Commanders coach Mike Riley discusses starting up new team

Commanders coach Mike Riley talked about quarterbacks starting a new team during Wednesday's meeting with the local media. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders coach Mike Riley talked about quarterbacks and starting a new team during Wednesday’s meeting with the local media.
San Antonio Commanders head coach Mike Riley’s previous stop in San Antonio involved guiding a new coach in a new league.

That was back in 1991, when Riley took over the San Antonio Riders of the NFL-owned World League. He had previously won a CFL title while coaching in Winnipeg.

Over the years, Riley has coached in the NFL with the San Chargers and in college at Nebraska and Oregon State.

Riley’s previous experience with a new team in San Antonio gives him an idea of how to handle his newest assignment. Here is what he had to say during Wednesday’s meeting with the local media:

What have you learned from your previous start-up experience?

“I think I’ve learned to be flexible. What we’ll find is we’ve got to find a way to do something and be adjustable. Everything logistically the first time around is not simple. Where you’re going to practice. Where you’re going to dress. Where you’re going to meet. All that’s brand new.

“We’re fortunate in San Antonio because we’re going to have a great facility. But just logistically getting around and getting kind of a flow day to day is the big deal. You like consistency once you get into training camp and then the season. That’s my goal is to find a comfort zone going through mini-camp, going through training camp and getting into the season where it just kind of flows easily.”

What do you hope to accomplish in this week’s mini-camp?

“We want to kind of see who we have, so the evaluation process starts. So there is going to be drill work that is kind of geared toward both football skills and evaluation.

“Then, we want to get some football done. We want to get some of the structure of what we are going to run offensively and defensively in. Hopefully things that will carry over on the very first day of training camp. We want go get some stuff accomplished that will transfer to January 5.”

What did you look for in your quarterbacks during the league’s QB combine and protect-or-pick QB draft?

“First of all we’re real excited about the quarterbacks we got in the draft. The draft was really well done from the combine here in San Antonio to the draft in Vegas. I thought everything was smooth. It was pretty exciting to go through. We went through and ranked all the quarterbacks.

“We basically look for a quarterback that is accurate. That is probably the No. 1 thing. Then have some of those traits that through time they kind of develop an identity. They come from a program that won games. They’ve started a number of games in their college career. They’ve been high percentage. They’ve got a good touchdown to interception ratio.

“It kind of starts with the ability to throw. The bonus is the athleticism that each one of them can bring to what we’re doing. That’s always helpful. But we want a passer first.”

What are your impressions of former UTSA quarterback Dalton Sturm?

“I really like Dalton. He’s slowed right now in this mini-camp with a little bit of an elbow problem so you won’t see him until we get to training camp. The one thing about a brand new team, a brand new league, a first-year startup, they’ll all start on even ground. Dalton has been one of those stories where he has kind of had to earn his way all the way along. I think he’ll take every bit of advantage of doing that with this team.”

How does this team compare to your 1991 World League team in San Antonio?

“I told the team last night, I really enjoyed that group. This is very similar, same ages. They’ve all had good college careers, had opportunities in pro football and are look to continue their dream.

“I’ve been very impressed with the maturity of the group. I think their intent is great. What we will find is we will have a very, very competitive camp. There’s 85 guys here. We have to eventually go to 52. They’ll compete real hard to keep their dream alive.”

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