Brandon Staley led the number one defense in the NFL last season, and despite overseeing the entire operation as the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers this year, his presence is clearly being felt on that side of the ball during training camp.
With defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill, they're implementing a defense that is predicated on keeping opposing offenses on high alert.
"They haven't seen anything like this," mentioned defensive tackle Justin Jones. "They haven't seen the speed we have in our defense. They're allowing the guys to be themselves and allowing guys to show their defensive personalities through the scheme. Being able to make certain plays and being able to showcase their abilities, it's going to be exciting to see. It's going to be really scary for a lot of teams."
While it may be "scary" for opposing teams, it's a welcomed challenge for the Chargers offense.
Just ask Corey Linsley, a veteran who has seen a lot during his time in the league.
"[The defense is] a pain in the butt, man," Linsley said. "You have to be on your stuff. He brings a ton of looks. They look like the same looks, but they're not the same looks. [Head Coach Brandon Staley] brings a ton of blitz and twists, so you have to keep your head up. The biggest thing is playing with great fundamentals. His defense makes you think, No. 1. I know for the offensive line, the quarterback, it makes all of us think. You have to be on your stuff."
That multiplicity is something that's radiating among positions in the unit. Last week, we heard Chris Harris Jr. talk about learning the safety position. This week, Jones discussed how the defensive line is multiple as well.
"It allows a team the inability to adjust to what we're doing," Jones explained. "It keeps them on their toes, which means offensive linemen are on their toes. They're not going to know who's blitzing — who's coming and who's not coming. We're showing two different people on the line, we're pulling guys away, we're bringing guys all the time. We're never a stand-still defense and that's going to make us really hard to beat.
"It's really refreshing. It'll be really confusing for a lot of [opposing] guys. I'm excited about that because it's going to be hard to figure us out —figure out what we're doing, what we're bringing. It's going to change game by game, so nobody's going to have a beat on what we're doing. That's really exciting."
Odds & Ends
Special teams coordinator Derius Swinton on coaching the unit during camp: "A great coach back in the day told me that you have to get the horse to the derby. We have to get them to preseason games. But, we have to get them ready. You don't just jog the horse, you have to run it and you have to stride it. That's where we're at right now. We're trotting a little bit. Now, we're jogging. Sunday, we'll get to the scrimmage, and now we're getting a nice little gallop. Then, you get to the Rams, and now you get to the derby. That's where we're trying to get these guys. Get the horses to the derby and just get them ready over and over and over."
Linsley on the offensive line's chemistry: "Our offensive line room has a great bunch of dudes. I feel like the culture here, at least from what I've experienced, is phenomenal. Again, like I just said, the communication is key. Being able to talk with your guys with someone not getting sensitive, myself included. I need to change something that I'm doing because [G] Matt [Feiler] or Oday [Aboushi] have been doing it another way. I'm able to do that. That's something that I have to work on —and same thing with them. We've been able to do that. I feel like that's when you really come together is by listening to each other. It sounds so simple, but we've all been playing for a pretty long time, except for [T] Rashawn [Slater]. We've all played a lot of ball so we've all kind of gotten, not set in our ways, but we've done things a certain way. For us to be able to move within that space of how to do it, that's given me so much confidence in us."
Take a look at some of the best photos from the sixth day of Chargers Training Camp 2021.
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