It is a considerable step in Renaldo Hill's career becoming the defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers. He has a relationship with new head coach Brandon Staley that goes back to the Denver Broncos. Staley was the outside linebackers coach, and Hill was the secondary coach.
Staley was hired by the Los Angeles Rams as their defensive coordinator while Hill continued to build a top-ten secondary in Denver. Hill recalled their time as position coaches and said he remembered how fired up they would both get about trying to figure out the opposing offense.
"Let's figure out some puzzles," said Hill. "Let's figure out what the top teams in the NFL are doing. Let's find the new things that people are doing, and let's attack them."
During his introductory press conference, the head coach said that he sometimes sits back and wants others to chime in and give their thoughts.
Staley mentioned that he loved listening to Jalen Ramsey, Bradley Chubb, Aaron Donald, or Khalil Mack gave their point of view because it would help him see a different perspective.
Hill believes that it is key, especially because sometimes players don't like listening to one person.
"We'll definitely collaborate on those and come up with what's best for the guys, but he's always been open to listening and receiving ideas," Hill said. "Staley emphasizes all the time it is a collaboration of voices in the room, and everybody having their opinion in what this defense will look like when you can listen to those other ideas, it makes everybody feel a part of what we're doing, we're having success."
That is what Staley is famous for his listening skills.
Staley will be calling the plays on game day, which is nothing Hill isn't used to because Broncos head coach Vic Fangio would call the defensive plays on Sundays. Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell would handle things during the week.
"I definitely will lean on Staley and be able to sit back and learn. It still gives you that that growth opportunity," Hill said. "I can move around and assert myself into the front seven, but also still have a footprint on the back end."
Hill played in the league for ten seasons, so he feels like he is able to connect with the players on a whole different level. He played for the Cardinals, Raiders, Dolphins, and Broncos.
"Being in those shoes, understanding, what's the day to day, how the body feels, I think it's important when we do get on this side of the ball, as far as coaches, that we understand that we got to get our players to the game, I think that's the most one of the most important things you can have," said Hill.
After retiring, he decided to get into coaching. He has been an NFL coach for four seasons and has been on an upward trajectory.
The Chargers could be moving to a 3-4 base defense, which Fangio runs, and what Staley ran with the Rams. Both Staley and Hill said they would fit their defensive scheme around the players and how they think they would fit the best.
It is still early.
Hill did mention every one of his starters on defense during the opening question of his press conference. The three players that stand out right off the bat are defensive end Joey Bosa, linebacker Kenneth Murray, and safety Derwin James.
He also talked about staying committed to "holding a two-high" and "disguising" their formations. The defense may change a bit, but as they said, it depends on the players they have on the roster next season.
He mentioned four coaches who will be a part of his staff with former Tennessee defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley, Giff Smith 9the Bolts defensive line coach from 2016-2020), former Rams linebackers coach Joe Barry, and former Seattle defensive quality control coach Tom Donatell.
Hill will have his work cut out for him along with Staley and the staff. This is not the same defense that was top five in almost every category, like in 2018 when they went 12-4. They were 25th in sacks and tied for 22nd in takeaways. They also let six double-digit leads get away from them.
In Gus Bradley's 4-3 defense, the biggest pet peeve was the lack of blitzing. His defense was about trying to get home with the four pass rushers. Sometimes it worked. Other times Tom Brady was torching the zone defense in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The Chargers blitzed 6.1 times last season while the NFL averaged 11.7.
"I believe you have to bring pressure and as lead," said Hill. "I believe you have to change it up. I mean, you these quarterbacks, multiple looks, and you have to also know who you're going against because some of these quarterbacks we face in our conference, they invite the pressure, but the better we can do with holding our looks and their disguises, I think that will help our blitz plan out."
Staley said during his press conference that he is committed to helping minority coaches get hired in the NFL. He hired Hill and also Derius Swinton to be his special teams coach. Hill wants to use his voice to help other up and coming coaches work their way up. He is thankful to his head coach and can't wait to get started.
"One of the first things that Stanley mentioned is about putting guys in a better position in order to move up in advance, and it wasn't lip service," said Hill.