SAN DIEGO – Brian Billick believes the Chargers are capable of contending for an AFC West championship again in 2011.
Visiting Chargers Park last week to film segments for the FoxSports.com show “Coach Speak,” the loquacious Billick provided his offseason Chargers thoughts. The general tenor brimmed with optimism.
“We don’t know what the offseason is exactly going to look like. Whatever it is, it’s going to be condensed,” Billick said. “When we start the season out, those teams that have that consistency at the coaching position or at the quarterback position are going to have a huge advantage.
“Clearly you have this in San Diego.”
After talking fundamentals with four assistant coaches for the show, Billick called Head Coach Norv Turner and the coaches a strength of the organization.
“Norv has done such a great job. I’ve known Norv Turner for, gosh, 30 years,” Billick said. “At the end of the day, coaching is teaching, and that’s probably something I’ve admired about Norv. Of all the abilities he has as a coach, he’s a good teacher.
“He understands the fundamentals of the game. It’s not what (coaches) know. It’s what (players) know and can execute. Sometimes you get lost in the guruness of the NFL sometimes.”
Billick had plenty to say regarding other Chargers topics. Here are some of his thoughts.
What did you think of the Chargers’ draft?
“I saw this draft as one that the rich got richer. And obviously (General Manager) A.J. Smith does a great job here,” Billick said, heaping praise on San Diego’s core group of players. “You find that, yeah, you can be that (talented), but you need to bring that next level of player in.
“Maybe they’re not an immediate starter for you. But they’re guys that play roles. They don’t have to be a starter from Day One. They don’t have to give you 1,000 snaps on the year. But particularly the rookies, if you can find a specific role for them, (they can help you win). I think the core of guys that San Diego took may find specific roles for themselves.”
The consensus is that producing more big plays on defense, committing fewer turnovers and improving special teams are three ways San Diego could improve. Do you agree?
“That’s a formula that’s going to work for everybody. This game has long been about eliminating big plays and getting turnovers.
“Obviously for the Chargers, it’s well-documented. You’re talking about No. 1 in offense and No. 1 in defense (in the NFL). When does that happen? And you don’t make the playoffs. Well, clearly you’ve got to look at that third phase.
“Particularly early in the season they struggled with it. Obviously that’s going to be a point of emphasis. Things just didn’t work at times and sometimes it’s hard to put your thumb on it specifically but obviously the talent is here.
“And obviously getting off to a good start (is important). That’s got to be the main focus of this team, ‘How do we not get into that start we’ve had the last few years?’ Because if they do (start fast), the confidence this team will have by not putting themselves in a little bit of a hole, it could get lethal.”
What will new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky do for this team?
“Greg has such a passion for what he’s doing. There’s a certain toughness that comes with a Greg Manusky-coached team. And these guys are going to understand that. (He has) a great mind for the game. He’s been around some very good coaches. I think he’s excited to be back here.
“He’s got great talent. (He’s) very multiple. The thing I always admired about Greg, he’s going to size up what his players do best and he’s going to make sure he puts them in that position.”