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New LB Coach Bob Babich is Bullish on Bolts' Young 'Backers
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One conversation with Bob Babich is all it takes to see why he coveted the Chargers linebackers coach position.
Joining the Bolts after spending the past three seasons as the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator, he sees a young roster rife with talent that can be difference makers in the NFL.
Most importantly, he sees a unit that boasts playmakers.
With 33 years of coaching experience under his belt, Babich firmly believes that the linebacker position can be a key to an entire defense. As such, he demands a lot out of his players and is determined to maximize their ability.
“The first thing we want to do is make sure we put our guys in a position to play fast. Through our meetings, preparation, assignments, techniques and fundamentals, we want to allow them to play fast. We want the attitude that when we play fast, good things can happen for us. What we want to do as a unit is more than just make tackles. We want to make big plays, so we will do everything we can to help the team be successful. We will do everything in our power whether in the meeting room, practice field or on game day.”
Part of the reason Babich is so bullish on the Bolts’ young linebackers is because of his firsthand experience with many of them. In fact, he spent a week up close and personal with Jerry Attaochu and Denzel Perryman as their coach at the Senior Bowl the past two seasons.
Melvin Ingram and Manti Te’o are two additional linebackers that Babich is awfully familiar with as he vetted them leading up to their respective drafts.
“I was at Melvin Ingram’s workout at the University of South Carolina, and I was able to see his athleticism and ability to move. You could see the playmaking ability that he had. And I remember evaluating Manti obviously, and I knew he was going to be a very, very good football player. He had a big pick against Jacksonville last year, and I was able to see that.”
Meanwhile, even though Babich doesn’t have a previous relationship with Kyle Emanuel, they share a deep bond as well due to their ties with North Dakota State. Emanuel starred for the Bison before the Bolts selected him in the fifth round last year while Babich spent five seasons as the school’s head coach from 1997-02.
Although Babich doesn’t have a preexisting relationship with Emanuel, he does have one with another former North Dakota State linebacker who spent time with the Bolts in 2015.
“I recruited Joe Mays,” he said. “I recruited him all the way up to signing day (just after I left), and he had committed to North Dakota State before I left.”
Finally, Babich’s ties to the team extend beyond just the players. He’s known Defensive Coordinator John Pagano for over 20 years, and relishes the chance to coach alongside him and the rest of the staff this season.
“I’ve known Pagano for a long time. I coached with his brother Chuck in 1992 and 1993 at East Carolina University. So I’ve known John a long time, and we’ve talked a lot of ball throughout the years at the Combine, the Senior Bowl or wherever it may be. We were familiar with each other, so obviously that helped with this process. But also with Jacksonville, we’d played the Chargers the last three years I was there, so I have an awful amount of respect for the organization and coaching staff. To get the opportunity I have, I’m just as excited as can be.”