It's been a difficult time for everyone associated with the Chargers over the past few days.
And yes, while there are mixed feelings right now, the prevailing mood is one of disappointment because nobody expected the Bolts to be 5-9 at this point in the season.
Chargers Interim Head Coach Giff Smith and numerous Chargers players spoke to reporters Tuesday and expressed exactly that.
"Obviously, disappointment with the way that Thursday went down and the failure of not being able to help Brandon be successful here," Smith said.
Derwin James, Jr. added: "It definitely was sad because when you're going through something with somebody for three years, it's tough. You always think about the good times you had. We always want to get it right, but we didn't get it right the time we were here."
Easton Stick said: "It's been a tough few days, for sure, for all of us and for a lot of different reasons. Thursday, obviously, we were embarrassed. That's tough to get over, that lingers. Then, obviously, the moves that were made the next morning are tough. You put a lot into this, you put everything into this. So, when it doesn't go well, I certainly feel responsible. I know that all of our guys do. It means that everybody failed, and that part sucks because those guys mean a lot to us, they were all in with us."
Those three quotes pretty much sum up what the past week or so has been like around here.
And, even if you agree with the decision that the Spanos family made, there is also a human element of this and you certainly have to feel for both Staley and Telesco. Both men poured everything that had into the powder blues.
John Spanos, the Chargers President of Football Operations, said as much Monday when he spoke to reporters and said how much respect and admiration he has for both men both personally and professionally.
I can echo that sentiment, too.
Both Staley and Telesco were exceptionally welcoming to me when I first arrived last June and were awesome to work with.
And while they certainly helped me out with content ideas when needed, some of our chats were simply about our families and life outside of football.
I will miss them both and hope they each have bright futures in the NFL.
On the other side of that coin — and this is where the mixed feelings come in — you can't help but be excited for Smith in his new role.
Smith is as well-respected as anyone in this building and will undoubtedly have the Bolts ready to compete hard in the final three games of the season.
The Chargers attention will soon shift to the upcoming general manager and head coaching searches but the focus now is on finishing the regular season strong and building for 2024.
Everything is on the table right now, especially this early in the search process, but it wouldn't be a surprise if Wooden is among the potential candidates for the Chargers vacant GM position.
Wooden has overseen both the Bolts pro and college scouting departments for over a decade. And, like Smith, he's one of the most well-liked people within the organization.
Wooden will get a bit of a trial run over the next few weeks and into the early part of the offseason as the Chargers transition into free agency and draft mode after the new year.
Here's what Spanos said about Wooden on Monday:
"He's running the ship and it's business as usual. 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. He's running all that."
Wooden has interviewed for open GM jobs in the past. Again, it wouldn't be a surprise if he's on the upcoming list of interviewees for the Chargers.
An interesting question but one that I'm not really going to dive into.
First off, it's still way too early in the search process to actually have a list of names that the Chargers are considering.
And, if we're being honest here, my personal list of candidates holds zero weight in terms of what the Chargers will actually do.
It's not as if the Spanos family will come to me asking my preferences on this candidate or that candidate.
My job is to give you the best coverage possible of both the search and the eventual hires, and I plan on doing just that … even with a baby due in late January!
The only thing I'll offer on the search for now is that I expect the next GM and head coach to both have strong leadership at the forefront of their traits.
That's not to say that Staley and Telesco didn't have that, but I think leadership and building a culture might be at the top of the priority list in these searches.
What a timely question because I literally wrote about this topic Monday morning.
If you missed it, I highlighted five Chargers players to watch in the final stretch of the season.
If you want to read the full piece, click here.
I'm not going to spoil the entire thing, but I will highlight one player — running back Isaiah Spiller — that I did mention.
Here's what I wrote about Spiller:
Spiller has gotten more run in the backfield the past two weeks. Up until Week 14, he had played just 46 total offensive snaps, carrying the ball 12 times for 27 yards. But his usage has seen a noticeable uptick of late, as Spiller has tallied 22 carries for 69 yards in the past two games while playing 36 snaps. With Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley both slated to be free agents this offseason, Spiller has a chance to keep carving out a potential role for himself in 2024.
The final part of that blurb is what's most fascinating to me.
Ekeler and Kelley are both scheduled to be free agents, and with different voices at general manager and head coach in 2024, it's unknown if both or either of them return.
Either way, perhaps Spiller is in line for a bigger role in 2024 based on how things shake out in the running back room.
While he wasn't a game breaker, Spiller did show some juice in the past two games. After hardly playing in the first year and a half, Spiller has a chance to get into some sort of rhythm here in the final three games.
No, Easton Stick is still in line to start the final three games.
"No doubt. No question," Smith said Tuesday when asked about Stick's status.
Stick deserves that chance, especially with how hard he's worked behind the scenes for the past five seasons.
And if I'm being honest, he also deserves a chance to have a better outcome than what we saw Thursday night.
As for Grier, it never hurts to try and add players a team thinks has talent. He's a former third-round pick who has bounced around the league a bit, but perhaps the team saw an opportunity to add more talent to the roster, even in Week 15.
This is Justin Herbert's team. We all know that.
But trying to make the overall roster better, whether that's for this season or beyond, is something every team should always be striving for.
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