They are on opposite coasts, but linked together like few others in NFL history.
Shane Steichen with the Los Angeles Chargers and Scott Turner with the Washington Football Team are NFL offensive coordinators and former UNLV quarterbacks and teammates.
How often is it that the same school produces two active coordinators, much less from the same team, is unknown, only that appears to be rare. Turner said the only comparison he was aware of is current head coaches Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns and Joe Judge of the New York Giants who briefly attended the same Philadelphia high school together.
The two coordinators, who both still have phone numbers with the 702 area code, played for the Rebels in the early 2000s. Steichen passed for 2,755 yards, but Turner’s playing time was much more limited. They formed a lasting bond and even served in each other’s weddings in 2012.
Being three time zones apart and in the middle of training camp makes staying in regular contact difficult, but they keep in touch at least once a month.
Steichen, 35, became the Chargers’ offensive coordinator midway through last season as quarterback Philip Rivers played the last of his 16 seasons with the organization.
Who the Chargers start at quarterback in mid-December remains to be seen as Philip Rivers left after 16 seasons there. Veteran Tyrod Taylor is expected to be start the season, but the Chargers drafted Justin Herbert, who played for current UNLV coach Marcus Arroyo at Oregon, sixth overall this year.
“He’s shown some really good progress in these first couple of weeks of camp,” Steichen said of Herbert. “It’s just finally good to get him out on the grass. We had so many virtual meetings, but now that he’s out there practicing with the guys, it’s been good. He’s shown that he can be a good player in this league, but he’s got to continue to progress every day and get better.”
Like their AFC West rival Raiders, the Chargers will play in a new venue this year, the $5 billion SoFi Stadium. They visit the Raiders at $2 billion Allegiant Stadium on Dec. 17, with Steichen in the unusual role of being on the visiting team in Las Vegas.
“I’ll be excited to go to the new stadium,” Steichen said. “I always liked coaching at that old Oakland Coliseum. There was something about it. That was one of my favorite away stadiums to coach at.”
In Washington, Turner also has decisions to help make at quarterback.
Alex Smith is back after suffering a broken right leg nearly two years ago that threatened to end his career. Dwayne Haskins, whom Washington drafted 15th overall in 2019 and started seven times as a rookie, is listed first on the depth chart.
Evaluating the position has been challenging because of the COVID-19 pandemic that wiped out virtually the entire offseason.
“We’ve got to make the most of every rep,” Turner said. “Yeah, we’d love to have a lot more reps than we have, but there’s nothing we can do about that. We talk all the time about a sense of urgency and how important that is. There are no wasted moments because the game on Sept. 13 (against the Philadelphia Eagles), they’re not going to move it back.”
Football has been far from the only topic in D.C. Washington dropped its nickname after 87 years over concerns Redskins was a racist term.
Turner, 38, said his focus is what he can control, and it was coach Ron Rivera who gave him control of the offense. He was the Carolina Panthers’ quarterbacks coach under Rivera, who was impressed enough to take him to Washington.
Turner’s dad, Norv, was a longtime NFL head coach and offensive coordinator, and the two communicate daily.
“I’m fortunate to have been able to work with him for a number of years,” Scott Turner said. “I learned a lot from him. He gave me a lot of responsibilities just as a quarterbacks coach to help (the QBs) and to prepare me for this role.”
Shane Steichen’s NFL coaching history
2011-12 — Chargers defensive assistant
2013 — Browns offensive quality control coach
2014-15 — Chargers offensive quality control coach
2016-19 — Chargers quarterbacks coach
2019-present — Chargers offensive coordinator
Scott Turner’s NFL coaching history
2011-12 — Panthers offensive quality control coach
2013 — Browns wide receivers coach
2014-16 — Vikings quarterbacks coach
2018-19 — Panthers quarterbacks coach/interim offensive coordinator
2020 — Washington offensive coordinator