maybe can’t block those players in year one, but in year two or year three, they can because they get bigger, stronger, faster, more knowledgeable of the game, whatever the case may be. Where it really starts is you have to understand the job description of a tackle. I talked about critical factors at corner. What are the critical factors for an offensive lineman? One of the critical factors is one-on-one pass protection. That’s certainly where the evaluation process starts for us.”

On the value of potentially being able to get on-field offseason work with Herbert:

“What really helps from a physical standpoint, just fundamentally, you really grow as a player when you get an offseason. You can really work full-speed in the rhythm and timing of a play. Developing that muscle memory and developing those fundamentals that are so important to your success, I think that’s an awesome place to start. Before you even take the scheme out of it, just from a fundamental standpoint, getting that confidence in your game and working with receivers that are your receivers, receivers that you are going to be throwing to — it’s one thing to have workouts with a bunch of guys, but is it with your wideouts being able to run your offense and developing that special stuff? That’s what makes the game special, those relationships, and knowing that we’re teaming up to do something. That’s where an offseason would benefit any quarterback, but certainly Justin — from a new offensive standpoint, just getting into that comfort zone of our language. We talked about translating a lot of what Justin knows to our language and him getting that comfort zone of how we call formations, protections, run game, pass game, alerts, kills, different tempos, different cadences. A lot goes into playing offensive football. He’s certainly a guy you can put a lot on, but what he proved, more than anything, is that he’s just a really natural football player. What we’re hoping to do is get him into that rhythm and comfort zone so that all those natural skills can come to life.”

 

On if offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s scheme, if similar to the offensive scheme of the Saints, is one that Herbert will be able to utilize, in terms of multiple personnel groupings:

“You want to be able to put a lot of pressure on the defense. What I think is paramount, on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game, is that you use personnel groupings as a weapon. You want to put people in conflict every single snap. Part of the way you do that is with a variety of groupings that they have to prepare for, where they can’t just say, ‘Hey, this is all 11 [one running back, one tight end personnel].’ I’ve got a lot of defenses to defend 11 personnel, guys. It’s a lengthy, length call sheet. But, when you have to defend 11, 12, 21, 22, 10 — now there are two tailbacks in the game, now there are three tight ends in the game, which receivers are in the game — it puts a lot of pressure on you defensively. We certainly want to be a matchup-driven team because week-to-week, that opponent that you’re playing is going to be really different. We want to be really specific and use our matchups each week to our advantage. The only way you can do that is if you can play a lot of different groupings. That’s certainly why we do it the way we do it on defense, as you guys all know where I came from and how we did it there. I wanted to have an offensive philosophy that mirrored it.”

 

On CB Ryan Smith:

“Ryan Smith is a guy we studied. R-Hill [defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill], D.A. [Ansley], and Tommy Donatell did a great job scouting him, with our pro scouting department. This guy has been a starter in the NFL at corner, and he has some safety flex and is an outstanding special teams player — one of the better special teams players out there. [Special teams coordinator] Derius Swinton [II] and [assistant special teams] Mayur Chaudhari, those guys really had some feeling for this guy. It’s funny, I actually coached one of Ryan’s high school teammates at James Madison. The relationships come full circle. We feel this guy has movement and some defensive back versatility and then adds a lot of value in the kicking game. Coming from a place that just won a championship, he certainly has that pedigree. We’re looking forward to working with him. Hopefully, he can come in here and compete.”

 

On if he is ‘satisfied’ following the initial wave of free agency:

“Yes. We executed our plan at a high level. We went into it with a clear vision. To me, and I know that [General Manager] Tom [Telesco] has talked to you guys, free agency is about value more than anything. What happens in free agency is that you may have a need, but then if the value exceeds the need, then you need to pump the brakes. We felt we were able to get the right value, address some of those depth issues that are real, and then spring bar ourselves into becoming a balanced team, which is the goal; can you create the most balanced team going into the season that can stand the test of a full season?”

On if there is a similarity in the components of what the Star position is responsible for in his scheme compared to Florida State’s system when Ramsey and S Derwin James Jr. played in that similar system:

“It’s a similar concept. Those guys that they joined up with, [former Florida State defensive coordinator] Jeremy Pruitt, who comes from that [Alabama Head Coach] Nick Saban family — that [Patriots Head Coach Bill] Belichick and Saban sort of way with [Georgia Head Coach] Kirby Smart, [former South Carolina and Florida Head Coach Will] Muschamp, those guys that coach that similar system. Those are terms that really apply to sub[-personnel] defense to like a sub-role. It’s a different context because Jalen is a corner and D.J. is a safety, but it’s thought process. Like you guys say last year with J.J. [former Rams S John Johnson], whether you’re a safety, Star, or Money, Derwin James, bottom line, is a defensive back. That’s what we want. We want as many defensive backs on our team as possible that can do a lot of different jobs. Derwin James is a premium example of that versatility. We’re certainly hoping to take advantage of it.”

 

On if James will have the capability to move around within the scheme:

“You want to just get him where the action is. Derwin James has a lot of gifts closer to the ball that a lot of defensive backs don’t have. For instance, they may be deep part of the field players. He has a lot of gifts closer to the line of scrimmage. The thing that’s unique about Derwin is that he’s equally as gifted in the deep part of the field. Jalen Ramsey is really good outside, and he’s equally as gifted inside. That’s a rare combination. We feel like Derwin is a rare combination. He has a rare make-up, too, which we’re looking forward to working with because he’s got an unbelievable vibrance and leadership qualities. I can’t wait to get in the meeting room with him.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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