Shane Steichen delivered his first press conference as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator Thursday, answering many questions about his background, the transition from serving as the team’s quarterbacks coach and his approach to leading the Bolts offense.
“It was pretty wild,” Steichen said. “(I’ve) always wanted to be a coordinator, and then it happened.”
The 34-year-old said he knew he wanted to be an NFL play caller when he was in high school, having played for several impactful coaches beginning then and continuing at UNLV.
“My high school coach was awesome,” Steichen said. “And then I had a couple different coordinators in college, and they were all great...It was kinda like, ‘Shoot, (coaching) is a pretty good deal.’”
Current Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator, Norv Turner, who served as the Chargers’ head coach from 2007-2012, provided a 25-year-old Steichen with his first NFL opportunity in 2011. Steichen calls Turner “a great, great play caller, a "great man” and his biggest coaching influence and says he still talks to his former boss nearly every day.
“(Turner) said, ‘Hey, I got a job for you,’” Steichen said. “‘It’s on defense, though.’ I said, ‘I’ll be there tomorrow.’”
Steichen was an offensive assistant at the University of Louisville at the time and promptly drove across the country to begin his professional coaching career.
“I was fired up,” Steichen said.
The pair finally spoke Thursday morning after playing phone tag for a couple of days, with Turner advising his protégé to “be yourself” and “go let it rip.”
Steichen described the transition to coordinator as “smooth” and said that the preparation aspect did not change this week. The main difference, according to him, has been a dramatic increase in the number of plays he’s had to script and present to his offensive personnel.
He characterized his relationship with head coach Anthony Lynn as “great,” adding that he and Lynn have been in constant communication this week. Steichen said that Lynn has been especially helpful, given his familiarity with Packers offensive coordinator Mike Pettine from the pair’s time together with the Buffalo Bills.
Just as Lynn did Wednesday, the new offensive coordinator emphasized that the play calling will be a collaborative endeavor. Offensive line coach Pat Meyer was named the team’s run coordinator by Lynn Wednesday, and Steichen says the two have been “working great together.” Steichen said that he and Meyer had already been convening each week ahead of the quarterbacks meetings.
“I think that relationship has been good,” Steichen said. “And it’s going to continue to be good.”
Just like the team’s offensive play calling, Steichen said the running game will rely on “a group effort.”
"Offensive line, tight ends, (running) backs,” Steichen said. “Everyone’s gotta be on the same page. All it takes is one big run...and then it starts taking off. You get two or three runs, it’s like, ‘Oh shoot, here we go.’”
In terms of the overall offense Sunday, Steichen said there will be “little tweaks here and there,” but that the structure of the offense will largely remain intact.
“To tweak a whole bunch of stuff (for Sunday against the Packers), it’s gonna be hard,” Steichen said. “We gotta just do what we do and go play.”
Steichen echoed Lynn’s message of simplicity from a day earlier in saying that his priority is doing “whatever we can to do make guys play faster and not think as much.”
He explained his goals for the offense this Sunday in simple terms.
“You gotta get first downs,” Steichen said. “You gotta have a little rhythm mixing run and pass, and be more balanced, as much as we can.”
He said that his close relationship with quarterback Philip Rivers that began in 2011 and their likemindedness has helped ease Steichen’s transition to the offensive coordinator role. Steichen described Rivers as “a phenomenal player (who’s) been doing it for a long time,” adding that the quarterback’s ability to make adjustments at the line “absolutely helps” make his job easier.
“(Rivers’) football IQ has got to be up there with the best, if not the best, of all-time,” Steichen said.
As for the Bolts’ opponent Sunday, Green Bay, the new O.C. has been focusing on several defenders, complimenting cornerbacks Kevin King and Jaire Alexander and inside linebacker Blake Martinez. Steichen also highlighted outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith as “a handful” as edge rushers.
Steichen’s first game as offensive coordinator kicks off Sunday at 1:25 p.m. PT from ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park.