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Chargers GM Tom Telesco End of Season Presser Takeaways

The Chargers GM admitted that they have a lot of work to do with the roster.

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco spoke to the media on Thursday morning, almost two weeks after their 2021 season came to a screeching halt in Las Vegas. Telesco spoke for a little more than an hour to the media.

Here are some of the main takeaways from his press conference.

  1. Telesco evaluates Staley's first season.

It was the first season under Brandon Staley as the head coach of the Chargers, and he brought a different outlook on the game. He did finish 9-8 and missed the playoffs, but overall, Telesco liked what his head coach brought in year one.

"I think he handled things very well this year," Telesco said. "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. So yeah, I think the future's bright with where we are. We have a lot of work to do, obviously."

When a new coach gets hired, it is tough to unite a team, but it is even harder to keep them connected through the bad stuff that happens during the season. No matter all the mistakes or blown opportunities, the Chargers players seemed united.

Even after losing to the Raiders, players spoke about what a bright future this team has and how excited they are about being a part of it during exit interviews. Obviously, this franchise needs to start consistently winning but for Staley to have the team united through everything says a lot about him as a coach and person.

2. Put the defensive blame on him

One of the more significant takeaways from Thursday was Telesco placing the blame on how bad the defense played on him.

"I'll take the responsibility that our defense did not play up to the expectations that we had for them," Telesco said. "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 got a little bit more, we probably still playing."

Telesco said, looking through everything last year, that he felt the offense would struggle, and the defense would be their strong suit, but that didn't happen. He broke down how the Chargers were bottom five in points allowed, third efficiency, and red zone.

They have some work to do on defense, especially with some of the free agents the team has, and also evaluating who fits in the scheme and deserves to return.

3. Not talking extensions.

Telesco was asked about extensions for receiver Mike Williams, Derwin James, and others. He mentioned numerous times that he isn't looking at 2022 yet, but they haven't shut the door on the 2021 season.

On Williams, "I'm just I'm thankful we draft him, and thankfully, he's here," Telesco said. "We'll figure out the future moving forward. But he's a big part of the football team this year, and he has been in the past as well."

The former seventh overall pick has taken huge steps forward the last couple of years. He flourished in Joe Lombardi's offense and showed that he was more than just a down-the-field receiver. It will be interesting to see if the Chargers brass goes franchise tag or long-term deal.

On James, "That one's no secret as far as what he means to the defense and all football team," Telesco said about James. "I can't say enough good things about him as a player and as a person, as a leader for us. Big part of this. Major part of this."

They love James, and he loves them. This seems like the summer to get a deal done with their young safety.

Uchenna Nwosu, "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 mentioned how he loved the production from Nwosu, who seemed to struggle early in the season, but grew as the season continued. He believes that Nwosu is a player who produces no matter what scheme the team plays.

4. Telesco understands fan frustration

It is no secret that Tom Telesco's teams have struggled in the past. The Chargers have only made the playoffs twice during his tenure. They have an overall record of 69-76. They have only one ten-win season.

Some fans have begun to show their displeasure with the general manager's job performance on social media. He was asked about his message to the fans who aren't happy with the job he has done.

"I understand," Telesco said. "I think, if you watched our team on the field this year, objectively, I think it's hard to look at this team and not be excited for the future. We play an exciting brand of football. We have a lot of playmakers on the field. We're not that far away. In mid-December, we were playing for division lead. But, when our best was needed — and our best was needed late in the year — we just didn't quite have it, which is why we weren't the playoffs. So, I understand the fan frustration. I really do. There's a sense of urgency in the building. There always has been since I've been here. We just have to keep working on it and try to get over that hump to get in the tournament, and then make a run from there. I think if you look at where the roster is right now, you look where our coaching staff is right now, and when I look at the support that I see in the stadium, in town — to me, this has been a pretty big transformation this past year, and a lot of it has to do with the 2021 team. The identity that they have, how we play, I feel the support, and I can see it — I see it on game day, which going into this year was completely new, we didn't know what we were going to see in our first year in a new stadium, in what, basically, is a new market for us. I think that there's a lot there to be proud of with this football team and how they play. We're just going to keep working at it. I understand that people want results right now, and they should have results right now, but this team is different than the team a couple of years ago. I'm really just focused on 2021, and then getting better for 2022."

5. Special teams change

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Last week, the Chargers made a coaching change when they fired special teams coach Derius Swinton after one season. Telesco talked about the decision to let go of Swinton even though there was an improvement.

"I do think Brandon wants the perfect fit of his coaching staff, and he wants to get that fit done as early as possible," Telesco said. "So, it just didn't quite work out as far as be the perfect fit for what he's looking for."

They may be looking for a veteran voice that has experience in this area. There were a lot of first-timers going into their coaching staff last season, so Staley might be looking for a veteran coach in this area.

6. Telesco commends right side of o-line

The Chargers had Bryan Bulaga, and Oday Aboushi penciled in as the starters on the right side of the offensive line. That didn't work out. Bulaga went down two quarters into the season while Aboushi tore his ACL week four.

They started Storm Norton at right tackle and Michael Schofield at right guard. They did a serviceable job, but the Chargers brass knows that the right side needs work.

"We have competition on that side of the line more than likely, I would say so," Telesco said. "I don't think we're really into giving people positions right now. But for what Michael Scofield did at right guard for us, and what Storm Norton did a right tackle for us, I'm proud of those guys, because our offense scored a lot of points moved the ball pretty well for us. They're part of that."

They did well, but there were too many games in which they gave up pressure on the right side. There needs to be more consistency. What Maxx Crosby did in week 18 to disrupt the flow of the offense shouldn't happen. That right side is an area to keep an eye on during free agency and the draft.

7. Telesco comments on struggling players

Three players who seemed to struggle in Staley’s new defensive scheme are in the Chargers future plans no matter what. Two of them are former first-round draft picks. The other they paid last offseason.

Jerry Tillery, "He'll continue to get better. He certainly fits in what we want to do upfront. Is he the finished product? No, he's not, like a lot of our players are not the finished product yet. You look at what [LB] Kyzir White did this year, his fourth year in the league, he took a huge jump and played great football for us. It doesn't always come along, right out of the package, the way that [T] Rashawn Slater did."

Kenneth Murray, "It was a challenge for him this year. Like I said to start, we love his skillset, love his makeup. He has a bright future. We just have to get him grooved and get him going. I think we're going to be okay. I know from his standpoint it was a challenging year for him."

Michael Davis, "we are asking him to do some things that are different than what he has done in the past. He will continue to get better because he has the mindset, the work ethic, and the skills, obviously. He has long arms, tall, and runs very well. He's athletic. He still has a lot of improvement to make, and he'll make it. Just more time, more repetition, more learning."

Plainly, Telesco believes that all three players will continue to improve as they go into their second season in the Staley defense.

8. Telesco loves Staley's analytics

Telesco is a fan of the use of analytics in football. He was a fan of the way Staley used them this season and was happy with the aggressive approach.

"We're trying to put our players in the position of strength, and a position of advantage as much as we can," Telesco said. "I love the identity that we play with. I know, on the outside, not everyone may agree with how we play. But it's who we are, and I love it."

9. Justin Herbert talk

No press conference would be complete without quarterback Justin Herbert talk. He had a great 2021 season and might be in the NFL MVP talk if the Chargers would have made the playoffs.

Telesco said how pleased he was with the offense's steps this season and felt like they were ahead of schedule.

"I really just think we're still scratching the surface of what Joe really wants to do with this offense, and Justin's still a young player, he still has a lot in front of him," Telesco said.

Now it is about building around the young quarterback on offense by getting him some new blockers and new toys. Plus, helping build that defense.

10. The future is bright.

The Chargers general manager mentioned that they basically competed until the end of the season and felt like they were right there.

"We're not that far away," Telesco said.

They now need to find players that will help them get over the hump. They were aggressive last offseason when they signed center Corey Linsley and left guard Matt Feiler, so they may need to be like that this offseason.

Telesco, Staley, and their staff will focus on all three areas of the game when re-signing, releasing, trading for, trading away, or signing players. They are focused on improving the team as a whole, not just one area.