Skip to main content

Chargers Official Site | Los Angeles Chargers -

5 Takeaways: John Spanos Looks Ahead to Chargers Head Coach & General Manager Search


John Spanos met with beat reporters Monday at Hoag Performance Center for nearly an hour.

The Chargers President of Football Operations outlined why recent front office moves were made and also gave a glimpse at what the Bolts upcoming head coach and general manager searches could look like.

Here are five takeaways from Spanos:

1. Time for a change

The Chargers on Friday parted ways with Brandon Staley and Tom Telesco.

Telesco had been the Chargers General Manager for over a decade while Staley was in his third season as the Chargers Head Coach.

Spanos was asked right away why the decision was made to part ways with both.

"The easiest and most accurate way to answer that question is we felt it was in the best interest of the team," Spanos said. "We weren't where we needed to be. It's obviously a really big decision, one that you want to make sure you don't make sort of impulsively.

"Why were we not where we needed to be? I think there's a lot of factors and details at play," Spanos added, "But the simplest answer is it was in the best interest of the team. We needed to go in another direction."

The Chargers began the 2023 season with high expectations — both internally and externally — but sit at 5-9 with three regular-season games remaining.

Spanos said that the Chargers lopsided loss to the Raiders was a "contributing factor" in the decisions but noted that both Staley and Telesco were evaluated on their entire body of work.

"I think that again, because it's such a big decision you don't want to act irrationally," Spanos said. "We play such an emotional game and there's so many emotions every game, so you really want to make sure you're not making a super significant change like this because of just one game.

"It was everything. It was really observing and evaluating where we were the whole season, not just the one game," Spanos added. "Obviously, you guys were at the game, you saw what happened, so of course that was a contributing factor."

The Los Angeles Chargers proudly presented the 1st Annual LA City Gridiron Classic pitting the best players in the City Section against each other on Friday, December 15, 2023 at Birmingham High in Van Nuys, CA.

2. What the future holds

The Bolts focus has already shifted to the pair of searches in hiring a new general manager and head coach.

Spanos said Monday that no stone will be left unturned in the coming weeks and months.

"I think right now, what behooves us is to cast a wide net, keep an open mind," said Spanos, who added the organization is "really strategizing right now" at what they want that process to look like.

Spanos also said there has been no decision in terms of which role will be filled first.

"I just want to make sure we don't limit ourselves and say we got to get the GM first. It may end up being that way," Spanos said "If you look historically at what's happened in the league the last several years, there's been some team that have been able to execute a parallel path where you interview both at the same time, so that's certainly a possibility.

"But again, we're not going to lock ourselves in any one way or any one structure right now," Spanos added. "Kind of see how it unfolds as we get closer to the end of the year. But really open to everything."

Plus, Spanos added, the Chargers are evaluating the football structure they currently operate and are evaluating if any changes are needed there.

The Bolts previous three head coaching hires were all first-time head coaches, with Staley being the latest.

Spanos was asked about the possibility of bringing in a head coach who has held that role before in his career.

"I do think there's value in previous head coach experience," Spanos said. "We all recognize that it helps having been through it before.

"I don't think it can be the end all, be all in not looking at anyone but experienced coaches," Spanos added. "But, absolutely, we'll factor in that. That's an added bonus."

Finally, Spanos noted that while at the NFL League Meeting last week, there was some discussion on how quickly teams have recently made head coach and general manager hires.

"Some of the new guidelines lends itself to a much slower process for the league," Spanos said. "Even if that wasn't the case, this is something we would be very thoughtful and diligent, we wouldn't hurry into.

"So yeah, in a way, we will be taking our time. I think these three weeks will be advantageous for us to kind of … strategize and make sure we're ready," Spanos added.

3. Message to the fans

Spanos also delivered a message to Chargers fans on Monday.

He noted that the Bolts have some of the most passionate fans in the league and that the Spanos family will continue to strive to bring success for that group.

"As it relates to the fans, I think another great thing about our sport is the passion that comes with our sport and with our fans," Spanos said. "Obviously when things aren't going well, there's going to be negative emotion with that — frustration, anger, disappointment.

"What I can tell you is those emotions, not only do I understand them, but completely empathize with them," Spanos added. "I promise you to whatever degree our fans are feeling those emotions, I'm feeling the multiplier of it."

Spanos noted that the Bolts organization will keep searching for ways to make sure disappointing seasons like this one don't happen again.

"We didn't get where we ultimately wanted to go but I know we're all going to learn from it and we're going to do even better the next time," Spanos said. "The commitment to winning and the commitment to do whatever it takes to get there is as strong as it's ever been."

That includes continuing to build around franchise quarterback Justin Herbert.

"Providing Justin with all the resources to help him be his best, and the team be its best, is without question a No. 1 priority," Spanos said. "I'm very grateful Justin is here, I believe in him, I'm excited for his future."

4. A commitment to winning

Spanos emphasized his family's commitment to winning once again on Monday.

Because while front office moves were made, he said the buck stops at the top when it comes to success for the Chargers.

"I think ultimately in my opinion, everything starts with ownership," Spanos said. "I think ultimately we're responsible for everything."

In recent seasons, and including the current one, the Chargers haven't been afraid to spend on trying to make the roster as strong as possible.

The Spanos' commitment to results will also come to fruition in 2024 when the Bolts open their new team facility in El Segundo.

"No. 1, it's providing the resources, whatever they may be," Spanos said of ownership's role in success. "It's helping every employee and player here be his or her best. Providing resources such as spending on players. We had one of the most expensive rosters the past couple of years and our cash spending in among the highest in the league.

"Building a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility. A commitment to resources and then, really, doing whatever it takes to going and finding the right people," Spanos added.

Spanos also noted that he expects no financial limitations when it comes to hiring a new head coach and general manager.

"Going into this search, everything is a possibility. There have been no discussions internally about there being a max [dollar amount]," Spanos said. "We're always going to do what's in the best interest of the team."

And, as the general manager and head coach search shape out going forward, the Chargers know they are certainly a draw for candidates.

"There's a lot to be excited about here. We got a brand-new facility opening up … that's going to be a big boost, a big plus for this organization," Spanos said. "I think obviously the quarterback has a lot to do with that for a lot of people.

"I think that our style as owners, I think that helps as well in regards about what I said about our philosophy, which is we hire really good people and you let them do their jobs," Spanos added. "You support them as best you can, you work cohesively together."

Spanos noted that numerous people outside the building have reached out in recent days about how attractive the Chargers opening are.

Not that he or his family care much about that in regards to the search process.

"Where my focus is really not like, 'Where does it rank, how desirable is it?' My whole focus is just finding the right people," Spanos said.

The Los Angeles Chargers today named Giff Smith Interim Head Coach and JoJo Wooden Interim General Manager for the remainder of the 2023 season.

5. Closing out the regular season

The Chargers have three games remaining and are going forward with Giff Smith as the Interim Head Coach.

Spanos on Monday explained the decision to go with Smith, who was previously the Chargers outside linebacker coach.

"Giff as the Interim [Head Coach] is not an indictment on anyone who's here because I do think we have a lot of quality coaches. But Giff is someone I've known a long time and worked with for awhile now. I've seen the coach he is, the leader he is. I think he's the best man right now to lead this team."

JoJo Wooden, meanwhile, will serve as the Interim General Manager. He has recently been the team's Director of Player Personnel.

"He's running the ship and it's business as usual," Spanos said. "In the personnel department, there's a lot of things going on, more particularly on the college side right now of course.

"We're finishing up the college season, scouting and then we got All-Star games to get ready for, there's a series of meetings," Spanos added. "He's running all that. Business as usual."

As for the final three games, Spanos said the team has no interest in ending up with a top-10 draft pick, which the Bolts currently have.

"I can tell you what our family's message to Giff was," Spanos said. "Let's go win and compete and try to win these next three games.

"We're not worried about getting a high draft pick. Let's go win these next three games," Spanos added. "That's our hope and our desire."

The Bolts host the Bills on Saturday at 5 p.m. (PT) in Week 15.

Bolt Up!

Secure your Chargers Mini Plan today! Click here to learn more.

Related Content

From Our Partners