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Evaluating the Defense with DC Gus Bradley
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Over the coming weeks, we’ll be checking in with the Chargers’ position coaches and coordinators to get the inside scoop. We continue with Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley.
Bradley: It’s the audience. What I mean by that is in our meeting room, we have an unbelievable group of guys. They are attentive and sharp. You can see that it is extremely important to them. That, and just how fast they are picking things up. They are very sharp. It’s a captive audience, and you can tell they are very close. When all is said and done, you want a team that plays for one another. That’s the whole objective. When they do that, they own it, and that is when they can do great things. I sense that here. They care about each other, and they really help each other. It’s very important to have a close-knit team like this.
Chargers.com: We’re finishing up the first week of OTAs. What is it specifically you want to see out of this defense during this final phase of the offseason?
Bradley: Precision. This is a precision league. You see offenses; their whole objective is to be precise in what they do. Defensively it’s no different. So, when we are installing a new defense, it’s how fast can we get precise not only in the techniques, but the communication, too. Communication is so big in games, whether it takes place prior to the snap or after. So, we really want to try to get that done but also (establish) a mindset, too. We want to be a ball-hawking defense. Instilling a mindset that every play we call is designed to get the ball away is what we are looking to do.
Chargers.com: Being this is your first season with the Bolts, how much do you have to split up your time focusing on the so called “starters” and those who are fighting for depth spots as role players, which we all know are very important?
Bradley: Every year, someone stands out. Someone is going to have some great practices and OTAs where he really stands out. It happens every season. So, it’s important to keep your eye on everybody during every session because you don’t know who that guy is. I’ve really been impressed with a guy like Adrian Phillips. He’s very sharp in meetings and takes it over onto the field. As a coach, you want to have players you can really trust. That’s a guy like Adrian. I mean, he is on it every day. It’s great.
Chargers.com: I want to focus on the different positions groups for a bit, so let’s start with the secondary. You mentioned Phillips, and everyone knows what Jason Verrett, Casey Hayward, Jahleel Addae and the other vets can do. What was it about Rayshawn Jenkins and Desmond King that made those two defensive backs targets in the draft?
Bradley: Jatavis’ speed really stands out. He has the traits to do what we ask out of linebackers. He has the speed to play the run, but also what we ask in coverage. I think Denzel has really come back in good shape. The speed he’s shown just in the drill work is very intriguing. We know his explosiveness and the pop that he has, so he is a very exciting player. And a guy like Kyle, he will fit in well as the OTTO for us. Korey Toomer and Joshua Perry are two more guys who are competing in there, and they have the skillsets we are looking for. Along with what we want in our defensive line, what we have at linebacker is a pretty good match.
Chargers.com: Speaking of the defensive line, it’s impossible not to talk about Joey Bosa. Everyone saw how impressive he was as a rookie, but what is it you are looking for out of him in his second year?
Chargers.com: Beyond Joey, what are your thoughts on the defensive line as a whole?
Bradley: Sometimes in free agency, the most important signings are the guys in the building. I think that’s the case with Damion Square and Tenny Palepoi. Both have really good traits. I love their work ethic and how they go about it. They are true professionals. It’s extremely important to them. I was very excited we were able to get them back and have them there with Brandon (Mebane), Corey (Liuget) and others.