Over the coming weeks, we’ll be checking in with the Chargers’ position coaches and coordinators to get the inside scoop. We kick things off with Quarterbacks Coach Shane Steichen.
Chargers.com: Another year, what’s your overall assessment of the quarterbacks group?
*Steichen: *It’s been good. It’s been a good transition adding Geno Smith to the mix. All those guys are really talented, so the transition there has been pretty smooth.
Chargers.com: What’s this whole process off the offseason like right now? What are you trying to accomplish with your quarterbacks?
Steichen: Right now, you go back to the fundamentals. You’re installing from scratch right now. Day 1 is, ‘Let’s review the formations again.’ Then obviously when you have a new guy like Geno, it’s all new to him. You start from scratch and it’s all about the fundamentals; especially on the practice field going through all the drills and stuff like that. And then it’s really big in the classroom because you have a lot of meeting time right now where you really grind on the little little details. The ins and outs of everything. That part’s been really good and this time is crucial for that.”
Chargers.com: You’ve been here for a while and been with Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt for a while, but Head Coach Anthony Lynn was new last year. How much easier has year two been with everyone together?
Steichen: I think it’s all an adjustment when new people get involved but it’s been smooth. It’s been really good. Obviously, we started to get on a roll there at the end of the year and then going into this offseason, when you’ve been working together for a year, it’s really smooth.
Chargers.com: There’s not much more anyone can say about Philip Rivers. Last year when we chatted, you saw a priority for him was cutting down his interceptions. He did just that by throwing only 10 picks. There’s not much he can improve on after another career year, but what’s your focal point this year?
*Steichen: *I think it’s the same as last year, cutting down on turnovers. I think it still has to be that mindset of maintaining that. It’s a proven fact that when you don’t turn the ball over, you win games, and it showed up last year. Just from his standpoint, nothing’s changed the way he prepares for games and his drive to be as good as he is. That just keeps showing up year in and year out. I think the preparation that he puts into it just continues to show up.
*Chargers.com: What went into the decision to sign Geno Smith? What do you like about his game? *
Steichen: He’s a very talented passer. You just watch him in Phase II and his footwork and the way he throws it; his arm motion, the way the ball comes out, he can spin it pretty good. He just hasn’t played in a while, but his talent is there. You can tell in the meeting rooms, he’s in year six now, and he has that veteran mind. He asks really good questions.
Chargers.com: This is his third system in three years, is this a learning curve for him? How does he best get up to speed?
Steichen: I think for him, mostly it’s just terminology. I think terminology and learning a new langue. It’s like he was learning English with the Giants but learning Spanish here. That’s more so what it is.
*Chargers.com: Is it fair to say they’ll be some stiff competition between Geno and Cardale Jones to be Philip’s primary back up? *
Steichen: Yes. They’re competing right now. Both those guys are competing every day so we’ll see where it goes and how it plays out.
Chargers.com: Cardale Jones obviously came in late last year right before training camp. Where did he grow the most on the practice field, and where do you see him entering his second year with the Chargers?
Steichen: I think he did a good job last year on the scout team. Sometimes during the year, you start rolling and he really took it upon himself in the meetings and on the practice field. He still prepared even though he wasn’t active a lot. He still prepared that way, like he was going to play. It showed up when he was running the scout team; some of the throws he did. He kept improving throughout the year. But this time for him, this is critical. This is his first offseason with us. These OTAs and going into training camp is going to be critical for him.
Chargers.com: There were multiple guys we could have signed as undrafted free agents, but we went with Nic Shimonek. He put up some gaudy numbers last year. What did you like about him that you wanted to give him a chance to come in here and see what he’s got?
Steichen: He looked like a heck of a competitor on tape. The way he threw the football, he could whip it around pretty good on the field. He gave his guys a chance. Obviously, looking at his numbers and the way he performed, he was accurate with the football and had a high touchdown to low interception ratio. When you look at a guy like that, you’ve got a chance.
*Chargers.com: Finally, this is a really busy time for you even when you’re not on the field with the players. Give us some insight into what you’re doing behind the scenes. *
Steichen: Right now we’re just going through and making cutups for meetings. With all the time, you’re self-scouting all that and once you get all your self-scouting done, you make the cutups of teaching progressions and how you want to teach in the classroom.