Tue, 09 Mar 2021

Chris Hayre

New Chargers head coach Brandon Staley's introductory press conference on Thursday lasted over 90 minutes.

He hardly needed that long to make an indelible first impression.

The 38-year-old Staley called every reporter by his or her first name when answering their questions. He exuded authenticity when laying out his vision for the franchise.

Staley was earnest in discussing the importance of family and personal connection, while pointing out that he's already reached out to both current and former players - from Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler to Dan Fouts and LaDainian Tomlinson - to start building those relationships.

His command of the Zoom room was evident. But it's not about winning the press conference (though it is worth watching every second of it). Here's more on who Staley is and how he plans to win games in 2021 and beyond:

The Bruce and Linda Staley Coaching Tree

President of Football Operations John Spanos opened the press conference detailing why the Chargers decided on Staley as the 17th head coach in franchise history. Perhaps the most important reason is his ability to teach.

"Coach Staley, he's the son of a teacher, he's the son of a coach," Spanos said. "One of my favorite parts of the first time we sat down with Coach Staley, he says, 'People often ask me what coaching tree I consider myself part of.' This is a guy, he's coached with some great minds in football, right? He coached with Vic Fangio. He's coached with Sean McVay.

"He says when people, when they ask him, 'What coaching tree do you consider yourself a part of?' he tells them, 'I'm part of the Bruce and Linda Staley coaching tree. That's my coaching tree.' And I think that says a lot about Brandon. It says a lot about his character, his values and who he is."

"It's a Sacred Mantle for Somebody to Call You Coach"

Staley started by talking about the importance of family. He thanked those who have helped him along this journey to becoming a head coach and uttered a phrase he said those in the Chargers orbit should get used to: "It's a sacred mantle for somebody to call you Coach."

From All-Pros to those who may not be household names, Staley made a point to acknowledge the players who allowed him to be a coach, adding that "it's the relationships with men like this that last a lifetime."

Finally, before taking questions, Staley shared his vision for the Los Angeles Chargers.

"The foundation for our team will start with relationships," he said. "That will be number one. And the second thing will be competition. Players, coaches, staff, fans - together, we can create something truly special.

"Each and every day, the Chargers need to be on a mission. A mission to create something challenging, competitive (and) impactful where people within our team can become their best."

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Staley was asked throughout the press conference about his overall offensive philosophy, as well as being quarterback Justin Herbert's head coach.

"I think that's what I was so excited about to convey in this process was my offensive vision, because I do consider myself an offensive coach," Staley said. "And I think what's helped me so much on the defensive side of the ball is my offensive background."

Staley praised Herbert for the way he handled his rookie season, especially without an offseason program. He said his vision for the offense will accentuate what Herbert does best as opposed to his second-year quarterback having to adjust to a specific system.

"He's his own person," Staley said of Herbert. "And I think that my background as a player - my background as a defensive coach - I think that we'll be able to shape that in a really special way."

One of the things Staley said he learned from Rams head coach Sean McVay is how he caters to the strengths of his quarterback while also acting as a problem solver for the myriad of challenges a signal caller faces from a defense.

"Jared Goff's a different player than Justin Herbert who's a different player than Pat Mahomes or whomever - Aaron Rodgers, you name it," Staley said. "These guys are all unique players and that's what I talked about with a system. You want to be able to create a system around your quarterback.

"And I think that that's what I've tried to do on defense. Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa, Von Miller - those guys are different players. They really are. They're all special, right? But they're different."

"A Dual Education"

Earlier this week, former NFL linebacker Sam Acho said that Staley taught defense "from a quarterback's vision." Staley sees that as an added benefit to Herbert.

"I want to share all of the knowledge that I have to help Justin hopefully have a dual education. He's going to be getting this amazing education from our offensive coaching staff, but then there's this other education that hopefully I can give him to sort of shape and complete his game as a player."

Staley named six "defensive-minded" coaches that he admired, all Super Bowl winners: Mike Tomlin, Tony Dungy, Pete Carroll, Jimmy Johnson, John Harbaugh and Bill Belichick.

One thing they all have in common: they've coached young quarterbacks, most of which are all-time greats.

"I think that there's something to that," Staley said. "Being able to add to their game and get to see the game just a little bit more completely. And I'm really excited to get started with Justin in that way."

Defensive Talent

Staley has had the opportunity to coach several elite players at each of his three NFL stops: defensive ends Khalil Mack, Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive tackle Aaron Donald the most notable.

With the Chargers, Staley has three foundational pieces on each level of his defense: defensive end Joey Bosa, linebacker Kenneth Murray and safety Derwin James. Here's how he described each one.

On Bosa: "I think Joey's one of the elite outside rushers in the game. This guy's got every tool that you're looking for: size, speed. He's got some of the best hands in the NFL. This guy really knows how to rush. He's a relentless competitor. He's got a motor. What all great rushers have in common and I was just with one of the greatest that has ever played in the National Football League [in Donald] is they've got a motor and they're relentless and I think that really describes Joey. And by the way, this guy is tough."

On James: "Guys, it's hard to stand out in this league. Right? Cause everybody is so amazing, but every now and then you just see a guy that man, he just stands out. And I just saw this guy before the press conference, OK? And I'm just here to tell you, OK? This guy stands out, OK? And just ask my kids because they know all these guys. They've been around some of these players and they know that 33 is just a little bit different than the rest. And so, just so impressed with his versatility. (I) know a lot of his coaches from college, the competitor he is. His future is so bright; can't wait to connect with him and compete."

On Murray: "He's got a lot of versatility as a linebacker. He can run. He can rush. He can cover, and I think that he's got those traits to truly be one of these complete linebackers. And now, what he just needs is the knowledge and experience to really command the game and instinctively play the game at a high level against all these great offenses."

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