NFL head coaches come in all sizes, shapes, and personality traits. Around the NFL and even with the Chargers.
And then came Brandon Staley, the Chargers head coach, who went (9-8) his first year on the job.
Refreshing, candid, expansive with his philosophies, always open to debate why he is doing what he is doing. The last one I saw like this was Pete Carroll, who took over the Seahawks job and built them into a Super Bowl team.
This is not the condescending Bill Belichick. It’s not the dynamic Bill Parcell, who enjoyed sparring with the media. It’s not the boring Don Shula nor Chuck Noll. Not the stone faced Bud Grant. Nor the business like Andy Reid.
The Chargers, in recent years, gave us the mumbling Anthony Lynn; the protective Mike McCoy; the generic Norv Turner; the stern Marty Schottenheimere; the fraud that was Kevin Gilbride;the fun loving Mike Riley; the blunt honest Bobby Ross; the insights of Dan Henning; the politics of Al Saunders; the paranoia of the greatness of Don Coryell.
None have been like this guy.
The Chargers could go (17-0) according to all the things that Staley spoke about the first day of his full roster OTA workouts on Monday.
For the average fans, they don’t get to her insightful answers that Staley provides nearly weekly. Truly a breath of fresh air.
Thought you’d like to see the full read out on all his quotes, if you want to buy in.
Ask a question, get an extended intellectual anshwer
HEAD COACH BRANDON STALEY
On the opening of Organized Team Activities:
“It was great to be back. This is why we compete: to be out there with your team. Today was Day 1, so we are officially at the beginning.”
On how what he ‘is trying to accomplish today’ is different than this time last year:
“I think it’s an excellent question. I think I have a much better sense of who our team is and what our organization’s about. I think you have a lot better understanding of everybody that helps make our team what it is, and I think that there’s a lot that goes into that. The one thing that always strikes me about the NFL is that you’re building something new every single year. You’re not building on what you did, you’re building something new every single year, and today was the beginning of that. But I know that the people who are here have a lot of confidence in how we do it.”
On building off of last year’s offseason program:
“You’re installing a lot of the same things that you did, but you’re able to do it faster because there are people who have actually been through it. I think the pace is better. The expectations are better. You do not have to explain everything for the first time to everybody every single day. You do not have to do that. I think that that’s a big advantage for us right now. Now, we’re able to focus on the little things in football that make a big difference.”
On ‘short-term goals’ for the offseason program:
“In the springtime, you don’t have shoulder pads on, you’re not playing full speed, contact, tackle, blocking, full-speed to the ground, so what you have to focus on is assignment, technique and effort. I can’t measure anyone’s toughness right now. I can’t measure someone’s physicality right now, or their discipline, because we’re not playing football. But what we can measure are those three things that I’m talking about. Hopefully, we’re able to do that and really focus on the little things that can really build a strong foundation for training camp. That’s what we want to do. If you see our work out there, we two-spot a lot of the things so that our young players are getting those chances to grow, to improve, to be ready to compete in training camp, because that’s when it’s real. What we’re trying to do over these next 11 practices is set the foundation for training camp.”
On seeing OLBs Khalil Mack and Kyle Van Noy ‘on the field in a Chargers uniform for the first time’:
“Confidence. Those are real NFL players that you talked about — those two, specifically, that you mentioned. I know what I see out there. Those two are the two of the best players that we could have joined up with this offseason. It was awfully good to see them out there.”
“He’s in really good shape. He has a lot of confidence in where he’s at right now. We just want to make sure that we phase them in the right way. He’s going to be in all of the walk-through stuff, jog-through stuff. But, we want to make sure that in individual [period], that he just comes back the right way. He could probably go full speed right now, as you guys probably saw. I mean, he looks good. But, we want to make sure that we phase him in properly.”
On ‘what needs to happen’ for the defense ‘to become’ what he ‘wants it to become’:
“We have to become a team defense, which is all three levels playing the game the right way from a technique standpoint, from an assignment standpoint, and then them understanding how it all fits together, and this group does. This group that we’ve joined up with, we’re off to a good start with them. I’m excited because it’s a deep group, it’s an experienced group. I think we have a good mix of veteran and youth, but they’re all guys that fit how we want to play. Now, there’s a lot of work to do between now and our first game, but today was a good start of it.”
On CB Michael Davis:
“Vato is going to be right in the mix there. It’s going to be very competitive in the secondary. I think what we’ve done is we’ve acquired a lot of depth in order to make it a competition. I think that that is what we were after, really, in all phases of our team, but I think specifically on defense, and in the kicking game, we really wanted to make sure that we get the best of the best out there so that we can find out who those guys are, going into next season, that are going to compete, start, play for us, earn a roll. Mike is going to be right in the middle of that competition for us.”
On LB Kenneth Murray’s ‘timeline for return’ following offseason surgery:
“I think that the timeline is for him to be full-speed for training camp. From now until the summertime, until training camp starts, in the rehabilitation process, I know that he is going to be weight-bearing here soon. Then, once that starts, then it’s, really, a sprint to get to training camp. But, we expect him to participate in training camp.”
On Van Noy’s position within the defensive scheme:
“Kyle, kind of his trademark is that he can do either — he can play on the edge, he can play behind of the ball. He’s a very versatile player, but what he does better than anything is that he is extremely instinctive and he’s a playmaker. He can make plays at both of those positions and he can run the show — he’s been the green dot in New England. We just feel like that versatility is really going to help us. That championship experience — he’s a Super Bowl champion, he’s been a part of top-five defenses, really, wherever he’s been. I’m really excited to join up with him.”
On developing G Zion Johnson ‘while expecting a lot of him’:
“We drafted him because of both of those things. We expect to develop him. We don’t expect Zion to be in Game 1 where he is today, but we think that this guy has a lot of special characteristics. He has a lot of toughness. He has a lot of versatility. He has a lot of ability. We think that he fits how we want to play inside. He fits the style of lineman that we want. He was off to a good start today out there. We just expect him to give it his best. We know that he’s good enough. He will be able to improve because we know what he’s going to put into his game. We really feel like he’s going to be a tremendous asset for our offense.”
On ‘building off of’ S Derwin James Jr.’s experience last season as the defensive signal-caller, compared to ‘allowing him to move around’:
“We want Derwin to be the signal-caller of our defense because we feel like he is the leader of our defense. We feel like the way he plays, where he plays — whether he’s playing safety, Star or Money — he’s in the middle of the defense. He never leaves the field. We think that that’s important. We think that can be an advantage. We were able to do that with [Browns S] John Johnson [III] with the Rams. We were able to do it with Derwin last year. Derwin was fantastic for us last season. What we’ve done is we’ve surrounded them with a lot more depth and talent, so that all of his talents will shine even brighter than they did last season because of who he has joined up with. Derwin, all he needs to do is continue to do what he always does because he’s one of the special players in the league.”
On building depth and ‘finding unique roles’ within the secondary:
“We got off to a good start with that last year, and then we faced a bunch of injuries. I think that if you look back at our season, we were headed that way, and then we kind of got cleaned out at corner and at safety with a bunch of injuries. Where now, if you look at the depth of our secondary, certainly through free agency and the draft, now we have the type of depth that, I think, allows you to truly play the way that you want to play. Then, we’ll figure it out this springtime and who emerges as starters and what their exact roles are going to be. There is going to be a lot that’s determined between now and training camp.”
On CB Bryce Callahan:
“He’s one of the top slot-cover players in the league, and he has been, really, since he started in Chicago. He really gives us a lift there in the slot because of his experience, especially in our system. But, he’s played outside, too. When we went to Denver, we really signed him to play outside because we had [former Chargers and Broncos CB] Chris [Harris Jr.] inside. The reason why I think Bryce is such a good player is because he can play effectively at both spots, but the experience and the play-making ability that he has within our defense — he’s been a part of some of the top defenses in the NFL throughout his entire career. He’s been a playmaker, a ball producer. We think that he has real toughness. I’m excited that he’s with us.”
On the potential of moving CB Asante Samuel Jr. to outside corner with Callahan playing primarily in the slot:
“It doesn’t force you to play Asante inside. We certainly want Asante to train in there because he has a lot of good skills to play in the slot, but we don’t have to do that. I think that what we were hoping for is to make sure that we get our best combination of secondary players out on the field. I think, through some of the acquisitions we were able to make in free agency and the draft, now we’re able to truly put that best combination of secondary players out there.”
On if there is ‘enough depth’ at the interior of the defensive line:
“Yeah, well, we’re certainly in a different spot than we were at the end of the season. When you start with [DL] Sebastian [Joseph-Day] and [DL] Austin [Johnson], those guys really fit how we want to play. They have a lot of experience playing the way we want to play, a lot of production. Then, we were able to join up with Foxy [DL Morgan Fox], we drafted Tito [DL Otito Ogbonnia], and then, there are a lot of guys coming back that are going to be one year better in our system, and they know exactly what is expected of them. We also added some pieces on the edge. I think that it all fits together. I’m really excited about that group and [Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach] Jay Rodgers coaching them. I think it’s going to be a group that is much improved.”
On the ‘level of competition’ along the interior of the defensive front:
“I think, certainly, Austin [Johnson] and Sebastian [Joseph-Day] have established themselves, and we’re really expecting a lot from them. That’s why we went and signed them in free agency. I think that you guys can expect those guys in there, for sure. But, then, how that that front is built, there’s a lot of time between now and our first game. I think by bringing in more depth, now you can really establish each guy’s role within the system because we play a lot of packages — you can really establish their roles and really get them doing what they do best.”
On his personal development over the last year:
“I’m just in a lot better rhythm. Last year, you’re having to explain everything to everybody for the first time all of the time. That’s happening every single day. Now, that’s not the case. Things aren’t happening to me for the first time anymore. I think that I’m just in a lot better rhythm. I think that I’m able to communicate even more clearly. Communication is your number one role as a leader, and being able to express that to everybody in the organization, not just the players and coaches, it’s everybody in the organization. Just how we orchestrated practice today, it was so much smoother than it was a year ago. I think that that’s a winning edge. There are a lot of parts in my game that I needed to improve on from last year, and it would be a long press conference to go through all of it, but I think that that’s where you have to start when you’re talking about improving your football team — you need to start with yourself, and it started from that the end of that last game to now and it’s always ongoing until the first game. That’s part of being a competitor, there’s always more. I’m certainly going through that right now.”
On DL Jerry Tillery’s ‘fit’ along the defensive front:
“He’s going to fit into that competition of guys that are going to have to earn a role. During this springtime and during training camp, all of those guys are going to really have to duke it out to establish themselves. Sebastian [Joseph-Day] and Austin [Johnson] are proven NFL players. Khalil Mack is a proven NFL player. Derwin James [Jr.] is a proven NFL player. Then, there are a bunch of guys that are trying to prove themselves, to earn their way in the league. I would put him in that category.”
On if there are ‘any worries’ about CB J.C. Jackson not being present today:
“No. J.C. has been here through the whole offseason. He just had a little plane deal coming out of Boston, but J.C.’s been here the entire offseason. We’re excited to get him out there.”
On if Jackson will be ‘on the field this week’:
On if OL Zack Bailey is ‘more of an inside or outside’ player:
“He’s played both. We felt like joining up with a guy that had NFL experience, that had been in an NFL building over the offseason, that would be an advantage. He’s going to add to our O-line depth. He’s played in games. We’re excited to add him to our group. Met him last week. He’s out there on the practice field. He’s going to be able to, I think, really compete and give us a guy throughout the offseason and into training camp that can really add to the depth of the O-line.”
On areas of improvement for QB Justin Herbert:
“Yeah. He talked about his drops. I think his balance and body control. It’s something that he does very well. I think, especially for a young player, under the center and shotgun. When he has his feet in good position — he’s already one of the special passers in the league, but I think there’s a confidence that comes when my body is in the right spot. Like, the way that I can really throw the football. He has such a high standard for how he throws the football. To me and you, it could look like a special throw. For him, maybe it doesn’t feel so special because he knows what he has inside of him. He’s been really working hard with [Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterback’s Coach] Shane [Day] on his fundamentals and really solidifying that. I think that’s what has been great about the offseason, to really work on that. Situationally, to answer that question, I think as a young player, especially at that position, there’s so much that you experience for the first time. Every time you go out there, there’s going to be something that you learn. Now, he has two full years of experience. One full year of experience in our system where I think he can translate that situational awareness even faster to where he can really be in the lead and run the show. I know that’s what he’s after, to really command that position to the fullest. It’s always ongoing. Even the guys who have played such a long time. There’s so much to experience. I think that Justin is so sharp. He’s going to get there because of how hard he works.”
On DL Morgan Fox:
“Morgan is tough. He is physical and he is disciplined. He has versatility to play a bunch of different places in the front. Morgan is really, really tough. The guy, wherever he’s been, whether it’s high school, college or the NFL, has rushed the passer at a high level. When it was 2020 and we were with the Rams and it was known pass, Morgan Fox was a starter for us with [Rams DL] Aaron [Donald] in there. It’s exciting to join up with him. He’s in that group competing for a role. I was really excited to get Morgan on this team.”
On measuring a player’s acumen in OTAs:
“I think that’s an important point. We want to make sure that these guys are accountable for their assignment. Accountable for their technique, in terms of how it’s being taught. Then, the effort that they give. That’s what we can measure right now. As these installs grow, we will be able to measure their acumen. I think the one thing that you want to be able to do is you want to be able to measure everybody on the team. The only way to do that is to give them an opportunity. That’s why we two-spot the field so that all of our young guys are gaining that same inventory so they’re not behind. I think that we got that off the ground today. I’m excited to see these guys continue to grow within the way that we do things.”
On ‘the plan’ for right tackle:
“As I told you guys after the draft, I think that we’ve got two guys from last season that played quality football for us in [T] Storm [Norton] and [T] Trey [Pipkins III]. I think both of those guys played quality football for us. I think those guys are going to compete. Then, we have several guys who have played right tackle — [G] Matt Feiler being one of them. We have some of these young guys who played tackle in college. Again, there’s a lot of time between now and our first game, but I think those guys are going to duke it out. Like I said, we’re excited to see those guys continue to improve. I think what isn’t lost on us as coaches or in our organization is that we were a very good offensive football team last year. Trey and Storm both played a lot of winning football for us. We expect those guys to continue to improve. We feel like we’ve added some good depth to kind of complete the overall offensive line. We’re excited to see that take shape.”