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Monday thoughts: Norv Turner

Posted Oct 25, 2010

San Diego's head coach discusses the loss to New England, the emphasis the team places on ball security and his early thoughts about the Titans.

Head Coach Norv Turner

The injury situation, there’s really nothing of significance right now that I’d report. If there’s something that changes we’ll give you that update in the injury report on Wednesday.

I’m probably going to start this about the way I started it after the game. You do the things with the football that we did in the first half with four turnovers and you’re not giving yourself a chance to go win a game against a good team. When I look at the tape with the coaches in all three phases, there’s a lot of good things we’re doing; there’s things we need to do better. None of them matter. If you turn the ball over four times in the first half, we’re not giving ourselves a chance to win a football game. I got a lot of questions yesterday about the turnovers.

There’s a lot of things you look at. I think one of the best things this staff does is coach the details in those areas. A year ago we were second in the NFL for fewest turnovers. We had 17. We lost seven fumbles.

We made an emphasis this year because we knew we would have a lot of new guys handling the football. Earlier in the year it was clear that (Mike) Tolbert and Ryan (Mathews) didn’t understand the way you have to handle the football in this league. I think they’ve gotten a lot better understanding. I think they’ve done better as it’s gone on.

Unfortunately I think we’ve had some people handle the ball who shouldn’t be handling the ball. Probably aren’t ready to play. We’ve put them in and given them an opportunity because we thought they could give us a play. We’ve got to bring them up to speed where they’re ready to go in a game in this league and handle the football.

Who are you referring to there?

Yesterday obviously we had a couple guys handle the ball that don’t handle the ball a lot. Goodman obviously is one of them and Kris Wilson is one of them.

Don’t you need to handle the ball well in college too? What’s the difference between college and the NFL level?

It’s a big difference.

On the number of turnovers already passing last year’s mark

Early we had (negative) special teams plays. People were saying, ‘That’s keeping them from winning.’ (Fumbles are) the one thing that’s kept us from having a chance to win throughout this entire season. I can go through them. We fumbled the ball coming off our own 20 against Kansas City. They got the ball on the 12. It set up a touchdown to go ahead. Obviously we fumbled the ball on the 6 in Seattle. We fumbled the ball on the 1 against the Raiders. Those plays obviously have a significant effect on a football game.

On if the Patriots played to the whistle and the Chargers didn’t concerning fumbles that involved Goodman and Hester

If you watched the play to Hester, the side judge waives his arms to say incomplete. It’s very clear. Everyone on the field stopped. Then one Patriot started running. Then everyone else started running. But I think some of the guys may have seen the side judge waive his arms and assumed the ball was incomplete. That is not an excuse. We should go get on the football if it’s laying on the ground. But if you look close you’ll see those things I’m talking about.

Did you get an explanation on that pass interference on Cason?

No, you don’t get an explanation.

Do you have any good news on (Nate) Kaeding?

I don’t think Kaeding will be available. I do believe that we have a chance at getting Legedu back, which would be good.

On Malcom Floyd

I would not anticipate Malcom would be ready to play (against the Titans).

On Vincent Jackson

That’s the furthest thing from my mind right now. The thing that’s on my mind is, what do we have to do to get this team ready to play the best it can play against Tennessee? Obviously one of the things we have to do is go into the game and take care of the football and not let them get the ball on the 21-yard line and not let them get the ball on the 7-yard line after turnovers.

Aren’t these guys schooled to go after loose balls?

Absolutely they are. Both teams I’m sure are. But every single guy on the field stopped.

Are there as many mistakes in practices as there are on Sundays?

Our guys offensively and then defensively, there’s been as big an emphasis as I’ve ever been around on taking care of the ball and stripping the ball. You don’t go live (or) finish tackles in practice. You wouldn’t be able to make it through a season if you did that. We do a good job of securing the ball in practice. The errors are significant. It’s easy to fall into the thinking saying, ‘Well, the volume of errors…’ It’s not a matter of the number of errors we’re having. It’s the type of errors we’re having and how significant they are because they have to do with possession of the ball.

On if the players aren’t listening to emphasis on ball security

No. Ryan Mathews and Michael Tolbert have made significant improvement on the way they’re handling the football. Kris Wilson doesn’t handle the ball a lot. He was trying to make a play where he had no chance of getting the first down. It would’ve been wise for him to get down and not put the ball in that position of jeopardy.

On if players are overextending in trying to make big plays

I don’t think that was the case in the plays we had yesterday.

How much time do you spend making sure players don’t press?

My experience with handling the ball is it’s about technique and understanding what defenses are going to do in terms of come and try to rip your arms off to get the ball. The technique is the issue. As I said, I think the problems that Ryan and Tolbert were having early in the year had a lot to do with their technique and I think they’ve improved their technique significantly.

Can you talk about Antwan Applewhite and how far he’s come?

Unfortunately that’s the deal when you have four turnovers and you put yourself in that hole and then you go fight back to get in the game. Obviously we had a chance to tie the game. What’s lost in that is you have guys who are improving who are making solid contributions who are playing at a high level, and obviously Applewhite played at a high level, Shaun Phillips played at a high level, I thought Coop (Stephen Cooper) was outstanding. We’re getting some pass rush we haven’t had from (Antwan) Barnes. So there’s obviously a lot of good things that are lost because obviously we didn’t win the football game.

Kris Brown says there’s no difference between a 45-yard field goal and a 50-yard field goal. Do you think the penalty had maybe anything to do with it?

I would go with what Kris said. There’s a number of things involved in that and you take it for granted. When you have a David Binn and you have Mike Scifres and you have the whole group that we’ve had together for so long, you can take it for granted. We have a new center and we have a new kicker. Not making an excuse, you can’t false-start, you can’t move, but there’s some issues we have to deal with so we can make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Why would there be a false start on a field goal?

There’s some things that we have to deal with. Obviously there’s a sense of urgency about making sure there’s no seepage. They had everyone up in a desperation block. We do have a new center. His timing is a little bit different. We have a new kicker. Mike made sure to give Kris a long time to get ready. Those guys were down over the ball for a lot longer than normal. They’ve got to be able to handle it, but we’ve got some work to do to get that group to where they’ve been.

On Applewhite and what he’s improved upon

I think he’s got a very good understanding of the defense. I think he’s playing with great leverage and strength and he’s not getting himself out of position. He understands the defense. When he’s supposed to keep his outside arm free he’s doing a good job of that. When he’s on a stunt he knows where to go. When you’ve played enough and you have confidence, I think you’re able to go play at another level.

On taking things one game at a time

A lot of people want to look at a lot of different things. Our approach is going to be win one football game. We’re playing a team that knows where we are right now. They started a year ago 0-6 and lost to New England 59-0 and I’m sure Jeff (Fisher)’s approach to his team was, ‘Let’s go win a game and get back going,’ and they end up winning eight of their last 10. So they’re a very good team. They’re better now than they’ve been, so it’ll be a real challenge for us to go win the football game.

On the physical Titans

It’ll be a challenge for each phase, offense, defense, special teams, but I think when our guys put the film on, they’ll see it’s a real challenge for each individual because there are going to be some real good matchups in this game.

What would you write if you were a sports writer?

The good thing is I don’t have to do that, so I can’t get into it. The biggest thing for me is I understand that everyone in this room has a job to do. And you’re going to write what you see and how you feel about it and that’s what your job is.

You talked about guys that aren’t ready to handle the football. You mentioned Goodman and Wilson. Do you have enough guys on this team as it stands right now going into Tennessee to be confident?

I think getting Legedu Naanee back will help us. That’s another guy. We have to find a way to make sure we don’t turn the ball over so we can let our guys, the Mike Tolberts and Ryan Mathews, get enough opportunities to handle the ball so they can have an effect on the game.

On Richard Goodman apologizing for putting the ball on the ground

Those things are private, but Richard Goodman is a young guy who tries as hard as maybe any young player I’ve ever been around. He’s a high-energy guy that’s got great speed. Any mistake he makes has nothing to do with how he works at it or how much he cares about it.

On Ron Rivera and the defensive performance against New England

I thought we had a great week of practice and I thought the things we did in practice really carried over to New England. We’ve played New England quite a bit. We have a pretty good understanding of how they attack you and what they do and I think it showed up in the way our guys played.

On if Mathews isn’t quite ready

He’s ready. We had four drives in a row where we turned the football over. The second half, Darren Sproles plays in our nickel package. We’re in our nickel package. When they went down and scored the opening drive, it became a game of time and possessions and we were going to have to go in our nickel package and try to move the ball quickly and get points.

On why they weren’t able to run well early

I really thought we had four or five plays blocked pretty well. We didn’t get the production out of them that I would expect us to and I think our backs right now are trying to be perfect with their cuts instead of just going physical and getting as many yards as there are on the play. And they have some good defensive players and they handled two or three of our runs pretty well. And that’s what you’d expect out of a team like New England.

On Antonio Gates’ limited role early in the game and on playing through injury

That’s never by design. There were a number of things where we were going to try to get the ball to them. They had two guys on him a great deal of time. They certainly always had one guy banging him at the line and another guy covering him after the fact. He did allow some other guys to get open. I think there were two or three times in the first half we probably could’ve gotten the ball to him and we threw it somewhere else.

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