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Why Joining the Bolts was a 'No-Brainer' for Hayden Hurst

Hurst 04.03

Hayden Hurst didn't have to think much about deciding to join the Bolts.

"For me, it was kind of a no-brainer to come here," Hurst said Tuesday when he met with reporters for the first time since signing with the Bolts in free agency.

Hurst, the No. 25 overall pick by the Ravens in 2018, pointed to the familiar offensive scheme as one of the reasons he was eager to join the Bolts in 2024.

Add in a couple familiar faces in the building, and the decision was easy for the new Chargers tight end.

"[Chargers General Manager] Joe Hortiz, [Chargers Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman], [Run Game Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach] Andy [Bischoff], getting back into the Harbaugh system — that's who drafted me and brought me into the league, gave me my first opportunity," Hurst said.

"It's a lot of broad strokes from the Baltimore days — 2018-19, when I was there," Hurst later added. "They're reliant upon their tight ends, the receivers have to get open. It's going to be a hell of a run game. It's just cool seeing that playbook pop up there, familiar words, just kind of getting back to my roots."

Hurst saw firsthand how dominant the ground game could be in his lone season under Roman in Baltimore.

The Ravens offense was impressive in all facets during the 2019 season and set an NFL record with 3,296 rushing yards in Roman's first year as a the play caller.

It would be much of the same on the ground during his tenure as the unit finished in the top three in the league in rushing yards per game in each of Roman's four seasons, including first in his first two seasons.

"You have to be solid up front," Hurst said about Roman's run game. "You have to have smart guys all across the board — tight ends, offensive linemen, running backs. I think the most important part has just been that wherever he's been, it's just been a collective effort.

"When I was in Baltimore, those were two of the closest teams that I've ever been on, just guys fighting for one another," Hurst continued. "It's not that individualized stuff like you see in the NFL, it's really a family. It's a family.

"It's what I signed up for, playing for the guy next to me, giving it my all to make sure that he gets his job done," Hurst added. "It's just a collective effort. I think that's the beauty of it."

And he knows just how valuable and important the tight end position is for what the offense will want to do going forward.

"You have to be able to do everything," Hurst said about tight ends in the scheme. "Obviously, besides quarterback, I think that tight end, in this offense, probably has the most on their plate with run game protection stuff and pass game stuff.

"You have to be on your P's and Q's," Hurst added. "From what I know of Andy and G-Ro, there's not going to be specialized stuff, you have to be able to do everything. You have to be a well-rounded tight end in this offense."

Check out some photos of the Chargers first Phase 1 workout of the 2024 off-season program

Although it's the first time Hurst has ever played on a team coached by Jim Harbaugh, he feels like he has some familiarity to the family's coaching philosophy.

The tight end began his NFL career with John Harbaugh and now continues his football journey with the younger Harbaugh on the Bolts.

He described the two brothers as "very similar" in terms of their approach to the game and expressed his excitement to work under his new head coach, as he has left an impression on him from the very first phone call the two shared.

"He's just very positive," Hurst said of Jim Harbaugh. "A lot of coaches make this about themselves and their egos get in the way. But with him, he just wants to win, and he wants the guys to get better. He wants guys to get healthy. He wants guys to have success.

"Even in meetings, I've met him over the phone, but just seeing him in-person, how eccentric he is in meetings — he's getting up, he's showing guys how to do stuff. It just makes it fun because I think we all know that this can be a really, really long season if you don't have the right people in place, it can kind of drag along," Hurst added. "But, if you have a guy like that in the building who's just enthusiastic about football and wants to win, then that's infectious."

One thing clear to Hurst from the jump on Harbaugh's team?

The team wants to be one of the most physical teams in the NFL.

"100 percent," Hurst said. "You can read it word-for-word off the PowerPoints. It's the Harbaugh mentality.

"Like I said, I played for John in Baltimore for two years and it's the same sort of ideology," Hurst continued. "We want to out-physical teams, we want teams to fear us, we want teams to end up giving up in the fourth quarter, where we're just hitting our stride.

Hurst later added: "When you see us pop up on the schedule, it's going to be a long Sunday."

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