Turner: 'We want to win a championship'

Monday's excerpts from Norv Turner's introductory news conference as head coach of the San Diego Chargers:

Turner's opening statement:
It goes without saying that I'd like to thank Dean Spanos and A.J. Smith first of all for the opportunity to come in here and interview for the job and to be part of the process. I felt all along that if I had the opportunity to come in and talk to them and talk to them about the plans I had but also the plans we could have together to put this thing together in terms of the staff part of it and a plan for where we want to go as a football team, I thought this could happen if I got that opportunity.

"It was very apparent to me as we talked, the things that developed back in 2001 for me, my relationship with Dean, my relationship with A.J. - I was the offensive coordinator and A.J. was the assistant general manager – but that year was a big year for me in terms of again growing as a coach. It was a big year for the Chargers. The Chargers had the number one pick in the draft. There was a decision to be made. Do you trade the rights or the chance to draft Michael Vick? Do you trade for L.T.? Do you put the deal together to get Drew Brees? That whole process, I was privileged to be part of it. We went out and worked out all the people involved. I remember the conversations that were certainly led by John Butler, but I felt like I was a part of it. A.J. was a big part of it. Obviously everything was being run through Dean. Being involved in that process, I think I had a very good feel that this was something we could do together and make it very positive. The most important thing for me was to put together a plan that said this is an outstanding football team. This is a team that is mostly made up of young football players that are going to grow and get better. How do we make that happen? The plan I had in place in terms of what we needed to do was based on continuity. How do we create that kind of continuity? The offensive system that the Chargers run I installed in 2001. Cam Cameron worked for me for three years in Washington, and he's done a great job with the system. He's done a great job with the players. Certainly those are things I think we can build on. I know when the players come in for that first minicamp, they're going to line up and run the same things they've been doing. The ones that have been here for five years are going to be doing the same things they've been doing for five years.

"In talking to some of the players earlier upstairs, there's certainly a comfort level and a relief in that manner. Offensively, the staff is in place. We want to keep the staff that's here. I think in those areas, we are going to hit the ground running. It's very positive. Obviously we want to create the same environment defensively. That was where my recommendation, my thought process was that Ted Cottrell should be the defensive coordinator. He's worked with Wade Phillips. He's had great success as a defensive coordinator. I'm not going to rattle off a bunch of stats, but they're there to show you what he has accomplished.

"It's funny, four or five of the defensive players came up. Ted and I were visiting. He started making a couple defensive calls. They said, ‘This is the same playbook. It's the same stuff.' We have a plan defensively. We're working on some other things. We plan to keep the coaches that are here, but we have options to add a couple more guys that I think can make a big difference in terms of the direction we want to go.

"It's obvious to me that the expectations for this football team are very, very high. That's obvious to everyone. The conversations I've had with the players that I had an opportunity to talk to today, I think they understand that this team has accomplished a lot. A lot of individuals have accomplished a lot. L.T. sets a touchdown record this year. Merriman continues to lead the league in sacks. Philip Rivers showed he's going to be the quarterback everyone hoped he would or whatever, but everyone I talked to today had the central them: we want to win a championship. We want to do whatever it takes to win a championship. That's the message that I got from Dean. That's the message I got from A.J. That's the reason Ted was in a hurry to get here. We've been talking about it since I got an opportunity to interview. If this happens, it could be a heck of a deal for all of us. That's the process we've been through. I couldn't be more excited about being the coach here, being a part of this organization. It got me going this morning. The number of players that came in this morning and had true excitement about what this team can do, where it can go, it was a very special moment for me this morning. I'm excited to be here".

When did you find out that you got the job?
Turner:
We finished the process late last night. There are some things we're continuing to finalize. Obviously I was elated. I was excited. I think there was an excitement obviously about this and then there's also an understanding that there's a responsibility with this. Both things, I think they hit you together.

How different will you be as a head coach now based on your experiences in Washington and Oakland?
Turner:
The one thing I say is that every situation you go into is totally unique. The two other jobs I had when I went into them, they were either last or second to last on offense and defense. You know when you're in that situation you can't focus on one side of the ball. You've got to get better on both sides of the ball. Both of those teams were predominately made up of older, veteran players. This is a complete opposite circumstance. This is a very young team that's near the top on both sides of the ball. I think to answer your questions, every experience I've had is going to help me through this. I think the experiences I had, they let you understand that this league, how competitive it is and you need every edge you can have. That's to me the excitement about being here. I think in all areas, everyone is doing everything they can to make sure this thing works.

Have you made any decisions about your staff?
Turner:
The coaches that are under contract we're going to keep and we're going to move forward to extend the ones we can.

Who is going to call the plays?
Turner:
I'm going to call the plays. It's interesting when people ask that question. The way this thing has come about now in the game planning and the details of it and the number of plays that the quarterback calls at the line of scrimmage, I really believe that the plan is put together by a group of guys. I think Clarence Shelmon's experiences here give him a great opportunity to contribute and be a big part of what we do on Sundays. Ultimately somebody has to make a final decision on 3rd-and-3. I'll be the guy making that decision.

With your experience with quarterbacks, what do you think you can provide Philip Rivers?
Turner:
I think when people talk about that in my background, they tend to talk about quarterback, but the thing that I take the most pride in is the development of young players, whether it be the quarterback, a running back, whether it be a tight end or wide receiver. I can go back through every stop I've had and the willingness to play young players, a lot of guys get nervous about that, but the willingness to play them and watch them grow as players. Then to watch them develop. I believe there are a number of guys on this team…you really have a chance to get to your best after three or four years. Then I think you put the whole thing together. There are some guys that played so well in year two and three, it's going to be a challenge to see how much better they can get, but they will. You grow, and I believe in this league you grow through having continuity. That's what we're trying to develop. There's no secret. You watch Indianapolis. You watch Peyton Manning and you watch him play in the same offense for nine years, the same offensive coordinator for nine years. It makes a difference.

You game planned against the Chargers a couple of times. What did you like about them from that perspective?
Turner:
I think every team has strengths and weaknesses. They do change a little bit during the season. The one thing certainly with this defensive football team, you have to be able to handle the front. You have to be able to protect, and that's easier said than done. I think one of the areas we've talked about and one of the areas we're going to continue to grow and improve is saying, ‘We're really good up front. We can put pressure on the quarterback. We can create havoc for the quarterback. Now we have to continue to grow in the secondary.' It may not be the entire secondary. It may be a situation. Maybe it's third and long. Maybe it's those certain situations in the red zone or two minute, those type of things where we have to look and say as a staff, and obviously Ted will be doing that from the defensive side of the ball, where can we get an edge? Where can we get a little better?

If any of your assistants want to leave, will you allow them to leave?
Turner:
That's the question I think everyone is going to want to ask. In this league now, this thing has changed. I've been in the league 22 years. You used to protect two, then you did this. There were so many phony type movements the league put into place a rule that says if you're under contract, you're going to keep your coaches. The coaches under contract, we're going to keep them here.

How unique is this situation with a new head coach taking over a 14-2 team?
Turner:
I would have to go back in terms of my history and understanding of that. I probably have some thoughts about that, but to me it's in the past. I was certainly not involved in it and my preference is to look to the future with where we are going.

What attracted you most to this job?
Turner:
I think when you're interested in a situation, there's more than one thing. Certainly the fact that I've been here and whether it be a relationship with a guy like L.T., my relationship with Dean and A.J., those things are the day-to-day working relationships that you're going to have that you want to be positive and feel good about in a job. The number one thing that attracted me and attracted Ted, that would attract anyone to this is that this is an outstanding football team. It's a young football team. I can tell you this, as excited as I was yesterday about this, I'm more excited today after having a chance to stand upstairs and talk to the guys and know what they're thinking about and what they want to get done. It's fun because three or four of the linemen were in there and I started calling protections. They're nervous. They don't want change. They want continuity. I started rattling off the protections and they say, ‘It's the same playbook. Everything is the same. This is going to be easy.' They kind of headed out feeling a little better about where we're headed. The players have the chance to win a championship. That's what attracted me to this job.

How was this interview different than your interview with the Cowboys a couple weeks ago considering your relationship with Jerry Jones?
Turner:
If I answered that, I'd get in trouble in a humorous way. I have a great relationship with Jerry, too. I'd say I got to talk a lot more in this interview than I did down there. I shouldn't say that. Now I am in trouble. This interview process was as comprehensive as I've ever been through. Because of our relationship and because of our knowing one another, it wasn't as structured and, ‘Okay, on the third day of May tell us what you're going to do and tell us this.' Those things, I think we have a pretty good feel for that. In terms of the detail of running a football team, the detail of putting together a staff, the things we wanted to do from an offensive, defensive and special teams standpoint going through everything you can name in terms of staff and support group, it was very thorough.

What would you tell people in terms of why you would be the right guy to take over this team?
Turner:
We're all human. You want a positive fan reaction. The reaction that I cared about the most and the reaction that I got that I got excited about was the reaction I got upstairs this morning from the people that we're going to go win with. I do know this: winning takes care of those situations and those reactions. We know what we have to do. Obviously in this league the first goal is you have to go get in the playoffs. That's the number one thing you have to accomplish. It's been proven over the last two or three years, you get in the playoffs, you have a chance of going and winning the whole thing. Pittsburgh did it as a wild card. Obviously Indianapolis did it last year. There's going to be people who are excited and like it. There's going to be people that say, ‘Why'd they do that?' We're not going to change that until we get a chance to go start playing games.


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