Chargers' biggest key to success

San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano established creating turnovers as a point of emphasis for his unit during the offseason.

Pagano’s defense finished with just 17 turnovers forced last season, third fewest in the NFL. However, the Chargers did improve in that statistic during the backstretch of 2013, forcing 10 turnovers over the final six games. San Diego finished 5-1 over that stretch.

The Chargers also forced six turnovers in the postseason, ranking second behind the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks (eight).

Over the past two seasons, the Chargers created 45 turnovers. The Seahawks, considered the league’s best defense, forced 70 turnovers over that time frame.

Led by Philip Rivers, the Chargers have one of the best offenses in the NFL. If Pagano’s unit does a better job of getting after the football, San Diego will have more opportunities to put points on the board and a shorter distance to drive for scores.

Pagano began each practice that was open to reporters during the offseason with a turnover circuit, and coaches implored all 11 defenders to rally to the football during team drills. At times last season, the Chargers had issues with effort, giving up explosive plays due to poor tackling.

“The biggest thing that we've been doing this offseason is focusing even more on technique and fundamentals,” Pagano said. “We're doing more drills together as a unit. We're doing tackling circuits. We're doing pass-rush circuits. And we're doing turnover circuits.

“That's how we start practice every day. And those things are the things we need to improve on defensively to be a top defense.”