Here's what Justin Herbert, Derwin James, Mike Williams, and others had to say on Monday as they reflected on the 2021 season and looked ahead to what the future holds.
Quarterback Justin Herbert on his takeaways 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 continuity heading into next season
"I think we'll be able to build off of all the things that we did this season. There were some really good things and there were some not-so-great things. It's up to us to build off of those good things and correct those mistakes. To have a full year of film to look at and to get better from that, we have this year-long of work that we're able to analyze and go over this offseason, heading into next year, where we're more comfortable with the offense. I think that stuff will only help us."
Herbert on if this season was a 'building block'
"I think you have to look at it that way. It's unfortunate that we didn't make the playoffs. That's the ultimate goal of the NFL, but the way that everyone battled and they worked so hard this year, there's a lot of good things that have happened this year. It's unfortunate that it didn't go the way that we wanted it to, but I'd fight with those guys every day of the week."
Wide receiver Keenan Allen on the first season with the coaching staff
"I thought it was good. I thought the culture has changed. I think we're transitioning into a winning organization, getting back to winning the division and stuff like that. I think we're trending in that direction. [Head Coach Brandon Staley] is building a lot of confidence in the culture and the coaching staff. We just have to be ready and do better next year."
Allen on what stood out to him about Herbert and where his game can grow
"I think his huddle control, being able to call the plays with control. Understanding what he's saying. Understanding what we're calling, what we're running. Just having full control of the offense. I think next year he'll be able to do it more. He'll be able to understand what we're doing more. Obviously, it's the first year. He'll be more and more comfortable."
OLB Joey Bosa: 'I see a very bright future'
"Obviously, it was a huge devastation after that tough game — tough-fought game, but we did go out fighting. You have to be proud of everybody on our team. I mean, we really gave it our all out there, which is what you ask for out there. It's great to see everybody fighting and clawing to the last minute out there. I'm upset, of course, but I still look to the future and I see a very bright future with a lot of young talent. I see a group that was in their first year in a system — it's a pretty complex system. It's going to take a while to master. The fact that we had the year that we did, which was a pretty successful year in my books, I'm pretty happy with it."
Bosa on the improvements he can make this offseason
"I'm going to definitely do my best to have a really good offseason this year. In my mind, I think my best year is to come next year. I want to have a really good offseason. I think I learned a lot this year about my game. I'm happy with the production that I had, getting those forced fumbles is good. I'm happy that I'm moving in the right direction on that front. It's a new system, like I said, so I have to keep getting better in the two-point [stance]. I think I need to be more aggressive coming off the ball in a two-point stance in the run. I could be better in the run and definitely in some areas. I just have to keep improving. I'm happy I made it feeling alright. I'm happy I was able to have some production."
Running back Austin Ekeler on scoring 20 touchdowns this season and building off of that milestone
"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."
Safety Derwin James Jr. on building upon 2021
"I feel like we have a lot of great pieces. If you look around at every position, we had guys break records — had a quarterback throw for 5,000 yards, had two receivers over 1,000 yards, Ek [RB Austin Ekeler] had 20 touchdowns. There are a lot of great players that we have around here and a lot to build around. I can't wait for us to come back stronger next year."
James Jr. on getting more comfortable with the defense next season
"I feel like I achieved a lot. Just want to say, 'Thank you,' to everybody who made that this possible, helping me get back home. I feel like next season is going to be an even better season. I'm getting comfortable in this defense. I feel like we're going to make even more plays next year, just being in this defense for another year."
DL Justin Jones on feeling like a 'family' this season
"I can say now this is probably one of the best teams I have been ever a part of — that's including my career in football. The guys on the team, the coaching staff, I was just telling my D-line coach, 'Everybody talks about the business side of football, but those who really truly enjoy football, they don't see it as just football.' I see it as family. These guys are my family. Whether I'm here, or whether I'm somewhere else, these guys will always be my family. I've never had anything like this."
OLB Uchenna Nwosu on his performance season
"I feel like starting off the year, I started off pretty slow. I didn't start off the way I wanted to. I definitely left a lot of things out there that I wish I had back, but as the season continued to go on I felt like I was able to step up for my team. Be more comfortable and played more to my strengths and I'm proud of what I was able to put out there. Like I said, there are things that I would like back, but I am proud of what I did. Hopefully, I can keep building off of it and hopefully people try to recognize it, that I'm capable of doing more."
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 looking forward to the Pro Bowl
"[I] think it'll be a really cool experience. I'm always huge on picking the brains of other guys so to be around some of the guys there will be beneficial to me. Just learning how they approach the game, some things about their technique, and seeing how they prepare and stuff like that. It'll be a really cool experience, which I'm looking forward to."
Wide receiver Mike Williams on his journey in the NFL
"It's been fun. I feel like I've gotten better and better every year. Every year, I try to find something to get better at in my game to make my game better. I feel like year-in and year-out, I've been doing that. This offseason, I'll try to get better so that we won't be in this position, just try to help my team win ball games; that's the main thing. Get better, better my game, and come out and be a better player next year."
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