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Conference call: Gailey and Florence
HEAD COACH CHAN GAILEY
Is there anything you can put your finger on as far as the turnaround after such a quick start?
Just lack of execution. We’ve not been able to execute the way we were earlier in the season and it has cost us.
Is it getting better or worse?
Well, we had a couple really bad games in there that we didn’t play well in any phase. The last couple games we’ve played better, so I’m hoping we can continue that.
What did you think of the Chargers-Jaguars game Monday?
I thought that the Chargers looked like a dominant football team. They stuffed (Jacksonville) on defense except for a drive or two there. Offensively, they were hitting on all cylinders especially right before the half. They did a great job.
How can you explain a team doing that well having lost six in a row?
If I could explain that, I would be able to sell a book for millions and millions. Nobody can explain that. Sometimes you go out there and the things that you’re trying to get done they get done, and some weeks they don’t get done the way you need them to get done. There’s no explanation for it. Everybody looks for a reason. Everybody looks for what it might be, but I don’t think anybody knows that.
Last week was the first time Philip Rivers had a lot of time to operate. Does that make your primary concern your pass rush? Getting some pressure on him?
Well, it is, but that is every week for us. We all know that in this league if you can rattle the passer a little bit – you don’t have to sack him a bunch, but if you can rattle him, it makes his job tougher. That’s what you’re always trying to do is create enough pressure so that he’s just not standing back there calmly and deliver the ball. You do that for Philip and he’ll kill you.
What’s been the issue for your pass rush?
We just haven’t been able to get there. We’re not technically doing the things that we need to do when we just rush four and when we try to blitz we’re not getting there or we’re not covering long enough so that the ball can be thrown quickly. It’s a combination of things. Again, there’s not one answer. If it was one thing we would’ve already solved that problem.
Aaron Maybin has been a little bit of a spark with the Jets. I know you guys drafted him hoping he would bring that pass rush. What happened there?
He was just not productive when he was here with us. We would put him in and he just wasn’t a productive player. They’re strictly using him as a third-down rusher and we didn’t have that luxury.
How dependent were you on Shawne Merriman given the health issues that he had here and there, and how did it affect you when he went down again?
It hurts a football team any time you lose a great player. When Shawne is fully healthy, he can be a great player. We all know what he was like in years past. It’s not like he’s old. He’s not. So we were hoping he’d bring us that pass-rush threat that people had to look at and worry about and see and chip or whatever it was. When you lose a guy like that it hurts your pass rush.
Did you ever really see the Shawne Merriman who was really on his game?
Not 100 percent, no. We saw some flashes of it in preseason when he made some sacks and made some plays. He was in a couple preseason games and played like nine plays and had two sacks. You could see it, but I don’t think he was ever 100 percent.
On the Chargers’ offensive line injuries
Well, any time you lose offensive linemen it hurts you. The communication and the continuity of an offensive line is critical to any team’s success. That’s probably the one area of a football team that has to have that continuity and that chemistry so that they can protect the passer and block for the run game. Communication – it’s very difficult when you don’t have that to be able to function. We can identify. We lost our left tackle and our center, so we can identify. We know what kind of struggles they’ve been going through.
Can you describe the difference in your secondary? Something like 16 interceptions early on and now they’re not coming as frequently?
It has something to do with not getting pressure on the passer. It has something to do with not competing for the ball when it’s in the air. We were able to get some tips earlier in the season and we caught ’em and now the tips are falling to the ground. It was somewhat unusual how many we got in such a short period of time there. Now it’s averaging out for the season, but we’re not getting any now.
Personnel’s a lot different though, isn’t it?
Yeah, personnel is different. We don’t have Terrence McGee back there. We haven’t had George Wilson back there. That’s hurt us. We’ve been trying to play some of those younger rookies and they haven’t been able to react and do the things that you normally do when you have some experience back there.
Where does Drayton Florence fit into all this?
Drayton’s been a good player for us. He’s made a lot of plays. He’s given up a few but he and Jarius Byrd have probably been the most consistent players back there for us.
What kind of development have you seen from C.J. Spiller between the tackles?
He did well last week. We fell 13 points back and we had to try to throw it there in the second half. I would like for him to have touched it more times in the second half, but it just didn’t work out that way. I think he’ll get better and better as time goes on the more touches he gets. You could tell he was rusty the first game he played when we played at the Jets, and then he was better last week. I think he’ll continue to get better.
What are you seeing with him between the tackles specifically?
He can run between the tackles. Everybody says because somebody’s little they can’t run between the tackles. But y’all had one there and I’ve been around a bunch of little ones that can run between the tackles. That’s not an issue.
What’s it like working with Buddy Nix and can you talk about the job he’s done in flipping that roster?
He does a super job. He has a great eye for talent. He understands about coaching because he coached. He gets that part of it. We were able to visit every day and talk every day and that’s been a blessing, because you have to be on the same page. It’s hard to win if you’re not on the same page with the GM, so I was fortunate to be able to hook up with Buddy. He and I, we’ve got the same accent so we understand each other somewhat.
Does he see things that other people might not see in young players?
He must because he seems to find guys that maybe some other people miss. He must have an eye for talent and for what a guy can do. We’re into production now. If you’ve never produced as a college player, we’re not going to pay attention that much, but if you produced, just because you might not run a 40 time or you might not have certain credentials, we’ll give you a shot to play.
Coach, what are a few areas you have to win or at least hold your own Sunday to win?
Well, we have to win in all three phases. We’re not a dominant enough football team to go out there and dominate one phase and break even in two. We have to win all three phases in order to be able to win a football game. We’re just not that experienced. Things are not in place. Plus our guys have not played together. We’ve got a bunch of new guys even this year from the year before, so we’re still building this thing and we have to hit on all cylinders to win football games.
When you were 5-2, did you have a feeling that the wall could come down pretty quick?
Oh yeah. We were winning games in very unique fashions coming back the way we did against good football teams. We played extremely well some days, probably better than we deserve to play. I knew it could happen and it can happen. It can happen to good football teams. I think we still have a chance to be a good football team but we’ve got a lot of work to do yet.
CB DRAYTON FLORENCE
You’re really active in helping out military families. Is that something that started with your involvement here in San Diego?
I was a military brat growing up, so I started my foundation when I was in San Diego. In the past year I’ve refocused my target group to military families. I just tweaked it a little bit and started focusing on helping out military families and narrowing down the type of people that I associate with and help out.
What are your thoughts on coming back here?
It should be good. It’s always good to come to a warm-weather city. Obviously playing there for five years and being able to start my career there, it’s going to be exciting to see the guys and compete against those guys I used to play with. It’s going to be a good time for me.
On the Chargers’ recent seasons
I haven’t really watched them that much. I see they made the playoffs a few times after I left. I really think we had the best shot to win it that last year I was there and the year before and the year after. Some of the guys are still there that came in with me. Jacques Cesaire and Antonio Gates. It’s good to see guys that came into the league with you still playing and playing well. It’s going to be exciting to go back down and compete against those guys.
Anyone you keep in contact with?
Yeah, a few of the guys. It was actually funny that me and (Shawne) Merriman got back on the same team. Shaun Phillips every now and then. Mike Scifres. Michael Turner was with me there. He’s now in Atlanta. I’ve watched guys go different places and continue to have good careers. That’s what it’s all about, just staying around the league, being a professional, preparing each and every week. That’s what we’re doing now. It’s going to be a good opportunity for us to go out and get off of this losing streak that we’re on and go out and get a win.
On the lack of pass rush and it affecting the DBs
Any time you can get the quarterback dropping back on three, four, five-step drops and having to throw it to his first read, obviously it’s a lot easier for us as defensive backs, where the quarterback doesn’t have much time to throw the ball. He’s got to pretty much go to his first read. But our guys are continuing to work and they’re going to continue to work to get pressure. The coordinator is mixing up a few things to give the offense a few different looks. Hopefully that’ll work for us. We had one game where we had nine sacks. If we can continue to get back to where we did that one game, getting pressure on the quarterback like that, obviously it’s going to help us get victories, and that’s why we’re in this thing, to get wins.
Are your memories of playing here good?
It’s great memories. That’s where I started my career. I was fortunate enough to be drafted there. It gave me an opportunity to come in and play. I won a lot of games out in San Diego. We got close. Played in the AFC Championship game. We battled a lot of injuries during that game. Philip (Rivers) was hurt. LT (LaDainian Tomlinson) was hurt. (Antonio) Gates was hurt. I think we kicked five field goals that game. My career there was fair. We didn’t win a Super Bowl there, but I gained a lot of respect around the league from a lot of my peers and I made a lot of good relationships. I was just happy to have the opportunity to go out and compete and I tried to make the most of it.
On his relationship with the Chargers’ front office after leaving the team
I didn’t have ill will. Business is business. When it’s time to get paid you either get paid or you don’t and you go somewhere else. Each player has their own representation that they deal with to make those decisions. I didn’t have any ill will against anybody there. I thought it was a little strange for us to go 14-2 and our head coach to get fired, but that’s something players can’t control. We’ve just got to go out and play, and when we’re given the opportunity to make plays that’s what we’ve got to do.
What was going on in the secondary the first part of the season with all the interceptions compared to the last few weeks?
Obviously we had a lot of guys making a lot of plays on the ball, getting interceptions and taking them back for touchdowns. Any time you can do that it just gives you a better opportunity to win the football game. Those first few games we were pretty hot on the turnovers streak and we’ve hit a slump. We’ve got to get back to that if we expect to win games in this football league because it’s very competitive week in and week out. Philip had been struggling throwing interceptions and he’s gotten that cleaned up the last few games and they’ve tried to get it turned around. Any time we can create turnovers and get turnovers, obviously it’s going to give us a better chance to win. We’ve got to get back to doing that. Getting pressure on the quarterback. Forcing errant throws. When you’ve got tight coverage and there’s errant throws, that’s when the picks come. If we can get back to that, we can probably get out of this losing streak that we’re in right now.
On facing Vincent Jackson
It should be fun. I look forward to the opportunity. Vincent’s had a great career there. He’s a hard worker. Great athlete. Good competitor. It’s going to be a good opportunity for me to go out and compete against one of the best receivers in the league. Read