Chargers special teams coordinator Derius Swinton self-admittedly "brings the juice."
Not just to his meetings, but to his pressers, as his zest for his new role was apparent when he met with the media for the first time.
Here are key takeaways from his presser including his coaching philosophy, how he'll evaluate this unit, working with Brandon Staley, and more.
The "Three Fs"
When asked about his coaching philosophy, Swinton says it boils down to the three Fs: fast, physical, and fundamentally sound.
Okay, so he did admit his mom was an English teacher and although one of those doesn't exactly begin with the letter F, while "phonetically correct," the philosophy remains the same.
"When I talk about being fast, it's not everybody has to run a 4.4 [40-yard dash]. It's maximizing whatever you do to the best of your ability and as fast as you are. If you're a 4.7, I want you to play at a 4.7 in every single phase. Physical; it's whatever you do, do it physically. It's a physical sport. Guys use their tools in different ways. That doesn't mean go and blow somebody up. This means to do it with physicality. You see a guy like [Chiefs WR] Tyreek Hill. He plays physically fast. The last thing, just fundamentally sound. You can't do anything without fundamentals. We're going to be based around taking every single day — and I tell the guys from the time we go from training camp in the offseason, to the last week of the Super Bowl, we're going to be doing the same fundamentals every day, and just train those guys to use those things to fit into whatever scheme we build around them."
It's evident from listening to Swinton and all the other coordinators that relationships are going to be at the forefront of what the 2021 Chargers will be built upon.
Swinton has spent 13 years in the league with eight teams and one thing has remained constant, his ability to connect with players.
How does he do this?
It comes down to investing in his players both on and off the field.
"I start my first meeting every year, and I've done this the last probably six years as I've gotten older, I tell them that my job as a coach, and any coach's job, is to make sure that at the end of training camp, they are employed in the NFL. A lot of them look at me crazy, like, 'What are you talking about? I'm here with the Chargers.' Well, we bring in 90 guys, but we can't have 90 on the roster. I think my job is to reach them in a way that whatever it is, tap into whatever makes them go so that they're employed. I think that once they see that you're committed to them as people, and having them employed and providing for their families — and that's beyond football — that's really where I think my connections come with them."
Evaluating the Chargers Special Teams
When asked a couple weeks ago about the state of the Chargers special teams in 2020, general manager Tom Telesco said it might be an easier answer to say what went right because there weren't many things that did.
Telesco also said it's on him to do a better job of getting this coaching staff the players they need to build that group.
So with a new head coach and coordinator on deck for 2021, the evaluation process has begun and Swinton said it'll be collaborative.
"It's a process. We're coming in now. First, you have to evaluate. You have to evaluate, 'Where are we at? What do we do well? What do these guys do well?' From there, we are going to educate each other as a staff of what we're looking for in a special teams player and what we ask certain guys to do in our system. After that, it's to implement our system with the players. I don't believe in looking backward. I think it's a process and you go through that process every day.
"Talking to Tom and Brandon, 'What do we see in this position? What do you need from a third running back who's going to play on offense with [Offensive Coordinator] Joe [Lombardi], or if he's going to be with me?' Same thing with [Defensive Coordinator] Renaldo [Hill]. 'Renaldo, How do you see the fourth corner? How much is he going to play for you? What can he do and what kind of body type does he look like?' You evaluate first, then you educate each other and the players when they come in. Then, you implement your system around what we do well. The cupboard is not empty here. We'll have a good foundation and we'll get it rolling."
On Brandon Staley
Swinton and Staley are reunited at the Bolts after previously working together in 2017 for the Chicago Bears.
Swinton cited Staley as a huge reason the Chargers were the right fit for him and talked about what he remembered from the times they spent in Chicago.
"I'll tell you this, Brandon Staley is one of the few coaches that was in every single special teams meeting. He was in the back. When I was interviewing, I was going through some of my stuff and he was calling it out. I was just like, 'I thought I was interviewing?' He definitely was in it. He was a part of it. I would look at his drills and what he was doing, because some of those outside linebackers were playing on special teams, so just the correlation with that. That's where the relationship was built, that comradery. When a position coach takes the time out to sit in your meeting, as a special teams coach, it shows that it means something not only to him, but to the rest of the team, to the head coach. That's where that relationship started. That's where, I think, it'll keep growing."
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