The 2018 season doesn't begin the moment the ball is kicked off Week 1 this September.
It doesn't start when the entire team convenes for training camp at the end of July.
It begins Monday when the Bolts return to Hoag Performance Center to commence Phase I of the team's voluntary offseason program. The first two weeks of the team's program are limited to only strength and conditioning, as well as physical rehabilitation, but they mark the beginning of the Chargers' 2018 journey.
"This gets you excited for the season," General Manager Tom Telesco said. "Once the players come in and start working, it finally feels like we're on to 2018. This is important for the players. Whether you are a high school player, college player or NFL player, the offseason is critical to your development. This is such a critical time of year for every football player. All the deposits you make now, you'll see dividends in August and then in the fall."
With the players set to arrive in a matter of hours, Head Coach Anthony Lynn discussed his expectations. He also outlined what his message will be the first time he addresses the team.
"First off, we want to build to get in great shape," he said. "Like I tell the guys, that's a competitive advantage. It doesn't take a lot of talent to be the best in-shape team. That takes effort and attitude. That's the objective. But also, this is the time of year (where) I want each guy to work on their individual technique and fundamentals. The coaches will go over the tape with them and go over exactly what it is they want to accomplish with them this offseason. We won't get everything done. We're not focusing on them being a jack of all trades, but a master of something. This is the perfect time to slow down and work on these fundamentals and techniques. That's absolutely what my message (will be)."
The man at the heart of Phase I is Strength and Conditioning Coach John Lott, who made a tangible impact on the Chargers last year during his first season with the team. As a result, the Bolts are eager to have him get back to work in year two.
"John Lott did a heck of a job last year," Lynn said. "I'm telling him that right now, he's the head coach. He has his plan, and we've all had input on his plan. He's got those players, and those guys respect John and the job that he's done. The results we had (improving) injuries, a lot of it is what he did training. John is really transparent, and he's vocal. I like that about him. There's not one guy in this league I'd rather have down there carrying out our message than John Lott. I know they respect him. They may not always like him, but they respect him."
Telesco echoed those very same sentiments.
"I love Coach Lott's energy and enthusiasm," he said. "He works those players hard, but as much as you can make it enjoyable, he does. Last year was a completely different approach to strength and conditioning, and the players really responded to him. Every strength and conditioning coach is going to be a little bit different in his approach, and John coming in here was different. What I liked the best was that everyone responded to him. From the young guys to the older veterans to everyone in the middle. It wasn't just one group or smaller groups; everybody really bought into it. I think we saw the results last year. John has done a really good job for us."
Meanwhile, the GM emphasized that while this is an important time of year for the entire team, there is a subsection of players for whom it is particularly vital.
"This is really important for those second and third year players. Now they know the scheme so they can really put a lot of focus into technique and fundamentals to get an edge when it comes to preparation for their game. That's opposed to having all of that plus learning the scheme. That's why sometimes for rookies, it's information overload as they have a lot on their plate early on."