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Joey Bosa: Recharged
No. 97 enters season 7 as a self-proclaimed “old head;” older, wiser, and grateful. Grateful for his teammates and not taking anything for granted.
By Hayley Elwood Sep 06, 2022

Last week, I sat down with Joey Bosa to ask him a few questions for a season preview article for the Chargers' Gameday Magazine.

But those "few questions" turned into a full-blown conversation that lasted 12-plus minutes.

Long story short, it was too good not to share.

As one of the most candid players on the team, Bosa's not afraid to confront the past and be open about what lies ahead. No. 97 enters season 7 as a self-proclaimed "old head;" older, wiser, and grateful. Grateful for his teammates and not taking anything for granted.

So with that said, Bosa gave such great answers that with the 2022 season upon us, we'll be checking in with Chargers players throughout the year.

And lucky for us, he kicks this one off.

What did you learn about this team last season?

Bosa: I learned that resilience is one thing, but it shows how much goes into winning a game beyond talent and beyond the pieces. I think with time as we're together longer, and we're building a connection, the talent comes together as one and we'll become more of a team and are able to pull through in those close situations. Yeah, we did in a few [games], but in a few others we didn't.

I also learned watching the playoffs that it's really anyone's game once you get in there. So, I think we have just as good of an opportunity as anyone else, that's for sure. I think it's just about getting into the dance and executing at that time of the year.

But shoot, we're getting closer. I'm closer to my teammates than I've ever been.

What makes you say that?

Bosa: I think personally for me, just opening up more and trying to build relationships. Whereas before, I would kind of just either rush home or keep to myself, except for a few people. Now, I'm the old head who has no filter anymore. I dunno, I open up easier and obviously when you open up, other people open up, and that's when the relationship kind of starts forming and you get closer.

But I think the additions of the D-linemen who came in and Khalil [Mack] it feels like they've been here. It's kind of hard to think they weren't here last year because it feels like we're together already.


You've been on a lot of different Chargers teams, is it weird that you and Keenan [Allen] are the two longest-tenured drafted Chargers left?

Bosa: The only ones. And [outside linebackers coach] Giff [Smith]!

And Giff!

Bosa: Yeah, it's funny to think just how many people have come and gone in that time. Coach put up the number – whatever it was – 1,000 or however many thousand players there are on 53-man rosters and to see how many of those have cycled through the years and I'm still standing strong.

It's tough with cuts. E [Emeke Egbule] is a good buddy of mine and he just got let go. It hurts. Chenna [Uchenna Nwosu] left, but it's good to see him get his contract and go play. It changes fast and you don't really know how long you're gonna have an opportunity to be a team so, I don't take it for granted, that's the lesson I can learn from that.

When it comes to these new pieces, what does that say to you about the team making this push?

Bosa: They had some spending room, which was nice! A rookie quarterback contract is good, at least that's what I hear! *laughs* But with [head coach Brandon] Staley coming in, things have just gotten a little more serious.

Every year, we've had pieces and this and that, but I think it's finally time where we feel like we can make a push. Those kinds of periods don't last for that long. Every team is up and down. There aren't too many dynasties where teams are staying together and playing for 10 years at a time or whatever. I think it says a lot and it shows how serious they are about winning.

The additions are great. And not just bringing in good players, but bringing in vets and leaders to bring this team along. Bash [Sebastian Joseph Day] just won a Super Bowl. These guys have all been on teams and they're vets and I feel like it's important to have guys who know what it takes deep in the season to get where you want to go. Making the right moves.


How would you describe this defense?

Bosa: Exciting. I just hope we can all stay healthy and keep all the pieces on the field. We'll see, it's hard to know yet. But just having Khalil is a huge thing for me.

You talked a bit about how he reminded you of Brandon Mebane. Does he still?

Bosa: Yeah, he does in some ways but I think that was the surface level impression and the way he talks. Definitely smooth!

But just to be able to chop it up with him and ask him questions whether it's about football [or life]. Like we were just out there [on the field] and I said, 'Oh, I just tried this [move].' And he said, 'Oh, I just tried this!'

Mel [Melvin Ingram] was great like that, but I just think Khalil is really on top of his work and always trying to learn and get better in those aspects. Whereas I think Mel had his bag of moves he was really, really good at and he just stuck to it. So I think me bouncing off the ideas with Khalil has been huge.

I know you said with Khalil, if he was around earlier in your career, you probably would have felt threatened but it's different now.

Still feel it's different now?

Bosa: I never feel that way now, whereas before, I feel like I'd see somebody [of his talent level] and just me, I'm very like self-conscious about it and always judgmental.

Is getting away from that just part of getting older?

Bosa: Yeah, for sure. I think it's part of learning as you get older and going through it and understanding that not every tiny little thing matters all the time.

Like if one of my teammates did something, I'd think, 'Oh shoot, can I do that? Ooh, That looked good.' I've already put all the things I do on tape and it's not worth getting caught up in all those little details [and instead] where you can look at it and go, 'Oh, that's a good move, I can learn from that,' instead of getting defensive about things.

I think early on if Kahlil would have come in, I didn't have as much confidence in myself which is where all of it probably comes from. Who knows, it probably would have ended up being good for me to have that challenge, but he's the kind of guy who I'd look at [when I was younger] and watch his film or watch in a game and go, 'Come on, get blocked!' And then he'd go and destroy the tackle, get a strip sack, and I'd be like, 'I can't compete with that!'

I just think I've proved to myself that I can, and I've also gotten older and who cares if I'm not as good as him in some aspects. We're all our own kind of players.

Looking at the offense, from your perspective looking at Justin Herbert and that unit, how much of a benefit is it to watch them in games be able to put up points?

Bosa: With Justin, we'll find a way to win.

S--t was wild [early in my career]. We'd get up, but then block a punt or miss a field goal, or this and that [would happen,] but it's a whole team [game]. You can't blame one play here or there.

But having confidence as a defense I think gives you more energy to go out there and play. But it all has to come together so we'll see.

I know you talked about health, but to close this out, what else is the key for this to all come together?

Bosa: The key is usually health! Early on, my first few years, the injuries were just ridiculous:


Keenan Allen [tore ACL in Week 1 vs KC]

Danny Woodhead [tore ACL in Week 2 vs JAX]

Manti Te'o [tore Achilles in Week 3 vs IND]

I wasn't playing yet, but that was my rookie year.

For me I know, I always hit this wall and it's such a long season when you question reality – question like, everything – and I feel like if you have a strong enough team and people around you, we can all pull ourselves through that together; especially when you're winning, and you have each other to lean on.

I'm feeling better mentally so I think that has a lot to do with the wall, it's not always a physical wall. Honestly, it's probably harder to get over a mental wall than a physical wall because if you're feeling good, you'll just push through it. But if you don't, it's like, what's the point?

But I think that's [another] huge key, is to all be together, stay positive, because once you hit that game 12 or game 13 it's like oof, you gotta dig deep. I think it's important to have people to be able to lean on in that situation which I think we have.

And then obviously trying to do our best to stay healthy but do all we can to prevent what we can.

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