Over the coming weeks, we'll be checking in with the Chargers' position coaches and coordinators to get the inside scoop. We continue with Defensive Backs Coach Ron Milus.
Evaluating the Tight Ends with TE Coach John McNulty
Evaluating the Running Backs with RB Coach Ollie Wilson
Evaluating the Special Teams with STC Craig Aukerman
Evaluating the Defensive Line with DL Coach Giff Smith
Evaluating the Offense with OC Ken Whisenhunt
Evaluating the Defense with DC John Pagano
Chargers.com:Let's focus on the cornerbacks for now and talk safeties another time. After bringing in Casey Hayward, how do you see him being used in conjunction with Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers?
Milus:That's interesting that you brought that up because I talked to Jason just the other day that he has to learn nickel also. Casey and Brandon have played both outside and inside, but I want Jason to be able to go in there also at any time. If we ever get into a game where our matchup is best for Jason to be inside, we can put him in there. If we can get Jason to that point where he is comfortable as the nickel defender, and the other two guys can go outside, I think that helps us. We want those three guys to be able to play all the positions. Like we say in the room, we play defensive back. We play corner, and that doesn't mean left corner or right corner, but that also encompasses the nickel. At any point in the game, you may play all of those spots.
Chargers.com:Focusing on Verrett, he's had an impressive start to his career making the Pro Bowl in his second year. But what would you like to see him improve to take his game to even further heights?
Milus:Overall, and we've talked about it, but just being consistent all the time as far as technique is concerned. He has got the tools. Speed. Quickness. And I think his best asset may be his competitiveness. He is a competitor, and he wants to take on the other team's best receiver no matter what. That is what makes him a great football player.
Chargers.com:Flowers has talked about how his play last year was nowhere near acceptable by his standards. How has he looked this spring, and what are your expectations for him this season?
Milus:To me, Brandon has done a great job this offseason. Not a good job, I said a great job. He's gotten himself in good shape and walks into the building with a big smile on his face every day. I think he's truly gotten over whatever happened a year ago. We are looking for bigger and better things out of him, similar to his first year here. Last year happened. Ok. Now go out there this year and be the Brandon Flowers we know and are accustomed to seeing him play.
Chargers.com:How big of an addition has Casey been?
Milus:I am *so *glad we got him. He's a really good player. I think his biggest asset is his instincts. He has a good feel for the game and a good feel for where the ball is. There are some people who have a natural awareness for where the ball is, and he is one of them. He knows when to turn to the ball. If a guy is going to run an option route, he has a feel for knowing he is going to run it at five yards and so he'll make his move to make a play. I can't coach that. That is something you have, and I think he has that.
Chargers.com:What are your thoughts of Craig Mager, and what will his role be in 2016?
Milus:Craig's another one that's improved. I'm excited for Craig. For a guy that's come from a small college environment, he doesn't act like it. He thinks he went to Michigan or USC like anyone else. I think that's awesome. The one thing about Craig is he's a hard worker and is willing to be coached. He's like a brand new piece of clay. We get to mold him like how we want him, and he is going in the right direction. I think he's improved. I'm looking for bigger and better things from him. He gives us flexibility. He can play nickel and go outside. If push comes to shove, he can go back and play safety for us.
Chargers.com:Steve Williams had a huge game in Week 17 last year. He had a big game at the end of the season the year before, too. How do you get him to play with that level of consistency?
Milus:That's the key question. Steve is very capable of playing at a high level in the National Football League. We've seen that. We just have to develop some consistency with him. I think he's got all the tools because he can run with anybody. He might be the fastest player on our team. He has good change of direction, so he needs to keep pushing himself.
Chargers.com:Greg Ducre fought off some injuries last year and saw some action down the stretch. How do you feel about Ducre?
Milus:He's similar to Steve. He is a little undersized but is very competitive. He doesn't think he was undrafted; he walks around like he was a first rounder. I do like that about him. He's a guy who can run, is fast and he also has good change of direction.
Chargers.com:From Richard Crawford to undrafted guys like Larry Scott, Terrell Chestnut and Trevor Williams, what do they need to do to earn a spot?
Milus:Well, I think they need to keep doing what they are doing now. Larry had a hell of a day last Tuesday where he showed the ability to make the unusual play. To make the acrobatic catch. Terrell has a lot of ability, and Trevor's got talent, size, speed and quickness. I think his best football still may be in front of him. And obviously with Crawford, he's got playmaking ability. He does a nice job with route recognition and is very, very smart.
Chargers.com:So safe to say you are pleased with how the offseason program has progressed?
Milus:Absolutely. I'm very pleased with how our guys are playing right now. And I feel really good with how our guys are coming together off the field. I think guys feel good about being here and around each other. They are celebrating big plays being made on the field, so there is a different feel among our guys.