Take a look at top quotes from Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco's year-end press conference on Thursday:
General Manager Tom Telesco
"Disappointing end to the season, obviously, losing in the playoffs. 10-7 going into the playoffs, feeling pretty good that we can make a run. To lose in the opening week — any playoff loss is painful, but losing in the first round is difficult. Then, the manner in which we lost, just stings a little bit more. The only thing worse than a loss is when you have that feeling that you let people down. We have around 200 people in this organization, football and non-football, and we're all representing them on the field. We just didn't play our best when the best was needed, especially in the second half.
"Our fan base, they're dying for a championship, just like we are, so you have that little feeling of letting people down. I will say this, our current team of players and our coaches, they are really mentally tough people, and that's not by accident, that's intentional. Those are the type of people that we bring in here. It's important to us because you have to be able to withstand these types of situations, especially leading into an offseason. That's what we're going to work on this offseason. We're going to lick our wounds a little bit here, and then rise and fight again. We have a whole offseason to figure out how we're going to do that.
"Any playoff loss is tough. I've been through these before — I've lost a Super Bowl before — it feels awful. You think that you have a chance to go [to the Super Bowl], and we just didn't get there. With that, I'll open it up."
On improving the rushing offense:
"We're going to probably have a new vision and approach on offense, that's one way to go at it. We'll always be a passing team. We have [QB] Justin Herbert, we like to throw the ball. We're never going to be a 50-50 balanced team of run and pass, but you have to be able to run the football efficiently and effectively, especially in the second-half of games where you have leads. We were unable to do that this year. If you look at where our rushing numbers will be — like I said, they're never going to be high rushing numbers, as far as terms of yards — but yards per carry should be better. Two years ago, our yards per carry were pretty good, top-10 in the league. This year, almost toward the bottom. Obviously, that's a big thing. We're going to look at it in the offseason because that has to be better to be a good playoff team."
On the defense:
"The positive is that I thought we played well down the stretch. I think you saw what the defense can get to. That was with an interior defensive line that really played well down the stretch, but it wasn't what our vision was going to be for what the inside was going to look like. Our vision on the edge didn't quite get there because Joey [Bosa] was hurt most of the year. I thought our secondary played really well. I saw that most of the year. I thought we gave up some explosive plays. We have to fix that, but we were competitive on the football. We challenged a lot of routes. I thought the inside linebackers played really well. I saw some really nice development there. My expectation is that, when we hit training camp, we're going to hit the ground running this year. I did feel last year with that many new faces on defense that there would be a transition period, it was going to take some time. It took a little longer into the season that I would have liked. For whatever reason, we had some guys down, whatever, it doesn't really matter. We saw it towards the end, what it can get to. I just think this offseason, once we hit training camp, we should, hopefully, hit the ground running with that group."
On OL Jamaree Salyer:
"He saved us this year. I wish that I could say that I was smart enough to say we were going to draft him to play guard but that he could go play left tackle if [T] Rashawn [Slater] gets hurt, and play really good football. That wasn't the case. He played tackle in college. That's the one benefit when you draft a tackle in college that you really see as a guard, you always know, 'Hey, look. We could put him out there if we had to,' because he has experience doing it. He played guard most of training camp. He really played guard most of the beginning of the regular season, maybe a little bit of snaps at tackle. I give our coaches great credit and [Head Coach] Brandon [Staley] great credit for not flinching at all and saying, 'Look, this is what we have. We could make a lot of different moves on the offensive line, or we could make one move and put Jamaree out there. I know we've only seen him do it in college, but he did it at a high level in the SEC, let's take a look at it.' Jamaree never flinched. He has great poise and balance, and patience at that position. I think a lot of that is because he played it a lot at the college level and played at a pretty high level. He played really efficient football for us at a critical position. As you move into next year, as good as Jamaree played, I feel pretty comfortable that Rashawn Slater will be our left tackle, but we'll figure out what the best role for Jamaree is. It's a negative when a player gets hurt. The one little positive is other players getting an opportunity and now, we know what he can do, rather than thinking he can do something. It will give us some flexibility. Do we see him at a guard or a tackle for next year? I don't know yet, to be honest with you. I'm not sure."
On what QB Justin Herbert means to the organization:
"I sleep better at night knowing we have a franchise quarterback, that's No. 1. He's done so much already in his young career, yet we all know there's still a lot there because of his commitment to the game. He's a perfectionist and how much he does in preparation for his job. What I've been around, all the great quarterbacks have that, as far as what they do in the building to prepare for the next opponent and the amount of work into it. Then, combine that with his physical ability. We're extremely lucky to have him. We're going to just kind of keep building around him, build him a defense to get him the ball back and go from there."
On Herbert going through adversity this season:
"Adversity is a great teacher for anybody, especially at that position. His mentality, when talking about mental toughness and how he handled situations — if you're a player in the huddle and you're looking at Justin Herbert, there's no fear in his eyes, there's no flinch. That's what great leaders have. Sometimes, it does take some development to get there, to kind of go through those different battles and those different wars and see the success that you can have. That's the type of guy you want in your huddle when you're moving the ball down the field."
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On Herbert's growth as a leader:
"He has grown as a leader. He was a leader in college, so it's not like he wasn't a leader then. I am sure he was a leader in high school. I don't go back that far with him, but I know he was a leader at Oregon. When you are a quarterback, especially a starting quarterback as a rookie in this league and you are in a locker room with a bunch of adults — 30-year-olds, 32-year-olds with kids — sometimes, it is hard as a 22-year-old to walk right in and just take command of the locker room. I saw the same thing with [former Colts QB] Andrew Luck when he was with us in Indianapolis. You do kind of grow into that leadership role as you get older, just like Drue Tranquill did. Drue did not walk into our locker room as a rookie and take it over. He was a young player. You do see that growth among these players as they mature and get older. I think we have seen that with Justin [Herbert]. Everybody leads in a different way. If I know one thing, our players, front office, coaches, we believe in him 100 percent. We know that if we just get him the ball at the end of the game, we have a chance to win."
On 'preventing' Saturday's loss to the Jaguars from 'being a hangover into next season':
"I think it's all about the people that you have here and the mentality that you have. It's really cliché-ish to say that this will motivate us in the offseason, but I am not going to forget about it. That's kind of what I am made up. I probably not going let anybody in the building forget about it. If you have that fighter mentality, that is kind of the way that you are built. One really good way to not lose a lead like that is to run the ball better in the second half. It's not like that is something that we just learned automatically. Being able to run the ball better in the second half and get off the field at least once in the second half on defense and make a kick, stuff that we already knew. Myself, I don't really dwell on those negative parts. Brandon [Staley] and myself, as the leaders here, that's our job is to make sure everybody has the right mindset. When somebody doesn't have that mindset, then we may need to find them a different home somewhere."
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