Turner: We've Made Improvements

San Diego coach Norv Turner spoke with the Indianapolis media in a conference call earlier this week. Hear from Turner about how the Chargers turned the season around and clinched the AFC West in the final game of the season.

On how they got on such a roll in December:

"I think this, it doesn't just switch over and you then you go from struggling to winning. We played a lot better the second half of the season after the bye and I think we made improvements along the way. We lost a one-point game at Pittsburgh, we lost a three-point game against a pretty good Colt team—obviously they're on a roll—we didn't play as well as we'd like to against Atlanta, we kind of struggled in that football game, and then we did get on a roll. But I saw it happening and moving in the right direction. And obviously our record is an indication. We've lost four or five games on the last play of the game, so it's not like the games where people look and say, ‘They're struggling. They're losing 38-10.' We've just had a tough time finishing off games. We certainly played better, we played some teams that we were very familiar with, we played some teams that weren't as good on defense as some of the teams we've been playing, and I think that all helps."

On QB-Philip Rivers taking the next step:

"I think just continuous maturation and growth that a quarterback goes through. He has not played that much football. He started two years ago and the second half of that year they opened it up a little bit. Last year, getting used to what we're doing, struggled a little bit early, but once we hit the mid-season point, he played exceptionally well and played great in the playoffs last year, obviously, and has just picked it up to another level, making great decisions, doesn't make many mistakes with the ball. We have good people around him. We have a lot of playmakers and he knows how to get them the ball."

On Rivers' intensity:

"He really does, and the best ones, the best guys I've been around, all have that. It's obvious that Peyton (Manning) has it and you see it in Philip. Guys show it in different ways, but the best quarterbacks I've been around, the number one quality you better have is you have to be a great, great competitor and you have to be physically and mentally very tough because they do get hit, they take a beating and obviously every game, every play it seems like ends up, it goes through them."

On Rivers breaking Dan Fouts' record for TD passes:

"Dan, I'm sure when we talk he's going to have a few choice words for me. He's a big fan of Philip's and he's had a chance to be down here and be around him a couple of times. They're similar personalities. I played in college with Dan and have been close friends with him for a long time and they do both let you know what's on their mind."

On WR-Vincent Jackson raising his level of play:

"No question, and I think he played that way in the second half of the season last year also. I think when we got Chris Chambers it was really good for him to even the field a little bit. Vincent's playing with great confidence right now. He's playing as fast as you can play at the size he is. It's really mind-boggling when you think about him being at 238, 240 pounds and he can run the way he can run, and not only that, he can change direction and run the more complex routes. He's really emerged as I think one of the better receivers in the league."

On RB-LaDainian Tomlinson's situation:

"We're getting ready to go into our meetings. We're practicing late today—I wanted to give them some rest having played Sunday night—so I haven't seen L.T. yet this morning. I know he was sore yesterday but was optimistic and felt he's had this type of thing before and felt that by the end of the week he should be ready to play."

On TE-Antonio Gates:

"Gates is feeling pretty good. I know he has the same thing, he's sore, he's had this before. He was down getting treatment this morning and same deal, we'll see how much he's able to do this afternoon."

On if this is a big week for Indiana natives Nick Hardwick and Kris Dielman:

"It's a big week for everyone in the organization, and obviously equally big for Indianapolis. You take a look at (it), we've played three times in the last two seasons and you have three games that are decided by a total of nine points. We obviously know each other and it's a matchup that is very, very, very competitive and it's going to be an exciting game."

On Hardwick and Dielman being from Indiana and if it's special for them:

"I think maybe the first time you do that it is and then you get beyond that and it becomes special because of the meaning of the game. Everyone wants to keep playing, on both teams and everyone who's in the playoffs, they want to keep playing and that's what makes it special and that gives you that real sense of urgency."

On Dielman being a defensive tackle and tight end in college and Hardwick being a former college wrestler and football walk-on, them being guys who have made themselves good players:

"Yes, they're both very, very talented guys. Obviously with Kris, someone had the foresight to say, ‘Hey this guy could be a heck of an offensive linemen.' And someone made a great decision because he certainly has turned into that. He has the attitude, he has that defensive lineman's mentality and he's become an outstanding technician playing guard. I think that wrestling background for Nick, and he's such a good athlete, that center is a perfect position for him."

On stressing the importance of takeaways:

"Everyone's talking about, ‘What's happened in December?' Going into December I think we were minus four or minus two in turnover ratio. In December we've taken the ball away nine times and turned it over once. Obviously the first time we played (Indianapolis on November 23), Philip (Rivers) had the fumble in the red zone going in and that ended up being one of the real big plays in the game. I think both ways, the ability to protect the ball, the ability to create some turnovers in a game like this, as close as these games have been, ends up being key factors. Indianapolis has done such a great job protecting the ball, if you get an opportunity, if a ball is on the ground or if you get your hands on it, you have to make the most of that opportunity."


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