Take a look at top quotes from general manager Tom Telesco's and head coach Brandon Staley's post season press conferences as they look back on the Bolts' 9-8 season and prepare a plan for 2022.
General manager Tom Telesco on Brandon Staley's first season as head coach
"He handled things very well this year. It's great working with them. We have a great working relationship. I think you guys can tell, too, he really has a great connection with our team and with our players. I think you saw that on a daily basis. He has definitely brought an identity to this football team, which is step number one as you come in as a new head coach. I think that the future's bright with where we are. We have a lot of work to do, obviously, but I think that he handled a lot of situations - not to mention everything that goes on with COVID[-19], which is not really part of the head coach handbook. He handled things very, very well this year.
"I love the identity that we play with; I really do. I support him 100 percent. I'm a big believer in using data to make decisions, as is he. It doesn't mean that there isn't context involved in that - I mean, we're not robots - but we're trying to put our players in a position of strength, in a position of advantage, as much as we can. I love the identity that we play with. I know, on the outside, that not everyone may agree with how we play, but it's who we are and I love it. That's what we are and that's the way that we're going to play moving forward. You know what you get with us; we're going to play aggressive - it's not reckless, I really don't see it as reckless. All of these decisions, even though they're made in real-time, there's research involved in it prior to the game."
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"Watching the relationship with [Offensive Coordinator] Joe Lombardi and with [Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach] Shane Day and with [Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach] Frank Smith, to see those guys all work together, that's exciting. I really just think that we're still scratching the surface of what Joe really wants to do with this offense. Justin is still a young player. He still has a lot in front of him. I couldn't be more happy with how that has developed, how that relationship between the head coach, coordinator, quarterback coach, quarterback and even the quarterback room with [QB] Chase Daniel and [QB] Easton Stick, how those three guys worked together. I think that's really important in that position group of how they work together, how they study the opponent during the week, how they question each other, how they support each other."
Telesco on wide receiver Mike Williams
"He's had a great early career for us. I came down to the field, for the Raiders game, in overtime, and watching him play in overtime, he gave everything he had - he had nothing left by the time it got to the end of that game. If we would have won that game, it would have been a performance that we would've been talking about well after the fact. I'm thankful that we drafted him and I'm thankful that he's here. We'll figure out the future moving forward, but he was a big part of this football team this year and he has been in the past, as well."
Telesco on what he learned this season
"I like where we are. Obviously, I wish that we were in the playoffs. It was hard to handle not being a part of this, but I really like where we are with this group of people. Again, that changes year-to-year. Next year's team will be different than this year's team. The one thing is that if we do look to 2022, if you get one takeaway from this, is that we're going to focus on the whole, complete team going into next year.
"There won't be one side of the ball, there won't be one position group, that won't be one position - it's a complete look at the football team. We're not going to just look at the offense and say, 'Well, it's a top-five offense, so we're all set there and we're just going to look other places.' It just doesn't work like that. It's just too complacent. It's going to be a different team next year."
Telesco on the Chargers defense
"I'll take the responsibility that our defense did not play up to the expectations that we had for them. As I looked at the defense, moving into this year, I certainly knew that it was going to be a different scheme, new system, new coaches, but I felt like at all three levels, we had a playmaker, or playmakers, at all three levels - plus, with high football character, high football intelligence - it should be pretty seamless. But, I can't argue with the numbers. We were bottom-five in most points allowed, bottom-five on third down and bottom five in red zone - those are pretty key categories. And, kind of middle of the road in takeaways.
"Obviously, I overestimated where we may be with that because I love the scheme, I love the system and I love the coaching staff. If we had gotten a little bit more, we would probably still be playing. We need a lot more, but this year, if we just had a little bit more, we just didn't quite get there. As you move into next year, we have a lot of work to do, but, obviously, another year of learning and repetition, I think that's going to help a lot. Another year of player development, that's going to help."
Telesco on OLB Uchenna Nwosu
"I love Uchenna. He produced in the last scheme, he produced in this scheme. It doesn't matter what scheme you play, he's going to produce. I love how he plays. I love the tempo that he plays at, I love his toughness. He's a play-maker. He was a play-maker in college. He's been a play-maker with us. He closed out a playoff win against the Ravens with a strip-sack of [Ravens QB] Lamar Jackson against [former Ravens T] Orlando Brown - that's a good tackle, that's a good quarterback. He made a huge play for us and won that game. He's done that for us. We'll see how things play out. There's really no part of his game that I don't like. I love him as a person, too. Those are the type of guys that you build around."
Telesco on his philosophy on unrestricted free agency
"If you've followed us long enough, you can kind of see what our philosophy is. We would rather draft and develop our own and sign our own, wherever we can. We know that it can't be everybody, but that's our desire. We have a lot of cap space this year. It doesn't change how we'll approach free agency. We have to budget for the future. We have got six Pro Bowlers and three of them are on rookie contracts, so that has to be in the back of your mind.
"But our philosophy on free agency is that we're selective, but we also been relatively successful with those signings. We have not hit on all of them, nobody does, but as far as the money we've paid out the players and the production that we've received, I've been very happy with that. It's more selective-based. Our first priority is to reward our own, where it's needed. Then, we'll go from there and look on the outside and see what players really fit what we want to do here."
Brandon Staley on first year working with Tom Telesco
"Tom has meant a lot to me since the moment I got here and the type of person he is. I think our partnership has grown every single day that we've been here. Just truly getting to know one another and truly being up-close and personal to our way of playing, our way of doing things, and creating something together, I think that's always the key. I think in one offseason together that we've proven a lot together in terms of leading this football team. Now, there's a lot of work to do, but I think that, just in terms of his character, his capacity and our togetherness with [Owner and Chairman of the Board] Dean [A. Spanos], [President of Football Operations] John [Spanos] and the Spanos Family - that's certainly one of the highlights for me, is being able to work in that environment and to create a team that our fans can be proud of."
Staley on developing relationships with his players
"The way we competed [in Week 18] and the way we competed throughout this season shows you that we have a special thing. The way that our team competed this year, and I feel like the way we performed, is something that fans and people throughout the league are going to respect. I think that that just shows you that these guys really love coming to work every day. They love coming to compete because they like who they're doing it with and they like how we're doing it. We just need to continue to elevate our standard. Those relationships, I think they allow you to stand the test of time and I think it allows you to work through a lot of the challenges that the NFL season has, and there's a ton of them."
Staley on the Chargers 2021 rookie class
"I'm really proud of our rookie class, guys. I think that, when you take a look at it, if you study the NFL draft and you look at every team who had a draft class - all of our drafted players were active on gameday this year. If you really take a look at that class and you dive deep into them, most of them had big roles on our team, whether it was a starter on special teams, a starter on offense or defense. I think when you take a look at our first pick in the draft, you're talking about an All-Pro left tackle in his rookie season. It's something that this team I know has been searching for a long time - what every team has been searching for a long time. The fact that we have that and for [T] Rashawn [Slater] to play like he did this year, I think that's such an incredible testament to your first year together."
Staley on building a complete team
"There's a difference between being a talented team and a championship team. The goal is to become a complete team, and that's where we're headed as an organization and where we have full alignment with Dean [Spanos], John [Spanos], Tom [Telesco], myself, our coaching staff, just becoming a complete team. There's a process to get there. This was our first year together and I think that we got a lot closer to becoming a complete team in one offseason together. Now, we have got to take advantage of this coming offseason because that's the challenge in the NFL and in all of sports, to be a complete team. We're working towards that. I'm excited to get going this 2022 season."
Staley on how much of the focus will be placed on improving the defensive front
"Nowadays, I think it's hugely important. It's going to be the center of our thought process moving forward. I think that what you realize is that things have to happen in a sequence. You can't do everything at once. I think that where myself, [General Manager] Tom [Telesco], [Owner and Chairman of the Board] Dean [Spanos] and [President of Football Operations] John [Spanos], where we're all aligned is the vision that we have for that progress, for that plan. I think that what we were able to do in Year 1 was take care of what we felt like was the most important thing and the thing that we could control the most. I feel like we accomplished that."
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