The 2023 offseason has officially arrived for the Bolts.
Here are five takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley's year-end press conference on Wednesday:
1. Staley's final message
Staley's press conference lasted for 40 minutes and covered a variety of subjects, including what he envisions for the Chargers next offensive coordinator.
But he also took a moment to reflect on his second season as a head coach, passing along the message he shared with his team after a loss in the Wild Card round.
"We definitely improved as a franchise this season. We took a step, as a franchise. We earned ourselves a spot on the tournament," Staley said. "I'm as frustrated as anybody that's a Chargers fan over what happened, because there's no one that is investing as much as we are in what happened."
The Bolts went 9-8 in 2021 — Staley's first season in charge — before improving to 10-7 with a playoff appearance in Year 2.
And while the finality of the season was abrupt, Staley said he feels like the Bolts are a different team than they were even at the beginning of the season.
In addition to hiring a new offensive coordinator, Staley noted that he's excited to attack the offseason and look for ways to continually enhance the Bolts.
"What I would tell the fans is that I'm just as disappointed as they are, but I'm really excited to get this process started," Staley said. "Because, just like last year when we made a lot of big improvements in our football team, that gave us this chance to compete for a championship.
"I know that if we keep making that type of progress, we will consistently be there at the end," Staley added.
2. Assessing Saturday's 2nd half
The Bolts 31-30 Wild Card loss was certainly a tale of two halves.
The first 30 minutes went the Chargers way, as they led 27-7 at the break after forcing five turnovers.
But the final two quarters were the opposite, as the Chargers were outscored 24-3 after halftime.
Reflecting on Wednesday, Staley said there wasn't a rash of major mistakes in the second half in Jacksonville. Instead, things simply just added up as the game wore on.
"It was unique in the fact that there weren't these catastrophic big plays that kind of led to you giving away a lead," Staley said. "We didn't turn the football over. We weren't giving up these killer, huge, big plays. We gave up one long pass and that was it. There wasn't any big special teams errors. I know we missed a kick, but we just didn't execute at a high enough level in the second half.
"When it got tight and their crowd got into it, it became a dog fight. I think, in all three phases, we just didn't quite execute at a high enough level," Staley said. "I thought there were some penalties in the game that really swung the momentum of the game in the second half."
Staley put the onus on himself for the way the second half unfolded, noting that he takes "full ownership" for the loss.
"We just didn't make enough winning plays, and that starts with me, in all three phases," Staley said. "I needed to coach better in all three phases in order to help us finish that game. I didn't do a good enough job of that. I take full responsibility.
"Like I said, that's where you have to go after a game like that. You have to take full ownership for what happened. I'm the one who is responsible for it," Staley added. "I'm proud that we were able to get a chance to compete. I thought that first half showed you what our team has inside of it and the second half showed where we need to improve."
3. Creating a culture
The 2022 Chargers season saw plenty of ups and downs. But through it all, the message from the players was how a close bond within the team allowed them to push through it.
That is an element that Staley drove home even further in his second year as head coach, as culture building was an area he referenced many times throughout the year.
He expanded on that approach again Wednesday.
"Things take some time," Staley said. "You have to see the tangible evidence that things are improving, which is what I think has happened here over the course of this season. We wouldn't have made the playoffs if that way of thinking was true. When we got completely cleaned out with our football team, we could have been a non-playoff team.
"I felt like, at the end of the season when we were 6-6 and that season could have gone a couple of different directions when you're playing two playoff teams, I felt like our team really rose to the occasion and finished with four-straight wins to get us into the playoffs," Staley later added.
As Staley prepares to take on his third season at the helm, that culture will be something that he hopes to continue to improve with every addition the team makes.
"I think what you have to continue to do is what we did this year — continue to bring in people that have those intangibles, that come from the places that know what it takes," Staley said. "The people that you have in your building that have been with you from the beginning that you want to build with, you bring that all together and you're going to have something special.
"That's what is happening here," Staley added. "Again, it's something that does take some time. As long as you're doing it with the right people, which is what we have here, I know that won't be the case."
4. Room for self-growth
The improvement from Staley's first to second season at the helm goes more than just record.
For Staley, the self-growth he saw this season is something that starts with relationships he's built with people in the organization.
"Everything that I do as a leader is to try and start with myself. There are so many things that go into being a coach," Staley said. "It starts, to me, with relationships and making sure that you're onboarding the right people, that you continue to improve and to grow, to hold people to that high standard.
"You have to live that mission. They have to see that through you," Staley added.
With a pair of above -500 seasons in two years, Staley hopes to keep consistency in more than just on the field.
"That's what I try to do, be the same guy, be consistent, have people know the type of competitor I am and be able to see me making improvements in the areas that I need to make," Staley said. "Our players, our coaches, you guys know the improvement that I made from my first year to my second year.
"You're able to see it, visibly," Staley added. "I don't need to tell you the improvements I made. Hopefully, I can show it."
5. A pair of injury updates
Staley also offered a pair of injury updates in the final portion of his press conference, both of which regarded cornerbacks on the roster.
The first was on J.C. Jackson, who suffered a ruptured patella tendon in Week 7 against the Seahawks.
"He is working his way back. It's going to be a process," Staley said. "As you know, it's a significant injury. He's working hard, just like all of the rest of the guys."
Jackson played in five games with a pair of passes defensed before his injury.
Michael Davis replaced Jackson in the starting lineup and thrived down the stretch, recording 14 of his 15 pass breakups after the bye week.
Davis played 47 snaps against the Jaguars but suffered a pectoral injury a few minutes into the third quarter.
Staley was asked if Davis will need surgery on that injury:
"I don't know that yet," Staley said.
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