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How GM Joe Hortiz Knew the Bolts Were The Perfect Fit

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Joe Hortiz took to the podium Tuesday at Hoag Performance Center.

Below are three takeaways from Chargers General Manager's introductory press conference.

A new beginning

Joe Hortiz is ready for his new chapter.

The new Chargers General Manager spoke and answered questions for the first time Tuesday as a member of the Bolts in front of his family, members of the organization and the media.

Hortiz joins the Bolts after spending his entire career with the Ravens, starting as a personnel assistant in 1998. He continued to work all the way up to Director of Player Personnel, a position he held since 2019.

After 26 years in Baltimore, however, Hortiz explained that the time and opportunity felt right for Hortiz to move on and start a journey with a new team.

"I got done with the Zoom call [and told] my wife. I said, 'Baby, this is it. This is the fit. I want this job,'" Hortiz said.

It was a feeling Hortiz knew from the jump — this is where he wanted to be.

"In that Zoom call you hear about the longevity of the people in this organization," Hortiz said. "You hear about the love that they have for this organization, the commitment that they have to winning. I mean, a commitment to building a consistent winner.

"You hear that and then, when I came here on the interview, you feel it. You know it's true," Hortiz added. "You see it in who they hire. You know they're committed to winning. It makes it easy to go from one great organization to another organization that you believe is going to be great. I believe it."

Hortiz knows the work has just began in working towards the ultimate goal.

And he's fired up to get started as the GM of the Bolts.

"There's talent on this field. They know how to draft players here," Hortiz said. "They've drafted some really talented players. We've played them. We've lost to them in playoff games. We've beaten them in tough, hard-fought games.

"Our goal is to just build it bigger, better and strong," Hortiz added. "We want people to walk in here, teams to walk into the stadium knowing they've played us."

Get a behind-the-scenes look as Joe Hortiz is formally introduced as the general manager of the Los Angeles Chargers on February 6th, 2024

Mapping out the next steps

The work hasn't stopped for Hortiz since joining the Bolts.

The general manager has worked closely with Chargers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh from the jump, as the two have continued to work on assembling the team's coaching staff.

Harbaugh talked about it during his introductory press conference and Hortiz echoed the same sentiment Tuesday — the work has been nonstop to bring the staff together.

"I anticipate that being done relatively soon," Hortiz said about the staff. "We've done a lot of work over the past five days.

"I got finalized, I think, on Tuesday — I believe it was Tuesday. I'm on the phone with them on Wednesday before I flew out here," Hortiz added. "I jumped right into the deep end. Every once in a while, I'd crawl over to the wall and catch my breath, and then get back over.

It's something at the top of the priority list right now, and Hortiz anticipates it will be done sooner rather than later.

"We've been working nonstop all weekend, talking to a ton of coaches," Hortiz said. "I think we're getting close. We'll probably be making some announcements, I would say, in the next couple of days or so."

Filling out the staff is the next step before the offseason continues to ramp up, but it's an important part for Hortiz as the they head into the next phase of the offseason.

When the staff gets settled, it'll be a collaborative effort in determining the next steps heading into the NFL Scouting Combine and ultimately free agency.

"We're working on filling out the coaching staff and finalizing that, making those hires. That's out main priority right now," Hortiz said. "Once we get our coaching staff settled, we're going to sit down and grind through it, as a staff. Then, we'll make decisions going from there. But, certainly, there's some work to do, but it's not unattainable."

"It's going to take some work, but, again, we have smart guys in those roles," Hortiz said. "[Executive Vice President of Football Administration/Player Finance] Ed [McGuire] is a wizard. I know that. His reputation preceded him with me walking into the building, so I'll rely heavily on him with that."

But Hortiz knows the important traits the team will want to look for when evaluating players, and it's something that both he and Harbaugh share.

"Every position is different," Hortiz said. "Like you said, position specifics, critical factors — we want them all to be big, fast, tough, smart. Tough is key, you have to have that mentality.

"But then, part of the player, only 50 percent of the player is the talent and the skillset to play the position, the other 50 percent is the person," Hortiz continued. "We're going to dive deep into that. We want players that are committed to team. That's where I come from, that's where [Harbaugh] comes from, and that's what we're going to be here.

"It's the team, the team, the team. That's real," Hortiz added. "We want guys that have that mentality, to persevere, to fight — up 30 [points] or down 30, we're playing hard all the way to the end of the game. High-character people, players that care about each other, do the right thing. Those are things are going to be really important for us."

Working with the personnel department

As Hortiz continues to settle in, he's also had a chance to familiarize himself with some of the staff already on the team.

That includes Director of Player Personnel JoJo Wooden, who Hortiz will now work closely with on for the personnel side. Wooden has been with the Bolts since 2013 but also spent a lot of time prior with the Jets, where he started as a pro personnel assistant.

And as two people that have been in front offices for a long time, they've had many conversations while on the road over the years.

"It's been awesome," Hortiz said. "I've known JoJo — again, we've both been doing this a long time.

"[He's] been great, helping me through the transition," Hortiz later added. "Obviously, I'm jumping into a lot of different things, so I need the personnel side to keep running.

Hortiz has been in constant contact with Wooden and the rest of the personnel department since arriving as he now starts to build out his vision.

"They've all done a great job, had a great call with them [Monday]," Hortiz said. "I really enjoyed it, they had great questions.

"I have to translate, I come from a different process than they're used to — grading scales, the way that their calendar works," Hortiz added. "My job is to be the translator for them, in terms of what they do now and what we're going to do going forward."

On the scouting side of things, it will be a process that takes longer than it would compared to the coaching staff.

But as of now they continue to work together in Hortiz's transition to GM and it's something, he noted, will happen as offseason moves along.

"There's a little bit of a difference when change is made at those two respective positions, coaching and scouting," Hortiz said. "Our scouts here have done a great job through my transition here, and I know a good number of them.

"I'm going to evaluate our entire scouting staff," Hortiz continued. "There are people that I'd like to bring in — as soon as I can get them in, I'll get them in here — that will help me impart my vision on how we want to run our personnel department.

Hortiz added: "But, I certainly know that there are talented people already in this organization and I'm going to be able to evaluate them through the draft process, through the free agency process, and make decisions, as needed."

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