San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner addresses the New England media during his conference call on January 16, 2008.
Q: This year we saw sort of an explosion of offensive records, not just with Tom Brady and Brett Favre, but across the board - more yardage, more yards after catch, almost every category. From your years running offenses, why do you see that trend? Is it because the rules are structured to encourage that, or is there something else at work here?
NT: I think it's probably a couple of things. Certainly people are obviously throwing the football more [and] spreading people out, which gives you an opportunity for more big plays. And then there's probably a little bit more of a disparity now than in the past. [There's] 32 teams; There's probably… [Let me] say it the right way… The imbalance of good defenses to bad defenses, you get in some games where you're playing against bad teams or bad defenses or the combination of both and you get a lot of opportunities to be wide open and make plays.
Q: What has LaDainian Tomlinson meant to this team this year?
NT: Every team has a guy that kind of you build around and he's been that guy here. He's persistent in his attitude and his leadership and we all got off to a slow start. It was tough on LT early and we weren't playing as well as we had, but once we got going, he's had the same kind of year he's had over the last seven. Obviously when you lead the league in rushing after getting off to a slow start, he's a complete player for us offensively. He makes plays in the passing game, he's an excellent blocker and obviously is a great runner.
Q: Can you talk about the play of Andrew Pinnock in the absence of Lorenzo Neal?
NT: Andrew's been here awhile. He's a good worker and he's kind of stayed the course. At times, I think guys get frustrated, but when you're young you don't realize that the opportunity could come at any time. He's really answered the bell with this opportunity and he's played really well. He's quick out of his stance, he's very physical and he's really helped out running game.
Q: Bill Belichick has kind of cited the way you guys have played over the last eight games of the regular season, saying statistically you guys have played better than any team in the AFC, and he counts his own team among that group. Do you find it kind of startling to hear him say that, since his team went undefeated in the regular season?
NT: No, knowing that we're getting ready to play him. Obviously I have unbelievable respect for Bill and what he's done as a coach in all different areas and just what they've done this year. Bill's known as a defensive guy, but what they've done with this offense and the way they've kind of taken the league by storm and everyone knows that New England right now is playing the best football in the league and it's going to be a real challenge for us.
Q: How about the elements? Is that at all a concern, especially if the wind starts howling like they're predicting? How does that affect your passing game?
NT: You have to manage a game and I've coached - Even though we're out here in San Diego, we've all coached in games where it's windy, rainy, wet, snowing, whatever, and the game changes. That's part of I think the experience of being through different situations. We're going to have to - It becomes a field position game. If it does affect your passing game, it becomes a field position game. You have to make decisions based on field position, kicking game and then be smart in terms of - you figure out what you can do in the passing game and don't try to do things that you're not capable of doing.
Q: Did you say snowy? I thought it never rained in Southern California, let alone snow.
NT: We do travel outside of the state occasionally.
Q: Can you talk about your tremendously successful turnover margin this season?
NT: Well, it's remarkable the things we've done defensively. The ball goes up in the air and we have a lot of good athletes back there and it seems like one guy tips it and it goes up in the air and one of our guys finds a way to get it. The combination of being able to pressure the quarterback, get pressure and create some errant throws and then our guys rallying to the ball to get it - We have a bunch of guys back there that really could play on offenses as receivers. They have very good ball skills, so that's been big. And then we started off early in the year, we weren't protecting the ball like we should have and over this last stretch, last couple of months, I think we've done a real good job protecting the ball.
Q: When Peyton Manning set the league touchdown record, it seemed like it was a bar that was set fairly high that no one else would attain that record, but now that Tom Brady has surpassed it, does it astonish you that he's been able to do that this season with the weapons he's had around him?
NT: Again, it's amazing to me the guys who've done it - [Dan] Marino, who took the league by storm when he did his and certainly the Rams when they did it, and it just keeps moving. Peyton did it and they were unstoppable, and this year that's what New England's done and it's a combination, I think, of obviously the way Brady has played, the number of receivers he has, the coaching, the scheme, all of those things go into place, are part of setting that record. It's hard to imagine a guy breaking the record or playing better than Tom has, unless he breaks it next year.