BoltHype, the San Diego Chargers blog, had a recent opportunity to chat with Head Coach Norv Turner. In the interview, we asked a number of questions including the status of the offensive backfield, the battle at right guard, and if the Chargers will show any Wildcat formations during the regular season. Click on to read the interview in it's entirety:
Philip Rivers had an MVP-type season last year as far as I'm concerned. He is certainly one of the better QBs in the AFC, if not the entire NFL. Could you see Philip getting more opportunities to throw the ball this season? Could he have 500-600 attempts this year, or does the commitment to the running game take those opportunities away?
"We want to be balanced. We want to be able to run and throw the ball with equal proficiency. The perception is that we became a passing team because we threw the ball extremely well last year. We were in situations where we needed to throw the ball and our quarterback had a great year."
Speaking of the running game, is it safe to say that LT will get 300 carries this season?
"That wouldn’t surprise me. We expect LT to be 100% and have an LT kind of year."
If LT goes down for an extended period of time, who steps up and fills that role?
"Darren Sproles would step in as he did last year. Michael Bennett is a veteran who was here part of the season last year and will compete there as well. Jacob Hester is in the mix, and Gartrell Johnson has been impressive this spring and will compete."
Is Jacob Hester a fullback or a tailback?
"Jacob is focusing on fullback, but he can also carry the ball.
Does Darren Sproles have a defined role in the system or will his role in the offense continue to expand?
We’d like to continue to expand Darren’s role. He’s really improving as a runner. He’s using his eyes, finding soft spots in the defense and has developed much better patience."
How many running backs + fullbacks will the final roster contain?
"That won’t be determined until training camp."
For the arm-chair coordinators out there, what position does Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers play (X, Y, Z)?
"Chris is the X, Vincent plays Z."
Speaking from a fan's perspective, it seems to me that Jackson is a vertical, deep ball type receiver, whereas Chris Chambers can also be that guy but he is much more polished as a route runner and does some different things with more breaks in his routes. Is that an accurate observation? What are the biggest strengths that Jackson and Chambers posses?
"Both players possess similar abilities. They both run well, are outstanding route runners, have excellent ball skills and will go up and get the ball at its highest point. Chris plays bigger than he actually is and he had several big plays for us last year. I think Vincent is really under-appreciated outside of San Diego. He had seven catches of 40-plus yards last year and is a dangerous deep threat."
In terms of evaluation offensive lineman, what goes in to determining who the starter will be, and who will be the backup? Specifically, I'm curious about the process that you and the coaching staff will go through in deciding who will start at right guard. Is the top criteria strictly playbook knowledge, or does physical ability also factor in? Could a guy who is a bit raw have the chance to start if he was physically dominant?
"The main thing we do in the spring is get guys ready to compete for jobs in camp. The real evaluation comes when we get to camp and get the pads on. It’s about endurance, understanding leverage and angles, your ability to work with the guy next to you. The right guard battle is shaping up to be a good one, but we’ve got several guys who will compete for backup spots, for roster spots and for the opportunity to be one of the 45 guys that dress on Sunday."
Will the Chargers show any Wildcat looks this season (please!)?
"We have practiced it mostly for the benefit of our defense. However, if we get good at it, who knows."
Thanks so much for the time Coach Turner, and good luck this season!
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