SAN DIEGO – By Head Coach Norv Turner’s calculations, a long list of Chargers played the best football of their careers last season.
After missing the playoffs for the first time in his San Diego tenure, Turner gave a nod to the “you’re only as good as your weakest link” idiom. Since the NFL Combine in February, he’s peppered his replies to the media about the team’s personnel with the phrase “complete team.”
Throughout an interview previewing the 2011 season Monday, he harped on that notion.
“The big thing for me in looking at our team for the season is how we find a way to get the three units to be as productive as possible and feed off each other,” Turner said. “To do that, obviously, it’s playing great in the kicking game in terms of coverage and then improving our returns because our returns have slipped over the last couple years.”
He also emphasized generating turnovers and creating short fields with the defense and taking care of the football and making big plays on offense.
Besides being good in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams – Turner wants the units to stack positive plays on top of one another and take advantage when another unit creates good field position.
“If someone runs down there and tackles a guy inside the 15 (on a kickoff) and five guys jump on the returner’s back and the crowd starts cranking it up, the defense takes the field and there’s no question there’s momentum,” Turner said. “You create a turnover, a short field, and there’s a real sense of urgency from the offense to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got this opportunity, let’s take advantage of it.’
“You create a frenzy.”
GATES HEALTHY: Turner also confirmed that
“I did get to see him during the two-day period that the lockout was lifted and he’s excited that his rehab is going well," Turner said.
Gates caught 29 passes for 478 yards and seven touchdowns during the first five games of the 2010 season before injuring his foot Week 6 at St. Louis. He managed 304 yards and three touchdowns in the season’s final 11 games, missing six due to the injury.
“He’s going to be our lead guy (in 2011),” Turner said. “It’s a shame he got hurt a year ago because he was not only going to have his career-best year but maybe the best year ever by a tight end.“He’ll be a big part of what we do (this season) and he’ll be a great role model for our young players.”