Brandon Staley-the Chargers new head coach
He talks a good game.
We will have to wait to see if he can coach a good game.
More importantly if he can win games.
It was Bolt Ball 101…a non-stop press conference of sales pitches, adulation and superlatives…from the Chargers newly annointed head coach.
He talked philosophy, football, motivation, football, systems, football.
The more nouns and verbs he used, the more absurd it seemed to be, on this just the first day of full team OTA’s.
And all this within hours of Sports Illustrated posting a critical story, quoting other GMs and coaches, that Staley made a terrible mistake firing the offensive staff that helped rookie QB-Justin Herbert rocket to a rookie season full of passing records.
Fans always like to be on the inside.
Take a read on all things Bolt Ball 101 about the first year head coach and what he had to say.
Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley:
On today’s practice:
“I felt like we had a clean operation. We added a lot more players today, so just making sure that everybody knew exactly where they were going and what they were supposed to do when they got there. I liked that today. I felt like our coaches were clean, from an operations standpoint and from a tradition standpoint. I think it’s really important that when you’re trying to create a teaching and a learning environment, that you create as many as those teaching and learning opportunities as possible. I felt like we got a lot of good work in. On special teams, we had two seven-and-a-half-minute periods, then two 20-minute offense and walk-through type of situations. We got through our script. We were really adamant about playing a game today and that’s what we did. We were able to get 65 plays in of offense and defense, and then a bunch more in the kicking game. That’s what we’re trying to do; create a teaching and learning environment. I think that we were able to establish our way of doing things from a walk-through standpoint. Hopefully, that expressed itself today.”
On devising today’s play script:
“What we really wanted to do was try and create our standard for the offseason moving forward. A big thing, from a sports science and sports performance standpoint, is that all of our individual periods, and all of the weight room stuff with our sports performance staff, that’s going to be full-speed. But, we are not going to have any competitive one-on-ones in this camp. We’re not going to have competitive 11-on-11. It’s all going to be a walk-through. As you saw, we have jerseys out there, but it’s hats and sneakers. What we’re trying to do is create a game-like environment from a mental standpoint, so that our guys can learn what to do, how to do it and why it is important. We can have great tempo before the snap, but then after the snap, there isn’t that pace that exists when you put shoulder pads and helmets on. That was a big goal of ours. We worked, as a coaching staff, extensively with our leadership council. We really feel that this is the model, moving forward, that is going to fit the Chargers best and create an environment where our guys can really improve both from a sports performance standpoint and as a football player. We were excited to get that kicked off today. I felt like the flow of practice went really well.”
On QB Justin Herbert:
“Justin is a big part of the operation, in terms of his command in and out of the huddle. I feel like that’s going to be a hallmark of how we play; a lot of groupings, our pace in and out of the huddle, applying pressure on the defense every snap. Certainly, he’s at the front of that from a communications standpoint, making sure that he communicates the grouping, our snap count, the play-call, any alert or kill. I thought that he was really impressive. There was one, in particular, that I felt like definitely demonstrates that he has the capacity that you guys are all aware of, from an identification standpoint, something that we do defensively is tough to pick up, and he picked it up in practice one. He’s off and running. I was impressed with [QB] Chase [Daniel] and [QB] Easton [Stick], as well. We were able to get all of our plays today. That’s what we were looking for.”
On what he looks forward to in the OTA sessions:
“The opportunity to really communicate in person with your guys and be able to compete with them in a meeting room standpoint. Especially on defense, we meet a lot, as a back seven group, as if we were playing the game together. We’re able to see things the same way and create that cohesiveness, that chemistry, that really wins the day on game day. When you’re in person, you can do that a lot better than when we’re on Zoom. On Zoom, we try to replicate it as best as we can, but you really get a feel for someone’s personality and their style when you’re in person. Today, being able to kick that off, it felt a lot more like the environment that I’m used to. I felt like our guys really excelled as the day went.”
On players participating in this phase of the offseason program:
“We’ve had 100 percent attendance on all of our virtual Zooms since the beginning of it. Today was no different; 100 percent attendance. From a physical standpoint, we’re just really appreciative of our guys. Every player has a different situation, and that’s something that was really big for us going into this process. The players will tell you the same thing. Everybody has a different personal situation, especially with how this COVID-19 year really expressed itself in the offseason. There were a lot of guys out there today. I don’t know the exact percentage, but there were a ton of guys, as you guys saw. We’re really excited about our turnout.”
On Rams OLB Leonard Floyd praising Staley’s energy:
“Leonard is one of my favorites. I certainly would not be here today without Leonard and a lot of those guys. But, Leonard in particular because we were together in Chicago, so I appreciate him saying that. I’m the same guy that was the outside rusher coach in Chicago, when I first came into the NFL, as I am the head coach of the Chargers. All I’ve ever dreamt of doing is doing exactly what I’m doing. When I wake up, there’s a lot of purpose to do what I’m doing. I hope that expresses itself to the players. I’m trying to be as good as I can be for them. I hope to really set an example every day, and hopefully, that’s an example that people want to join up with. What’s been great is getting to know these guys with the Chargers and establish our way of doing things. On the field today, you were able to see some of that. You were able to see that energy and those relationships that we’ve started to build. We’re still a long ways away from being where we need to be, but I feel like today was a strong step in the right direction.”
On his evaluation of the defense:
“From a first installation standpoint, I think that those guys have command over the staples, those signature defenses that we hope to be able to run at a high level. I think that those guys have command. From a communications standpoint, I feel like those guys sounded like a pro defense. Starting up front, [Defensive Line Coach] Giff Smith and [Run Game Coordinator/Outside Linebackers Coach] Jay Rodgers have done an outstanding job. [Linebackers Coach] Mike Wilhoite and [Alex G. Spanos Coaching Fellow] John Timu with our second level guys, and then R-Hill [Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill], D.A. [Secondary Coach Derrick Ansley] and [Assistant Secondary Coach] Tommy Donatell, with [Defensive Quality Control] Isaac [Shewmaker], on the back end. I feel like our guys operated today like a pro defense, and against an offense that’s difficult to play against, with a lot of groupings and a lot of formations. Our guys were in the right spots, and I felt like that was a good step for us on defense today, just being able to play team defense. That’s something that we want to be able to do, to play team defense. I felt like today was a good start.”
On the plan with S Derwin James Jr. and how he performed today:
“He is clear for full participation, which is a real credit to our sports performance team, his performance team and himself. He looks great. He sounds great, as you know. One of his strengths as a football player is his leadership, and that energy that he gives everybody each and every day. You can see that he is a multiplayer out there. I mean, from the minute that I got hired — guys, I met this guy at my press conference and I felt better about our chances. When he’s out there, our chances increase by a whole bunch. He’s ready to play. What we’ve tried to do is create a really sound approach to his comeback. Today was a big step for him. He was cleared for full participation. He has had a tremendous offseason. He looks great. Looking forward to a lot more from him.”
On the COVID-19 vaccine and his discussions with players about the vaccination:
“The NFL has sent out a lot of good information on the vaccine. We’ve tried to have a lot of vaccine education here at our place, and at the same time, being respectful for everybody’s position. I think that this topic hits people differently. What we try to do is be respectful of everyone’s position and try to educate people the best way that we know how. That’s all that you can do. I think that the NFL is doing a good job of that. I know that our team is doing a good job of that. That’s where we’re at with that issue.”
On former NFL assistant coach Eugene Chung’s comments and where the league can improve in hiring minority candidates:
“I read about that over the weekend. There is still work to be done on that issue. I’ve told you guys where my position is, and our staff is reflective of that. All you can do is create the opportunities for men and women. You have to create opportunities for them to get the chance to compete. The tough thing about the NFL sometimes is that there are very few opportunities just to begin with, but I think what you have to be able to do is have a really thorough process that you go through in order to vet people properly. As you have seen recently, there have been a lot of steps to do that. I know that from my hiring processes, specifically, that we were very intentional about putting the staff together. We’re really hopeful that we’re a model that people can replicate moving forward.”
On if the players that aren’t attending Phase Three in person are able to participate in meetings:
“Yes. [Director of Video Operations] Brian Duddy and our video staff have done a tremendous job. Anybody that wasn’t here in the present was able to be in the meeting as if they were there. That was something that was really important to us. That’s why we feel really strongly about our way of doing things because it is inclusive to everybody. Everybody is improving. Like I said, we have had 100 percent attendance the whole way, and I think that speaks to the makeup of our guys.”
On LB Drue Tranquill and returning from injury, alongside James:
“Both of those guys have played winning football at this level. They’re both outstanding communicators. From the middle of your defense, the inside linebackers, safeties and all of the sub-package roles that they’re both going to play, they just add a lot of things, both from a tangible standpoint and an intangible standpoint. Drue’s a guy that I’ve really enjoyed getting to me and getting to know. I’m really excited about how he is going to fit within our scheme.”
On S Nasir Adderley and James complementing each other as a safety tandem:
“We’re really excited about them as a tandem. They’re both DBs, number one. Those guys can play a lot of different things for us. They’re both outstanding safeties, but they both can play Star, and they both can play Money. They both have a lot of DB characteristics. They can play at a lot of different places. That gives you a lot of flexibility, from a matchup standpoint and from a personnel grouping standpoint. Then, they’re both really good communicators. The one thing that stood out to me today, and to R-Hill, was that these guys really communicate at a high level. They can see in the deep part of the field. You guys are going to hear us talk about that. We really value that, people that can see in the deep part of the field; people that can see the quarterback in their peripheral, as well as the formation and the routes as they express themselves. We really value that, and they both can do that. We just feel like those guys are going to continue to grow with their relationship. Once they reach that comfort zone within the scheme, which they’ve already shown a pretty high comfort zone in a short amount of time, I feel like those guys will be a really nice tandem back there.”
On the importance of working with the leadership council to establish the practice formats of Phase Three:
“So important. Being brand new as a coaching staff, and learning everybody, which is brand new on both sides, if you want to be a relationship-oriented team, then you need to put your money where your mouth is. We wanted to engage them fully in the process. When I got hired here with the Chargers, I talked to [General Manager] Tom [Telesco], [President of Football Operations] John [Spanos], [Executive Vice President of Football Administration/Player Finance] Ed McGuire, [Owner and Chairman of the Board] Dean [Spanos] and shared my vision for what the offseason would look like. I learned a lot last offseason, and I felt like if there’s a middle ground, a blend in sports performance, and if you listen to the players, the big thing that the players have a real issue with is 11-on-11 with no pads and the competitive one-on-ones with no pads and the risk that it puts them in. It compromises them, from a player safety standpoint. We felt like, coming into this spot, that we could really show that our model is one that hopefully people can follow throughout the NFL, which is when we’re in individual and we’re with our sports performance staff, we’re going full speed and we’re working at our craft because that’s what players do; work at your game full speed. But then, we want to avoid all of those possibilities in one-on-ones and in competitive 11-on-11s. We’ve eliminated that. All of our 11-on-11 is pure walk-through. What we’re trying to do is create that same game-like mental intensity, ‘playing a game,’ but without doing so physically. Our guys’ health is at the center of everything that we’re doing. Hopefully, we took a step in the right direction today.”
On CB Michael Davis:
“I’m really excited about Vato. This guy has a lot of tools to work with. I think that he’s just entering the beginning of his NFL career, in my mind. This guy has a lot of confidence. I feel like he has really been able to thrive in our DB environment. This guy can press. He can playoff. He can judge the ball deep. He can really run, as you guys know. Another factor that we’ve been really impressed with is the way that his brain works. This guy can think the game. He can see the game. A lot of it, when you’re playing corner in this league, is playing that chess match against whoever you’re facing, knowing that now all of these people that you’re going against are the same. We’re hoping to be partnered up with him for many years.”
On working with the sports performance staff to optimize the time that they have with the players and work to prevent soft-tissue injuries potentially:
“Very important point. I think that our phasing of the offseason program is really, really significant. You’ll hear us talk about volume; volume one, volume two, de-load. Phasing this properly to where these guys can really get firing at the right time, and knowing when to decelerate and when to accelerate. That’s what happens when you have a one-to-one relationship with the coaches. You’re able to learn about each other and do this in a really smart way that’s data-driven. That’s the thing that we want to be. We want to be a data-driven team, where we’re following the information from the Catapult GPS data that’s at our disposal and making decisions accordingly. Our sports performance team — [Director of Sports Performance] Anthony Lomando, [Head Strength and Conditioning Coach] Jonathan Brooks, [Head Athletic Trainer] Damon Mitchell, [Associate Athletic Trainer] Marco Zucconi — those groups, combined with our coaching staff, have put some really smart plans in place. That’s been a big part of our offseason and will be a big part of our training camp. We’re hoping to create a model that keeps our players healthy but also improving.”
On how he decides which positions groups he will observe throughout practice:
“Because of our model, and because of how we set it up, during special teams, I’ll be at as many places as possible. Between [Special Teams Coordinator] Derius [Swinton II] and [Assistant Special Teams Coach] Mayur [Chaudhari], I’ll be in both places there. When we go offense and defense, as you see, we’ve two-spotted our field. The reason why we two-spot is so that our entire team can get work during the practice and we can evaluate everybody on our team, not just part of our team. There’s no way that you’re going to be able to identify the next [CB] Chris Harris [Jr.] or [RB] Austin Ekeler or [G] Matt Feiler if you don’t give these guys the opportunity to express themselves. We’ve two-spotted this field on purpose to make sure that everybody is working, coaches and players, so that we can get these reps accumulated to where people can learn what to do. That way, in the training camp part of things, these guys can go compete and really show what they can do. In terms of practice, I’m going to be where the action is on both fields, making sure that everybody is getting coached. Today, I was one field one, but field two, you’re going to see me there, too. What we’re trying to do is create as many game-like environments. From a communications standpoint, we’re using the walkie-talkie and getting our guys to operate at a high level and at a good pace with the play clock and all of that good stuff, and create that game-like environment where we can kind of evaluate how these guys operate. From an installation standpoint, we’re trying to build this thing intentionally so that at the end of this month, that we have the foundation of our scheme and that situational checklist install ready for training camp. That’s what we’re trying to do; create those staples that we’re going to need on offense, on defense and in the kicking game — having those ready so that when training camp comes, this won’t be the first time that we’ve done it together.”
On the process behind splitting the fields so that two separate groups can work at the same time:
“There are some coaches that I know have done it in the past, that I’m aware of. [Alabama Head Coach] Nick Saban is a guy that’s pretty famous for doing that at the college level. When I was at John Carroll, that’s how we organized our program with [Akron Head Coach] Tom Arth. He’s one of my best friends. We just feel like that’s the model where everybody on your team can grow and develop at a high level, not specifically to players but also coaches. That’s where they can grow a lot. That’s where your future coordinators are going to come from. You’re creating a pipeline of coaches that are growing, that will be used to running the show, running the huddle, communicating and coaching at a high level. Hopefully, what you’re doing is developing coaches and players at the same time. We all know how the NFL is; it’s a long season. It’s an attrition league. We hope that our way of doing things, that cumulative effect of this learning environment, takes shape so that we can be good at the end of the season when everything is at stake.”