Over the coming weeks, we’ll be checking in with the Chargers’ position coaches and coordinators to get the inside scoop. We continue with WR Coach Phil McGeoghan.
Chargers.com: Obviously, this is your first year as wide receivers coach for the Chargers. How did the offseason program go for you and your unit?
McGeoghan: It went really well. I focused on getting a good grasp of the scheme with the guys, and learn what they do well. I wanted to learn the areas we need to improve at as an offense. We’ve done a good job of working our fundamentals and techniques. Being better at the top of our routes and releasing at the line of scrimmage. Route running mechanics. All the different things that go into being a complete receiver. The guys made tremendous strides.
Chargers.com: What’s the biggest adjustment for you getting to know these guys, and vice-versa?
McGeoghan: Any time you’re new with somebody, you have to get to know them and they have to trust you. They have to believe that you can help them become better football players, obviously, but also, better people. To hold them to a high standard and be demanding. But, be understanding. Help them with things besides football all the time. I think it’s just trying to get the speed of trust up to a point where you can be very open and honest with them, and they understand it’s coming from a good place of teaching and trying to help them improve. That was the most important thing. Getting that foundation sent.
Chargers.com: That being said, what’s impressed you most about this group as a whole?
McGeoghan: Their work ethic is very strong. Their ability, and want to improve is very high. Really, the character of the guys, the communication and the respect; these are good people. And that’s not something I take for granted. That isn’t always the case, and I’m really proud of that. Especially the veterans. The way they carry themselves and the respect they have for the game is impressive. It’s been a really positive experience so far.
Chargers.com: I want to talk about those veterans today, and next time we’ll dive into the younger players. Obviously, we’ve got to start with Keenan Allen! Last year he authored the single best season by a wideout in Chargers history. You saw from afar how great Keenan is, but what about him did you not know before spending time with him this offseason that has really impressed you?
McGeoghan: Well, he’s an impressive young man, for sure. I think that his intelligence is something that you can’t really understand until you’re in that meeting room with him. Getting to ask him some questions and what he sees on specific plays, it’s impressive. This year, he wants to be a more physical receiver. I’ve been fortunate to be around some really physical players that really improved their game because of their courage and their toughness. He came to me and said that’s the number one thing he wants to do. He wants to work on a few areas of his game, which is really refreshing to hear coming from a guy who has had all the statistical accolades that he has had. To say he wants to do more of the little things, it’s like an all-star basketball player saying he wants to get better on defense. It was just a really encouraging conversation that I had with him, and put into perspective the type of football character he possesses. I’m excited about him. That’s obviously something a coach really likes to hear.
Relive the top moments of Keenan Allen's record-setting season.
Chargers.com: In Tyrell Williams, you have a young playmaker who already has a 1,000-yard season under his belt. He’s tall with great speed. What does he really need to do to take that next step?
McGeoghan: He’s done some of the things this offseason in order to take that next step. We study a lot of coverage recognition, so we can anticipate what the defense may do. What their menu of (coverages) may be when they are leveraged (a certain) way. Looking at a defensive back’s alignment, whether it’s a nickel or a corner. Safety rotation. Slowing the game down (for him) because when you become a more experienced player, it’s not only about beating the defender right in front of you. I think you have to expand your horizons a little bit, and the game starts to slow down. That’s something he’s worked on, because he’s an intelligent player, too. So that was one thing that he wanted to do. He explained that to me in April, and we’ve had a little bit of a course curriculum on how to do these things. He stayed very consistent with that. He really studied, eliminated distractions and (focused on) really understanding what he has to do to be a great receiver on a consistent basis. He’s been very consistent with that. He’s a first-class guy.
Chargers.com: Have you ever been around a guy as fast as Travis Benjamin?
McGeoghan: There have been a couple guys who were fast, like Mike Wallace. But I would say Travis has been the fastest guy that I have ever had. He is fast. I mean really fast. It’s been great to really work with him and talk about things he wanted to improve in his game. Like route running. Just little details. He’s developing into a real leader. He’s tremendous in the room. We always talk about how you either bring something to the room, or you’re taking away from it. And he’s brought something to the room every day. He’s very consistent. He’s been a great asset, and I just really enjoy coaching him.
Chargers.com: All eyes are obviously on Mike Williams. Last year didn’t go as planned for the seventh overall pick, but he’s healthy now. What have you seen from Mike?
McGeoghan: This is a big year for Mike. Obviously, everyone evaluated him at the Combine when he was coming out. He was an unbelievable talent. I tell all the young guys that the biggest year in their whole career is between their first and second year. That first year, you’re just a rookie. You’re just trying to figure out where your locker is, what the day is like and how to take care of your body. As you become a second-year player, you start to get into a routine. You develop your habits. You get a better idea of all that. Now Mike, obviously I didn’t know him as a person, but he’s been just phenomenal in our room. What’s great is that everybody in our room feels a sense of responsibility to help him improve. The veterans even mentioned when we first met, and I’m talking about individually, all of them said one of their goals was to help Mike and get him up and running. I’ve spent a ton of time with Mike, football and non-football related, getting to know him because it’s very hard to do this job, and be really hard on somebody, if you don’t have a relationship with him. But he’s been great, and I really enjoy being around him.
Chargers.com: When Mike Williams is going full speed, what does he bring to the table?
McGeoghan: Oh, he is a big-bodied guy with a huge catch radius. Very strong hands. Some of the biggest hands I’ve ever had as a position coach. Just a really dynamic red zone threat. He’s tough, too. He has an edge to him. He’s very strong. He’s working really hard, and I’m excited about this guy.
Chargers.com: The last veteran I want to talk about is Geremy Davis. He’s one of the hardest working guys on this team, but is overlooked compared to the guys we just talked about. What do you like about Geremy?
McGeoghan: He brings a lot to the table. He’s a very intelligent player, and another guy who is big, physical, strong and tough. He does a lot of things, and he has high character and high intelligence. So, for someone to beat Geremy out (for a roster spot), you’re going to have to know your stuff and play at a high level of football. I’m excited to see how this all unfolds.