Peter King:We’re in Napa California, site of the Oakland Raiders training camp, and if you look around, I'm here with Khalil Mack, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Khalil, every time I come here, I look at the sky and there are no clouds here. This is not Buffalo, this is not Fort Pierce, Florida, this is a perfect sky. What's it like to come here every year for the summer and train in these circumstances?
Khalil Mack: I mean when you think about being in Napa Valley, you think about wine and a good time, but when we come here it’s grind season for us. We got clear skies and great weather, but we’re coming out here to work hard.
PK: Yeah. So last year was your third year in the NFL, 2016, and you edge Von Miller for Defensive Player of the Year. Obviously the year ended in kind of a disappointing way for you guys, the playoffs, but I want to know what you thought when you heard that you were the Defensive Player of the Year in the NFL?
KM: Hey man, there was a whole lot of thoughts that crossed my mind, but one was I couldn't believe it for the most part. When you think about all the great players that you brought up.
PK: Lawrence Taylor won that award.
KM: Thinking about the fact that your franchise hasn’t had a player that’s won that award in thirty-plus years is kinda surreal.
PK: When I look at your game, you had a sack last year and I think it was against Buffalo, I don't know who it was, where you ran around the right tackle and you slowed up almost to the point of stopping. He stopped and then you ran and sacked the quarterback and I said to myself, that's like a 10-year vet move, and you're not all that deeply experienced in football. You're still a pup because you started kinda late and then you go to Buffalo in the MAC and then you end up here, so I said to myself, where do you learn all the things that you learn and how do you learn them so fast?
KM: I love watching film. I love watching great pass rushers, everybody who's done it before me and done it well. When you talk about just learning and getting experience and being around guys like Justin Tuck and Antonio Smith and the way they watch film and don't just watch themselves but watching everybody else, it was a light switch that went off and was like, Ok, well I can do that too. I’ve been doing it ever since and it's helped me a lot.
PK: Are you the type of person who in the offseason might take on a project? You might be watching a specific player or watching yourself trying to improve? Tell me what your offseason film/tape work is like.
KM: No doubt, it’s just watching what I do. Watching my tendencies and talking to the offense about the way I line up. What did I see and do I have a tendency? I don't want to have any tendencies first off. I ask my tackles, Donald Penn and the other guys, even the guards, Lee Smith, all the guys I work with. And then I also look to turn on the film and see if it's true, based on run and pass, if I’m lining up a different way. Just all the different things that'll help me throughout the next season.
PK: Khalil, I was with Von Miller the other day in Denver and he said a lot of good things about you. One of the things I found really interesting is he has this sort of pass rush day in California and I said to him, wait a second, you have all these guys around the NFL that come to your pass rush summit, why do you want to help Khalil Mack, he’s trying to to kill your team, you're in the same division? He said, “I want to help football, I want football to be better. He might teach me something, I might teach him something.” So first of all, tell me what you thought when he invited you to be with these 20 or 25 pass rushers from around the NFL at Stanford one day in June to have a little pass rush summit.
KM: First off, I really didn’t know if it was a pass rush summit for us or for a group of highschool or college kids.
PK: So why did you go?
KM: So I went to support that, you know what I’m saying, and when I got there I was like, where are all the kids at? But it was just us. Luckily I had my cleats in the trunk, because I thought I was coming out here just to teach, you know? But the way he broke it down he wanted us to all come learn from each other and I thought it was pretty cool. He was like, the guys in the NBA do it all the time, why can’t we do it? And as pass rushers it's hard out here in these streets, doing pass rushing and all these different things, getting double-teamed all the time. It only makes sense for us to come together and learn from one another.
PK: How many people did you know? Cliff Avril, Vic Beasley, do you know many of those guys?
KM: No, I don’t know many of them at all to be honest. I’ve met Von a few times and I’ve played against him in the league but all the other guys who were there, I didn’t know any of them to be real with you. But I got to know them when I was there. It was a good time.
PK: What do you think you learned that day both on the field and in the film room?
KM: Oh yeah, well film, that’s the biggest part I took away from it, man. When you think about being in the film room with Demarcus Ware it was like, okay, you sure you want to tell me these things? It was fun though, seeing the way he broke down the game made it that much easier for me and I enjoyed that process very much.
PK: One of the things he said was that he just wanted to hear from a lot of players about tendencies and about how, just like you were saying before, you want to make sure that you can’t be figured out.
PK: Ok, so how much of your game really is that? You talk about that, but to the average fan out there, why is it important that the right tackle doesn't know exactly what you're gonna do?
KM: I mean it’s very important. When you think about a certain move that you love to use, if you are too tight when you use it every time they're gonna pick up on it, and if you use that move every time you line up tight, then they know when that move is coming, you know what I’m saying? A good offensive lineman is gonna figure out that tendency very quickly, depending on the down and depending on whether it's pass or run. All that stuff is important, so it’s important for you not to give up too many of those tendencies.
PK: What have you worked on this offseason to make your game better? Is it a specific move or just knowledge?
KM: It’s a combination of both, moves and knowledge. Going to a summer camp with all those pass rushers you learn different moves and things you weren't even thinking about, and there are a couple moves I learned there, but also a lot of knowledge I gained from those guys as well. And not only that, but also from myself, knowing what I can get better at.
PK: Do you think that being a pass rusher is 20 or 30 or 40 percent mental where you know what you want to do but you want to make sure that the tackle doesn’t know?
KM: No, I think it’s probably about 10 percent mental when you think about it. Being a pass rusher is 90 percent effort, getting off on the ball, and just knowing that you gotta beat this dude in front of you no matter what. It’s sheer will to beat the guy in front of you and if it happens to be two guys, beating two of ‘em, and if it happens to be threes guys, beating three of ‘em. It’s that kind of physical nastiness that you have to have as a pass rusher.
PK: Has your early success in the NFL surprised you at all? 30 sacks in your first three years, that’s a lot.
KM: I feel like it's not, that's my mindset. I’m not even really thinking about being successful, I’m thinking about coming out here for my team and trying to give my all.
PK: In other words, you don’t say, I got 30 sacks the first two years, that’s pretty good.
KM: Not at all, not at all. That’s not even close to my mindset, my mindset would be more of, Can I get thirty this year? And that's the goal man. You always want to set goals for yourself and thrive, and then when you fulfill them you can lay back and be like, I did that. But at the same time it's a mindset of saying I can do better than that, and when you lose that it’s time to hang it up man. Once you lose that hunger it’s time to hang it up and I don’t ever want to lose that, I always want to be there.
PK: Do you think it's going to be different for you this year after winning the Defensive Player of the Year? It’s not like anybody didn’t think you were really good before but now you are every tackle’s biggest day, so you’re gonna get chipped more probably. What, do you think that’s going to be like for you?
KM: Oh man, it’s a challenge. I love it. Like I told you before, whether it's one guy or two, a chip, you gotta make it worthwhile and do whatever you can to get to that quarterback. That’s always been my mindset. Even if I didn't know what I was doing I was gonna make sure I did whatever I could to get to the quarterback and that’s always gonna be part of me.
PK: I was talking to one of your teammates before and they said they are impressed that you continue to seek excellence, that you're not happy with where you are right now. So where does that part of your personality come from? When you were growing up, where did you learn that?
KM: I learned that from my father and my mother, just being disciplined throughout my whole life. Knowing that it's not what happens to you, but how you handle it. Even with success you gotta dig deep and keep grinding. Even when there are hard times, you gotta dig deep and keep grinding and pray, and keep focused on what it is that you want to ultimately end up doing and for me, I know for sure that I want to be one of the best to ever play.
PK: You want to wear a gold jacket in Canton one day?
KM: Why not? Why not want to do that, that's what the best do. Not only that, you want to win the Super Bowl, and that's all I want to do, to be able to put my team in a position to win a Super Bowl. That's what you see every time you watch me, I'm trying to do everything I can to help my team, and I'm sure everybody feels the way I do on this team and that's ultimately what you want from a team. You want everybody focused on one thing and striving to achieve one goal, and that's it.
PK: Finishing up with Khalil Mack, so last year we also spoke a little bit about this before we started. You graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in the first week of the season. Little Khalil Mack from Fort Pierce, Florida, University of Buffalo, Mid-American Conference, is on the cover of Sports Illustrated wearing The MMQB t-shirt, and just sort of busting out, and I wondered, how did you feel seeing yourself on the cover, and how many times did you have to sign it?
KM: Of course I was overjoyed, God is so good. Like you said, Fort Pierce, Florida. Everybody was hype when they would be in Walmart or K-Mart or whatever and they would see me on the cover of a Sports Illustrated magazine, it was surreal man. And you talk about signing it. I had to kind of shy away from signing them. I feel like my dad went and got 50, he went to probably five different stores to get 50 of ‘em and I was like, Okay, this is how it's gonna be. I didn’t know it was gonna be like this.
PK: He’s your father, you have to sign!
KM: I know, exactly, and then you got everybody else. I have no idea how many I signed. Probably over a thousand of them, easily.
PK: Well, you’ll probably be on the cover a few more times in your life. It’s really been good to get to know you a little bit because in my job one of the things I really like about the people who I cover and write about is I appreciate the guys who it's really important to, who want to be great, who are not just here for a paycheck or anything else. In my conversations with you, greatness is really important to you.
KM: No doubt about it. Always has been, always will be.
PK: I’m here in Denver with Broncos head coach Vance Joseph. We’re here in his office and the one thing that sort of impresses you when you talk a little bit to Vance Joseph is the thoughtfulness, the care that he’s taken. We spent some time this morning talking about how he prepared his first speech to his team, the resource material he used and all that. Vance, I want to start off by asking you about your influences and how you got to this point. I think a lot of people don't really know who Vance Joseph is, so give me a little resume look at what has made you a head coach in the NFL right now.
VJ: Well, I played for the great Bill McCartney at Colorado up in Boulder and Coach Mac was a guy of great integrity and character. He was a truth teller. I mean he was so honest with us that sometimes it was almost a joke or funny, but looking back on it we kind of enjoyed it. We enjoyed the transparency he led us with and that's important. Players want to know where they stand every day and Coach Mac would coach us that way. When you’re a young 18-year-old guy you have no clue why he's doing it, but looking back on it it was awesome and I appreciated it. Being around Mike Nolan, that was the first NFL guy I was around and…
PK: In San Francisco.
VJ: In San Francisco, on his staff, absolutely. Mike kinda was my guideline to being an NFL coach. I had no clue. I was a college coach, and when you're a college coach coming into the NFL, you have no clue what it looks like because everyone pays their players, everyone coaches effort, so everyone leaves camp feeling good and then on Sundays you find out you're not that good. So working in San Fran with Mike kinda taught me that, hey man, you have no idea what other teams are doing, so you have to continually get better, research, keep your guys sharp, keep your guys improving because you have no idea what other teams are doing and so you show up on Sundays and you’ve had a great week and you get blown out of the water. That’s hard. So, it's a hard league. Being around Mike Singletary a couple years in San Fran was also interesting because Mike is a great leader of men, Mike can move a room, and you know guys would run through the wall for Mike. Mike was a great motivational speaker and being the head coach, I think having that talent is important. You have to be a guy that can push guys and motivate guys and get guys to go places that they don't want to go. So Mike was really good at that, and leaving San Fran and getting with Gary Kubiak, Gary was a huge influence…
PK: In Houston.
VJ: In Houston. A huge influence on my coaching career because Gary was the same guy every day, he was about work. He was even-keeled, through the good times and the adverse times Gary was the same guy. And the players and coaches appreciated that. You didn’t walk into a hornets nest after a loss, and it wasn’t Christmas after a win and that's important. Leaving Gary, going to Cincinnati with Marvin Lewis, which was a treat for me. Obviously Marvin’s been there now 15 seasons and he is the model of longevity in this league. And you watch Marvin operate, it was with an old school manner. It was about work, doing things right, respect. It was almost like being back in highschool again. It was the ABC’s of football: Scouting, game planning, because our staff in Cincy…
PK: You did it all.
VJ: We did it all. And in my opinion, going to Cincy and being around Marvin and Mr. Brown and having a chance to evaluate the draft and to pick your players in the draft and to be around coach Zim’s system, it made me a better coach. That was awesome.
PK: I want to interrupt you and ask you this, because a lot of people over the years have killed the Bengals, saying, hey, the scouts should be the scouts and the coaches should be the coaches, and everything like that. But, I’ve found over the years, like Paul Alexander says, “I want to scout the guys that I’m gonna have on the offensive line.” So tell me about that and even though it probably creates another layer of work when all you want to do is take a couple weeks off after the season, tell me, how is that?
VJ: I tell you what, it’s great for young coaches. If every young coach could work in Cincinnati, it would make you a better coach because you are directly responsible for your position. You go out after the combine and you work out guys and you have lunch with guys, dinner with guys, you meet with guys, and you bring the info back to Mr. Brown, and on draft day, if we’re taking a corner he would look at me and say, “Hey VJ, which corner do you want? And tell me why.” And the one you told him you wanted, he would give you. So, in my opinion that made you be very detailed in your job. Travelling the country, making your own schedule, seeing the guys, it made me a better coach. Having the ability to pick the right players for me, and you watch the Bengals drafts, over the years they rarely missed because the coaches were directly involved and he allowed you to pick your players. So that place in my opinion made me a better coach.
PK: What about Miami?
VJ: Miami was great. Being with Adam Gase and going into a place that had great tradition but hadn't been in the playoffs in a long time, our first goal was kind of to change the culture from a losing culture to a winning culture. It was a team of talented players so we knew we could win but we knew it was going to be a hard road because culture is critical in this league. You're going to have adversity and it's critical how you react. And it struck early. I mean we were 1-4 early and we worked our way back and won nine straight games. Kudos to Adam Gase, the process never changed, we never panicked, we stayed with it. Even through the hard times in Miami the players were in good spirits and the coaches were in good spirits. Everyone loved to come to work, so when it was broken we were all there to fix it, and that's important. Players, coaches, management with Mike Tannenbaum. No one ever panicked, no one ever pointed fingers. We knew we had players to win, but we didn't know when it was going to happen, so we’re 1-4 and Pittsburgh is coming to town, and you’re thinking, okay, 1- 5, but we beat Pittsburgh and won nine straight. That was a lesson of trusting the process and having a culture of service and guys loving to come to work, because we didn't have a bad day in Miami last year. It was fun because guys loved to come to work.
PK: So, you get this job and I’ve always thought it is very interesting when coaches transition from either position coaches or even coordinators to being a head coach and all the different things you have to take on in the head coach’s office. Specifically, I wonder, you could be able, even as a defensive coordinator, to have some sense of anonymity? You probably could go out in Miami or Fort Lauderdale and have a nice dinner, you go the whole night and nobody has any idea of who you are. And so you come to Denver, where the Broncos are close to a religion, and you're very familiar with it, having gone to school here, you know Colorado very well, you know what the Broncos mean. You walk down the hall and there's John Elway. I just wonder when you look at it now, how do you describe the difference and the unending attention there is when you're a head coach, specifically the head coach of this team?
VJ: It's definitely different. You said it, in Miami I could go out and have dinner with the wife and family and no one would notice. From time to time someone would notice but here in Denver the Broncos are so huge that when I'm out with the family someone notices every time and it can be a good and bad thing. It's great because we have great fan support out here in Bronco country, it's been sold out here for like 42 years straight. That's good because they expect to win and they're gonna support the team and that stadium is gonna be sold out September 11th vs. the Chargers so that's a good thing. When it comes to family though, you want some down time from time to time. So for me, I’m ok with it, it's part of the job. I signed up for it. But your family sometimes get frustrated. My son will ask, Dad, who’s that? and I have to say, that’s just a fan, son. My wife’s like, Okay, I just want a little private time. It's definitely different especially here in Denver because it's a big deal here, but you know, I've embraced that, and I'm okay with the fans saying hi and taking pictures. It's five or ten seconds and it goes away. So it's definitely different but it hasn’t been overwhelming.
PK: I’ve watched a lot of people over the years try to deal with that aspect of this life. I watched Larry Fitzgerald recently on a golf course and for Larry, he’s a golf addict, and what's so interesting is that even though Larry wanted to play 18 holes of golf and he wanted not to be Larry Fitzgerald, he just couldn’t be. It’s impossible. I would say 12 to 15 times over the course of 18 holes in four hours somebody would come up and walk across the fairway and ask for a picture, and he would do it. And the amazing thing is at the end of it I just mentioned it to him and he said, “That's just the way it is.” And I’ve seen other guys who say, can you please leave me alone? But when you're in this job I think that part of the job is that you have to be always on to some degree, and you just can’t avoid that part of it.
VJ: You can’t, and how do you say no to a fan who wants to say hi to ya, wants a picture with ya? The part about being on all the time, that's different because now I'm aware of like, if I'm going to the store, what I'm wearing. If I'm wearing this t-shirt or this hat or my flip-flops. You kind of think twice about what you're wearing leaving the house now. Years ago I wouldn’t care, I would go out with my t-shirt and my flip flops and my hat turned to the back, relaxing. Now I’m kind of aware of what I’m wearing. You don’t want certain perceptions to be out there about who you are and that's just a reality of it.
PK: So I want to ask you about being a head coach especially in a division where you've got some very interesting challenges. If you look at Kansas City you’ve got Andy Reid, who’s been a head coach for almost two decades. You look at Jack Del Rio, long time coordinator, long time head coach. You look at San Diego and even though Anthony Lynn is a rookie, Phillip Rivers has been there for 100 years, and Ken Whisenhunt and everything. So I just wonder, you're in a pretty formidable division. Every one of those games, you can look at the Chargers and say they're no good. But the Chargers have Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, and they've got Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen. Theyre gonna beat somebody 30-3 this year, maybe a few teams. But anyway, tell me how you look at your division, particularly the challenges you face in some of the people you’ve been watching do this for a long time.
VJ: Absolutely. It’s definitely a tough division. All four teams are capable of making the playoffs. You said it with Philip Rivers, every game he plays he can win. Sometimes we forget how good he is and what he’s done there. When you play Philip Rivers, it's like playing Tom Brady and Matt Ryan and Peyton, all those guys. He’s a great quarterback who you're not going to confuse with scheme. You’ve got to go out and beat Philip because mentally he’s going to be on par. In KC with Andy Reid, he’s always had sound, tough football teams. They’re always going to be a tough out, they won't beat themselves. They do things right and they're always going to have a good scheme on Sunday. Down in Oakland that's an explosive young team on both sides of the ball with that quarterback and those two wide receivers, and Khalil Mack who is comparable to Von Miller in this league, as one and two, along with Watt, who I was with in Houston. So it's a tough division obviously with Andy’s experience and Jack’s experience. That makes it tough for me as a first time head coach, but when I was hired my first priority was to acquire the best staff I could and I knew as a young head coach I wanted to go out and get guys with experience and guys who've won games in this league. So my first call offensively was Mike McCoy. I knew having Mike was gonna be a big deal, because Mike knew how to win. He was here before so he understood the culture of the Broncos and had coached a lot of young quarterbacks. Then we fell into Bill Musgrave, that was lucky there. A guy again who’s coached young quarterbacks and who was calling plays for Oakland in the playoffs. Geep Chryst, Jeff Davidson, who was an OC in this league in Minnesota. Studesville and Tyke Tolbert.
PK: You’ve really got a veteran staff.
VJ: Absolutely. And I wanted a veteran staff. I didn't want to be a young coach who went out and hired a bunch of young guys because I was comfortable leading young guys. I wanted the best guys I could find, and I wasn’t worried about my age vs. those guys age. I wanted the best guys I could find.
PK: Speaking of your staff, when I saw Mike Tomlin at the league meetings this year and we were just talking, and he brought it up, he said, “I’m really happy for Joe Davis,” and how finally he’s gonna get his shot to be a coordinator. He said he is gonna be a head coach in this league, so give me your view on how you chose your defensive coordinator.
VJ: Well, I’ve known Joe for a long time, through Mike Tomlin and Raheem Morris and all those guys, so when three years ago I interviewed for this job and I was gonna be Gary Kubiak’s defensive coordinator, I called Joe who was in Oakland to come be my defensive backs coach. So I was going through contract things there with Cincinatti vs. Denver, and I had coach Kubiak basically hire Joe before I got here because I knew he was a special defensive backs coach. I worked with Reggie Herring in Houston and Bill Kollar in Houston so those guys were already here coming with Kub. But when the job was offered to me I knew Wade was a free agent and I knew Wade wanted to make some moves and maybe go to L.A. with Sean so I knew that and Joe was the obvious candidate. Because in this league, it's a pass driven league, and to have a guy who understands the back end, who's coached a secondary that's been top in the league for the last two years. To have a guy that’s had defensive backs, secondary coverage knowledge because that's where it starts in my opinion now. To call plays in this league you have to understand how to put the concepts that are hurting you to rest, and I knew Joe had that ability. Plus he's coached a back in here who was the heart and soul of this defense, Aquib Talib and Chris Harris and those guys, and T.J. Ward and Darren Stewart. They’ve all been to the Pro Bowl one time under Joe, so the respect portion, that was already established with these guys. From a knowledge perspective he's a sharp guy and he was already here. And I knew Reggie Herring, like a Musgrave and a Geep Chryst and a Kollar, would support Joe being a first time coordinator. Having those guys behind him, he can’t lose.
PK: The last thing I wanted to ask you is a little bit about Von MIller. Von Miller strikes me as kind of a fun guy to have around, but I don't know very much about his seriousness of purpose or whether he's much of a student of football. In your exposure right now to Von Miller, tell me what your impression of him has been so far and why do you think he's as good as he is.
VJ: Well, being around Von the last couple of months, my first take would be that he's a worker. He works at it, lifting, running, certain movement stuff with his body. He loves being Von Miller. He loves being the best player in the league and that's where I go back to having some selfishness as opposed to selflessness. He wants to be Von Miller and him being the best Von Miller he can be helps us to win. So he works at it, his football IQ is very, very high. He has a lot of tackles he goes against, and he’s gonna have somebody down pat on gameday. So he's not going out there just playing with speed and power, he’s playing with his brain. Von is a great leader, he's a funny guy naturally, and his teammates love to follow him. Because even though he's having a good time, it’s work, it’s consistent action. You see him on the field yesterday, he’s dancing around, having fun with fans but he’s rushing the passer, chasing the ball, doing football things. So I think Von likes the spotlight, and most great players like that and want to have a good time doing it. He’s in his comfort zone and he’s being himself and he’s a loose, funny guy. But off the field he puts the work in and wants to be a leader of this team, and obviously being with DeMarcus Ware the last couple of years and following his lead, he’s learned how to be a great pro even more with DeMarcus and he wants to be the leader of this football team.
PK: Rightfully so, everyone brings up the 2017 Broncos and talks about the quarterback. The quarterback is gonna have to play well and I get it. But in my opinion in this division, unless you protect the outside, and your left and right tackles can fan out and make sure that Justin Houston and Bosa and Ingram, and Mack don't destroy the game, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got Peyton Manning or Tom Brady back there, they're gonna get destroyed. So as you look at your team and I know it's early, how do you think you'll be at the tackle position and protecting your quarterback.
JV: I said this yesterday Peter, to the local media. The quarterback deal is a big deal obviously, but until we protect the passer better, until we run the football better, it won't matter who's playing the position, because they won't be successful. In this division you have to block the edge rushers, so drafting Garett Bolles from Utah was a must. Acquiring Menelik Watson from Houston was a must, because you have to be able to block the edge rushers in this division. If you can't you can’t win. They will wreck the game. Outside of that, schematically you have to have a plan for not allowing those guys to wreck the game. So we're hoping obviously that Bolles is gonna be a great player, and Watson, but to block Khalil Mack 1-on-1 every down, that’s not smart or you can’t do it. So from a coach or a player’s perspective you have to be on par to block the speed rushers. I totally agree with you. And again we’ve got two good young quarterbacks. We can win with both guys but playing good defense around them, being able to block the edge rushers, that’s going to be critical also.
PK: I’ll end with this. What’s very interesting about Khalil Mack is how smart he is relative to his experience level, and the fact that he didn't start playing football until very late in life. And then he goes to the MAC...
PK: And I’m not sure who it was against, but he had a sack last year, I think it was Indianapolis, where it looked like he just stopped and gave up on the play and so the tackle just gave up and stopped. And Khalil Mack looked like he was shot out of a cannon and he went and caught the quarterback from behind and sacked him. And I thought, that was brilliant! It was in the middle of a play, he threw a changeup at the tackle. That was really a smart play by a young player who you don't think has the pedigree to know something like that.
VJ: He’s a great player.
PK: Vance Joseph, I want to wish you a great year. And I want to say I love Denver because I love going to places where football is important, and I don’t care if the Broncos are not having a great season, you come here in September and people care. You come here in December and people care. I’ll never forget at the old Mile High, being on the field late in the game, and it was a playoff game, two-minute warning, and people are stamping their feet on the old metal bleachers, and the ground is shaking. The ground out on the field is shaking! And I said that’s how much people care, they can create a small earthquake here. So you’re in a good spot and I wish you the best.
My thanks to my guests this week, Khalil Mack and Vance Joseph. Just before we go, two or three points about being on the road and seeing teams. I’m not quite sure it surprises me, but it interested me this week. One is about young coaches out there right now, and I’m going to talk for a minute about Sean McVay of the L.A. Rams. McVay was running the drills for the quarterbacks. You don’t often see head coaches running individual drills, and I thought it was interesting that he wanted to be so hands on that he's doing the small stuff in Rams camp. And of course his future and the future of a lot of people in that Rams organization, including general manager Les Snead, is gonna depend on how their young quarterback Jared Goff plays. The day I saw him on Saturday in Irvine, CA, I was not overly impressed with Goff, and I think it's gonna come down to accuracy for Jared Goff.
Six miles away on Sunday I saw the San Diego Chargers, and it’s so bizarre that for 21 years there's no NFL franchise in LA but it’s so funny to see two teams in Orange County training literally six miles apart from each other. One at UC Irvine and the other in a converted public park in Costa Mesa which is right where the Chargers plan to have their practice facility. I thought it was really interesting that the Chargers seem to have handled the move so far better than the Rams handled it a year ago. Not that the Rams had a lot of choices, they were moving across the country and the Chargers are moving 80 miles up the highway. So we’ll see how it impacts their play, but I thought one of the interesting things they did was they had their entire offseason program back in San Diego. They said it's more important for our team to be intact and not living in a hotel for 3-4 months, so we want to have everything in San Diego. So now the players and the staff in the month they had off, a lot of them moved up to the Orange County area. General manager Tom Telesco, a bunch of the players did that, and it’ll be interesting to see. There’s gonna be one person, and I wrote about this in MMQB, Philip Rivers has decided for now to stay in San Diego with his wife and eight children and commute every day about 71 miles each way. It’s no secret that could be an issue at some point, and Anthony Lynn the head coach of the Chargers did tell me he was a little bit worried about that. Finally, being in Seattle on Tuesday as I record this, so interesting to see different ways teams play, different ways teams prepare. For instance, this was a very chippy practice that I saw Tuesday, in fact there were two fights during practice. And very rarely now when I go around to see teams in training camp do I see fights, but I think Pete Carroll, as Russell Wilson told me, “We go right to the edge of the cliff and we stare off, and say have we pushed this far enough,” and I think that is something that Pete Carroll, over the years, has been his trademark. And I think Pete Carroll's whole point is that we don’t want them to fight, but we want everybody on that team to know that our defense is going to do everything humanly possible to beat the offense and vice versa, and that should matter. So the emotion for me in an August 1 practice, I don’t know what to draw from that but I certainly didn’t draw anything negative from it. To me this is a Seattle team that seems to be trying to rev up a veteran roster to make one more strong playoff run.
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