Below are three takeaways from Monday's press conference with Brandon Staley, Justin Jones, and Drue Tranquill.
Facing Vic Fangio for the first time as head coach
The Chargers' Week 12 matchup against the Denver Broncos marks a special reunion for head coach Brandon Staley. Staley gets the chance to face the man that gave him his first break in the NFL, current Broncos head coach Vic Fangio, who was the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears at the time. After working together in Chicago and then in Denver, the two will meet for the first time as head coaches in the Mile High City this weekend.
On Wednesday, Staley talked about how much Fangio means to him and how he wouldn't be the head coach of the Chargers today if it wasn't for his first job in the NFL courtesy of Fangio.
"Vic means a lot to me," Staley said. "As much as anybody in the NFL that I've been able to work with. He's made a huge impact on the way I coach, the way I view the game. He certainly has stood the test of time in the NFL. I just really admire his path. He didn't have an easy path to coaching. He just has an incredible work ethic, incredible focus. I think he's really global with the game, being able to change with the game."
Before landing the role as outside linebackers coach for the Bears, Staley was the defensive coordinator/secondary coach at John Carroll University. Staley admitted it's rare for a Division III coach to immediately jump to the NFL and discussed what it meant for a coach of Fangio's caliber to take a chance on him in that moment.
"I was a Division III assistant coach," he said. "For one of the best coaches of the last 30 years to see something in you and to take that chance on you when so many others wouldn't, in a place like Chicago that's known for defense, to be able to say, 'Hey, I'm going to hire this guy that no one's ever heard of to coach the position that I coach.' He's an outside rusher coach, so I always took that really seriously, that I'm coaching the position that he coached. I had a front-row seat to an incredible football coach."
Getting his big break
Earlier in the week, Fangio recalled interviewing Staley to join his defensive assistant staff in Chicago. Fangio explained his philosophy was to sit back and let Staley do most of the talking in order to get as much information as possible, the only thing was, Staley didn't know that was his M.O.
"During the interview, he didn't say anything to me," Staley said. "It was a really tough deal because I'm not getting any feedback on what's going down in this interview. Silence. Nothing. He's the type of guy with no expression, nothing. I have no idea how I'm doing. I'm trying my best. I feel like I'm killing it. But, I got nothing from this guy. We take a break, they ask me and I tell them, 'I have no idea what's going on with this guy.' They're like, 'That's a good thing.'"
Despite the silence from Fangio, it paid off. Part of why Staley got the job was due to his preparation. He admitted he 'was going to study everything' going into the interview because he admired Fangio's coaching going back to his days as a defensive coordinator for Stanford and the San Francisco 49ers.
"The thing about Vic is that he appreciates people that do the work, that are really studying," he said. "He knew that I had gone back a long way in getting these examples. They were good teaching examples. They were worthy clips of little things that mean a lot to him in several different areas."
As for if Staley takes on that 'silence is golden' philosophy when it comes to how he interviews assistant coaches?
The first-year head coach said maybe he'll adopt it down the road.
"Maybe I'll become that, but I'm not that right now," he said. "I think the one thing about what I've learned in the interview process is being open-minded because I was a Division III college assistant sitting down with one of the best defensive coordinators over the last 30 years. The odds of that aren't good. Casting a wide net and having your eyes open, your ears open because you can find coaches in a lot of different places, if you're looking in the right spots and you're willing to open your mind."
Check out the best photos from the Chargers Wednesday practice at Hoag Performance Center.
Odds & ends
Justin Jones on Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater: "I think he's a better quarterback than he gets credit for, in my opinion. That's something we can't take lightly because he really is a smart quarterback. He's always been that way and we have to prepare for him how we prepare for every quarterback, every week. He is a dual-threat quarterback. He can run with his feet and he can pass. He is not afraid of the takedowns. He's smart with the ball. We have to take all of that into consideration, knowing he has the ability to make these good decisions with the ball."
Jones on facing off former college teammate Bradley Chubb: "It's definitely special, but at the end of the day, I am trying to win. I am trying to beat them down pretty badly. Take no prisoners. It's going to be a good game for everybody. Our coaches, our players, myself obviously. Some of our coaches coming over from Denver, it's going to be a real emotional game. Everybody wants to go out there and play their hardest and coach the best they possibly can to try and win this game. I don't know if he is playing this week or not, but if I had to go against [T] Rashawn Slater, I wouldn't either."
Drue Tranquill on Jones as a vocal leader: "J.J.'s been a guy I've been with for the past three years and just continues in that role you're talking about. His voice, his leadership — we can all talk about his play for hours, he's played tremendously for us. He's been a solid core guy for four years now. He continues to step up in that leadership role and it was huge for us on Sunday, played like 80-something percent of our snaps as an interior defensive lineman, which is crazy. It just speaks to the guy's work ethic, his conditioning, his commitment to the game. You see him out there leading those young guys, practice squad guys and able to put on the performance they did, I think it speaks to the leaders of that room and Justin is certainly one of those guys."
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