The Bolts ended the 2021-22 season with the fourth ranked offense in the NFL with 58 total touchdowns. Here's what Brandon Staley, Justin Herbert and others had to say about the offense this season.
Quarterback Justin Herbert on his takeaway from the season
"A lot of growth. I thought we got a lot better as a team. Unfortunately, we fell short; we didn't make playoffs. That's the ultimate goal of this league, of this organization. For us, it's going to be an important offseason of working together, going into Year 2 with [Head] Coach [Brandon] Staley and [Offensive Coordinator] Joe Lombardi and this whole organization because I know that we have the talent, it's just all about going out there and executing."
Herbert on wide receiver Mike Williams
"Mike's a special player. I knew, as soon as I got here, how gifted he was, and what he's able to do with the 50/50 balls. I don't think he gets enough credit for the routes that he runs and the separation. He does such a great job in practice, in games, in the meeting room and in the weight room. He's a really good teammate."
Herbert on where he felt he improved most this season
"I thought footwork was one of those things that we really worked hard on this offseason and got better at. [Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach] Shane Day, [QB] Easton Stick, [Offensive Quality Control] Chandler Whitmer, that quarterback room, we put a lot of work into that. I felt more comfortable in the pocket, finding check-downs and extending plays. Along those lines and just continuing to work on that because you can always get better at it."
Head coach Brandon Staley on creating a scheme around Herbert
"Being able to create a system for him that not only featured his game but the game of our skill players, because it has to work hand in hand — -you have to be able to create a system that works for [WR] Keenan [Allen], [WR] Mike [Williams], [WR] Joshua Palmer, [TE] Jared Cook and [RB] Austin Ekeler, maximizing your play-makers — and I feel like we were able to do both things; make sure that the strengths of Justin's game are featured and that it can grow in a sequence where you don't give him too much too soon, or you don't give him enough.
"We have a system that really challenged him, I talked about that. I felt like whether it was the way we played from the shotgun in the RPO game, getting him on the move in the keeper, play [-action] pass game — in terms of protections, how much we put on him, being able to onboard Corey Linsley to make sure that he was ready for that in time — I feel like what we did was we created a structure that allowed him to throw for 5,000 yards and set franchise records throwing the football, and being one of the elite players in the game."
Staley on Herbert improving this season
"I feel like he just improved so much as a player throughout the season. From the beginning of the springtime to that last game, where he improved as a player just are two different places. I'm so proud of him because of how much he invested in his game. I'm so proud of [Offensive Coordinator] Joe [Lombardi], [Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach] Shane [Day] and our offensive staff because it was a team effort. Justin was certainly at the center of it — and you guys all saw the other night and all season long — but it was because we had a team offense playing around. We had career years for so many guys and I think that speaks to what you talked about in creating a system for him."
Staley on Austin Ekeler's 20 touchdown season
"He had a career season. I'm really proud of how we maximized his role. We had a vision for how he was going to play. I feel like it was a fight to find that second and third back, and a lot of it had to do, in the run game, is who is offensive line and who are our tight ends blocking? I feel like once we got that sort of solidified in the second half of the season, knowing who the right side of our line was going to be, [TE] Tre' McKitty's emergence as a tight end in the run game, I feel like that all contributed to us being a much more consistently productive running team. I feel like that allowed us to be a complete offense in the second half of the season and it forced people to defend a lot more."
Staley on the Bolts passing game this season
"I felt like our passing game featured our players. We have a lot of really big-time players. We have two of the feature receivers in the league. They both had career years. [WR] Keenan [Allen] had 106 catches. [WR] Mike [Williams] had 76 catches, nine touchdowns. Those guys had career seasons, 15 touchdowns between them. You had Josh [WR Joshua Palmer] and [WR] Jalen [Guyton] play really good complementary roles. You maximized three tight ends to get you a lot of production. Then, your running back had 20 touchdowns, eight receiving. So, I feel like [Offensive Coordinator] Joe [Lombardi] and our offensive staff did a fantastic job maximizing this group. I'm so proud of our staff."
Wide receiver Keenan Allen on the offense's balance
"I thought it was a good balance. Everybody kind of touched the ball — [RB] Austin Ekeler, [TE] Jared Cook, [WR] Mike Williams. We both had 1,000 [yards]. Ekeler went crazy and had a lot of touchdowns, receiving yards out of the backfield. Everybody played a part. I think hats off to [QB] Justin [Herbert] being able to get everybody involved and the coaching staff being able to create the schemes to allow Justin to make those plays. I thought we did a good job."
Allen on Williams' season
"Mike has been phenomenal all season. I've been saying that he's our big-play guy, our big-money guy. He makes the plays when it's time to be made. He did it all season, for the money. This was definitely for the money for him. He stayed healthy. He was able to play and made big plays all the way through. He did more than he's ever done, so hats off to Mike."
Running back Austin Ekeler on his mindset building off his 20 touchdown season
"Just keep working. Keep working. Keep working. That's how I was raised and that's what has stayed with me to this point. That's what has gotten me all the way up to be able to even score 20 touchdowns in the NFL and lead the league in scoring. It's been a journey and I appreciate the question. Looking back, I can look back on it now because the season is over, it's like — man, that's something I want to build on for next year, right? Now, that's the new milestone. I want to build on that. It's definitely been a really, really incredible time and really assuring for me, as far as this work that I'm putting in is paying off."
Ekeler on playing alongside Herbert this year
"I'm like, 'Yeah. That guy makes me want to play forever around him,' because he's a guy that, man, you just believe. If we're on the field, we have a chance to go score and we have J-Herb as quarterback and a great O-line that has been protecting him? Like, wow, this is something special. We have a chance. We're going to go get it done. I'm looking forward to coming and being his backfield buddy for as long as I can. I know that he's going to be a great player and I want to be a part of that for as long as I can."
Tackle Rashawn Slater on 'how good he thinks he can be'
"As good as I want to be. I feel like, the biggest limitation is always competing against yourself. I feel like I can build a lot off of this season and that's going to be my challenge. If you rest of what happened in the past, then you're doomed to fail. This season is out the window and I'm going to be searching for ways that I can get better and I know there are a lot of ways I can. I'll just be taking it one step at a time."
Slater on Justin Herbert
"He's everything I thought he would be and more. You see it like [against the Raiders in Week 18]. Are you kidding me? The things he's able to do is just unbelievable. There is never a situation were in where we feel like were out...I don't think anyone for a second lost hope just because we know who we have. We know, as the O-line, if we give him time, or even if we don't give him time, he's going to do some freakish things. It's awesome to be able to play with a guy like that who competes hard every week. It's such a huge blessing, honestly."
Wide receiver Mike Williams on Herbert's ability to make big plays against the Raiders
"It was big. There were a lot of fourth downs, long fourth downs at that. A lot of situations that we were put in that we needed a play to be made. He made some throws that I felt like a lot of quarterbacks can't make. He trusted us to go make the plays. That was the main thing, I feel that we had trust in everybody to go out there and make plays — it didn't matter who he was throwing the ball to. J.G. [WR Jalen Guyton] and [WR] Josh [Palmer] had some big plays. I think Josh's touchdown was on a fourth down, too, right? Yeah, that's crazy. Everybody was just showing up, making plays, just trying to give us a chance to win."
Williams on Staley's 'vision' for him heading into this season
"The first time that I talked to Coach Staley, he was saying how in the past, playing against me, they wanted to take the deep ball away because they noticed that I wasn't catching many short passes. He said that he wanted to flip the script and get me a lot of in-breaks, a lot of slants, a lot of smokes, to get the ball in my hands. I'm a big body, physical receiver, so I feel like I can play with the ball in my hands and make plays like that. That's what he kind of wanted to do this year, flip the script by not just, necessarily, be a deep threat, but get the ball in the intermediate area and make plays like that."
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