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Turner Interview by Acee

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Continuing to grow

    Q&A: Chargers head coach Norv Turner

    Interview by Kevin Acee
    2:00 a.m. July 26, 2009

    Rookies report to Chargers Park today, and when veterans join them for the first full-squad workout Friday, it will officially mark the beginning of Norv Turner's third season as head coach.

    Two days ago, the often-embattled Turner, who happens to have the best postseason winning percentage of any Chargers coach, sat down for what has become an annual pre-camp Q&A with Union-Tribune Chargers beat writer Kevin Acee.

    Turner's answers, as they often tend to, sometimes meandered from the questions' intent, but they usually got to the point, and his sidetracking always served a purpose.

    There was some coach-speak, for sure, but Turner gave candid insight into his team's growth, some key players and the big training camp battles.

    What do you think your players learned from their successes and failures of the past three years?
    "I hope our guys have learned, as I've talked to them the last two years, what anyone thinks really doesn't matter. What is being said today has no bearing on what happens. I think our guys understand that. When you say that it seems like, 'They were reading their press clippings.' Well, that's too easy an out. This team has gone through a lot starting with the day I was hired. We've had our ups and downs, but the one thing everyone has to agree with is this team has continued to work and grow, and despite the struggles we've had at different times, we've been able to overcome those."

    What did you see from LT this offseason?
    "No. 1, he's really focused and determined. I think his mindset is that he's excited to have a great year. I didn't see any physical limitations at all from his injuries. I liked what I saw in terms of the explosiveness."

    What do you expect from him, since Darren Sproles will have a slightly larger role in the offense?
    "I would expect LT to be among the top three or four rushers in the league. And depending how our season goes and the games go, he'll be a factor in the rushing title. Darren is going to complement him. But Darren's starting point is in the return game and we'll pick our spots with him on offense."

    You have a healthy Shawne Merriman back. What will he bring to your team?
    "Everyone talks about his toughness, his mindset, and those things help on a day-to-day basis. But the most important thing is he's capable of making game-changing plays, and he does it on a regular basis. And those plays can happen in the first quarter and they can happen in overtime. And the team we're getting ready to play knows that and that's one more playmaker they have to contend with."

    Shawne looked really good working out on the side (in the spring), but is it possible you don't pass him right away and he doesn't start working with the team right away in camp?
    "Anything is possible, but I expect him to be ready to go when we start."

    Who starts training camp at that left defensive end spot (vacated by Igor Olshansky)?
    "(Jacques) Cesaire was put in as the starter on Day One, and he's the starter, and (Ryon) Bingham is going to be allowed to compete for the job. Cesaire has been a very good football player. He was actually playing more plays than Igor was in the last month when we played our best. People look at that as we lost a player, but in the last month Jacques played more than the guy we lost. I think we've gotten better there. The combination of Jacques as we start and Bingham, and obviously we've got a young guy (fourth-round pick Vaughn Martin), and we want to find out what he's capable of doing and get him cranking."

    The rookie the (veterans) talked about most was (strong safety) Kevin Ellison. They thought this guy was really smart and knew how to play.
    "I don't want to get ahead of ourselves. I like Kevin. There are some areas he's going to be very good and some areas he has a lot of work to do. It's going to be fun to see how he handles it."

    Strong safety, with the way the defense has evolved, you probably have three guys playing regularly at that position.
    "When you look at playing the game and all the things that come up, I think we have great competition for playing time. We do ask our secondary people to do a lot of things, so we do have great competition there."

    How much better do you expect Antonio Cromartie to be this season?
    "Cromartie burst on the scene and had a bunch of great plays. People got excited about him and started making these comparisons. I like the upside Cro has. Steve Wilks has helped him a lot ... I think our best corner is (Quentin) Jammer, because you know what you get every day, and he's so consistent. If Cro could play at the consistent level Jammer does, he has the ability to make those big plays. When we get that consistency on both sides, we can be outstanding."

    What will Kynan Forney bring that Mike Goff did not?
    "I like Mike, and he had some real good games, but he had some games where he really struggled. I believe whoever is the right guard – and that is not yet decided – will bring a level of consistency and allow us to be more physical."

    Obviously you're referring to (third-round pick) Louis Vasquez challenging Forney? What does he have to do? And when do we start seeing that battle?
    "What you're looking for in those interior people is the athleticism they have and the ability. I don't have any doubt that when Vasquez has a chance to hit someone as hard as he can he's going to be willing to hit them. But we've seen his athleticism, his movement, his intelligence, his instincts, and I'm really excited about what he showed us this spring."

    Is that the battle of camp?
    "That would jump out, but we have so many spots where people are competing to play in our nickel package, to be in our short-yardage package, so many battles. And then there are guys who maybe don't feel they played as well as they could last year. I think there are going to be some great things to watch to see how those guys are doing."

    How important is a quick start to you this year – to not be in (a hole for a third straight season)?
    "I think it would help. Obviously, we've proven you don't have to have a quick start (pause and smile). I would think it would help all of us because confidence is a big part of having success in this league, and momentum is a big part. But I wouldn't trade having a good start for being 1-3 in December, because I know how important December is and January is and momentum and playing good at that time. But it's going to be an emphasis for our team – for two (reasons). We've been through the other way, and we know it makes it harder on you, and we play very good teams in September."

    How proud are you of your record here in December?
    "It's important. I don't know if proud is the right word. I like the way our guys have played in December. The thing that has happened in December and January (with the Chargers going 12-2 in Turner's two years as head coach) is a credit to our players and the ability to zero in on what we have to do – with a lot of things that could have kept us from doing that. When teams struggle in this league, more times than not they go bad. Our team has not gone bad. They've hung in there pretty good."

  2. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Apology to Norv
    By Kevin Acee
    July 26, 2009, 8:45 a.m.

    I owe Norv Turner an apology.

    And I owe readers one too.

    I accused the Chargers coach of being meandering in some of his answers from our Q&A that ran in today's Union-Tribune. I accused him of the dreaded coachspeak. In my opening paragraphs I promised you, the reader, those things.

    His answers that followed were neither. I had written, too, that he was candid. And the answers that survived the editing process were all pretty candid. More candid than most coaches would ever care or dare to be.

    Thing is, I wrote that lead-in before I cut about 60 percent of the questions and answers from our hourlong sitdown in his office. Seriously, what I have stored in my computer is 3,800 words. What made the paper was less than 1,500.

    My mistake was in failing to alter my lead-in after all that slashing.

    Turner is meandering every day with many of his answers, and like every single football coach from peewee to the pros, he lapses into coach speak at times. He goes off-topic so much you forget what you were asking. And sometimes his answers are so boring that if I included them in stories you would probably fall asleep over your Sports section or laptop while reading them. He is, by the way, boring on purpose sometimes.

    I meant no harm. I really didn't mean to disparage Turner. And, really, what I said was not an insult. I enjoy covering him. I find him to be one of the most honest people I have encountered in the NFL.

    Simply shoddy self-editing.

    Sorry I promised meandering and coachspeak and was unable to deliver


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