SAN DIEGO -- A Los Angeles native, Brandon Mebane compared new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to another L.A. native because of his ability to paint a picture and capture an audience.
“I call Gus the white Ice Cube,” Mebane said. “He’s the best storyteller you ever want to be around. Gus brings a lot of energy to the room. And when he talks to everybody, you might not be feeling good that day, but when he talks with you and inspires you, you want to go out there and make plays and try to be the best.”
Bradley has been using that innate ability to communicate with players throughout his time in the NFL, helping them understand his defensive philosophy and culture -- how he wants the Los Angeles Chargers to execute on the field. So far, according to the players he oversees, Bradley has been effective.
“He’s got a lot of jokes, a lot of riddles,” Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward said. “You go into his office, and he’s going to give you a riddle every day. I’m not going to talk about his riddles [laughs], but he gives you a lot of different things every day.”
One thing Bradley has emphasized from the start is taking away the football. The Chargers showed improvement in that area last season under defensive coordinator John Pagano, forcing 28 turnovers in 2016 -- tied for fourth in the league.
The year before that in 2015, though, the Chargers forced 20 turnovers -- No. 24 in the NFL.
“The one thing I see is they have a passion, they have a hunger to get the ball,” Mebane said about his team’s defense. “We’ve been talking [for] about the past month that getting the ball and trying to get it back to the offense is important. And the way we’re approaching that is on a whole another level right now.
"It has a lot to do with Gus. It’s a lot of the same things Gus and I used to do when we were back in Seattle. We were always talking about getting the ball back and turnovers."
Bradley said his group is well on its way to forging a new identity as the Chargers prepare for the 2017 season. “We have an unbelievable group of guys,” Bradley told the team’s website. “They are attentive and sharp. You can see that it is extremely important to them. That, and just how fast they are picking things up.
“They are very sharp. It’s a captive audience, and you can tell they are very close. When all is said and done, you want a team that plays for one another. That’s the whole objective. When they do that, they own it, and that is when they can do great things. I sense that here. They care about each other, and they really help each other. It’s very important to have a close-knit team like this.”