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Evaluating the Quarterbacks with QB Coach Shane Steichen

Over the coming weeks, we'll be checking in with the Chargers' position coaches and coordinators to get the inside scoop. We continue with Quarterbacks Coach Shane Steichen.

Chargers.com:How would you summarize the quarterbacks as whole through this point in the offseason?

Steichen: They've been really good.  We have a lot of continuity coming over from last year with Philip Rivers and Kellen Clemens returning. We brought Mike Bercovici back in, which has been good.  He's been in the system for a year, so that room's been pretty close.  Also adding Eli Jenkins has been really good. He has done a nice job so far.  It's a good group.

Chargers.com: What has been your main focal point with the quarterbacks this offseason? 

Steichen:The major focal point is protecting the football.  We've been talking about it here in the classroom and on the field.  Take what the defense gives you, try not to force anything and just go along with that.

Chargers.com: Philip Rivers is going into his 14th season and still breaking records.  What stands out to you at this juncture of his career?

Steichen:His drive is the same as when he was a rookie, to be honest.  I've known him since 2011, so I'm going into my seventh year knowing him.  He's the same guy I met six years ago.  His drive is to be the best every day.  It's like a new year.  He came out the first day of practice and said, "Shoot!  I'm fired up to go today!"  It was the first day of OTAs, but it was like the first day he had ever done it.  That's what makes him great, along with obviously his competitive nature and drive to be the best every day.

Chargers.com:Philip gets so much praise for the way he throws the ball and his accuracy.  But what's something that you think people don't appreciate about Philip Rivers?

Steichen:I think he's one of the best that I have ever seen in the pocket. He may be the best ever at pocket presence.  The way he throws with guys in his face when there's an inch of space, and he'll let the ball go (is unreal).  The way he finds those little windows to the running backs; that's just a feel thing.  It's the side step and the little side arm throw to the back on the check down when you're like, "How the heck did he see that guy?"  That to me is impressive and what makes him an elite quarterback in this league.

Chargers.com:You mentioned those two young quarterbacks in Mike Bercovici and Eli Jenkins. How is Philip in the room with those guys?

Steichen:He's really good.  If those guys ever have questions for him, he's not afraid to share information with them.  He wants the whole group to do well, just like we all do.  He's been great with those young guys.

Chargers.com: Kellen Clemens is back for another year.  What is it about him as the backup that is really valuable not only to you, but for Philip as well?

Steichen:He's just a steady, steady player.  He's so smart and understands the system.  He prepares every day.  He's going into his 12th season, and the guy's preperation is unbelievable.  He's a great competitor.  He and Philip both kind of feed off each other.

Chargers.com:Why did you make the decision to bring back Bercovici?

Steichen: He had a great understanding of the system and he's a smart player.  He made good decisions through training camp and the preseason games for us last year.  There was some stuff there that we really liked.  So we said shoot, let's bring him back and see what he can do this year.

Chargers.com:What is it you want to see him improve upon this year?

Steichen:I think once we get going in the preseason games, just his decision making.  I think he's gotten a lot better with that.  He was steady overall for the preseason last year.  But just the decision making in those tight windows and knowing where to go with the football.  I think he'll do a good job with that.

Chargers.com: Every position brings in new rookies. What was it about Eli Jenkins that caught the team's eye?

Steichen:He was an unbelievable athlete in college.  I think he rushed for about 1,000 yards.  He can run around and make plays.  He can throw it pretty well; he can spin it.  With a guy with that type of athleticism who can run around and create plays, that's exciting to see.  It's different from what we've had, but it's exciting.

Chargers.com:Right now we are looking at three different starters along the offensive line, and only Joe Barksdale back at the same position.  With all those changes, how much work goes on between your group and the offensive line since both work so closely together?

Steichen: We talk a lot. We have group meetings usually on a daily basis. We'll go in there, watch a few things together and clean it all up so everyone is on the same page.   With Whiz coming back and carrying over the offense, it's been really (smooth) .  A lot of guys came back and we've done similar elements which has been good for the offense.

Chargers.com: Some of the most fun during practice is watching your quarterback drills. Every day you have different competitions for the guys during individual period. Where did you get that from? 

Steichen: I told myself I would never stop learning. I'll ask anyone, "Hey, what do you do?  How do you do this?"  Sometimes, I just come up with stuff and I just make it up as I go.  I know the players like competing and throwing into the nets.  So every day, you try to think of something new and keep them interested. 

Chargers.com:How competitive does it get out there?

Steichen:It's been pretty competitive!  The quarterbacks take it pretty seriously, and we joke about it a lot, too.  But it is exciting to see them compete like that.

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