(News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Chargers are done for the season. And now the assessment of damage control begins. Head coach Brandon Staley as well as general manager Tom Telesco held separate day press conferences on what went right for the Chargers this past season and where the team can improve.
“When Joey [Bosa] got to Ohio State, that wasn’t there — Ohio State wasn’t always that way. I’m from Ohio. Things take time to build. When [former Ohio State Head Coach] Jim Tressel first got to Ohio State, his way wasn’t just engrained there,” Staley said about building a culture within the Chargers locker room.
“It took time for Tress to get it the way he wanted it like he had at Youngstown. When [former Ohio State Head Coach] Urban Meyer got there, there was a lot of good elements in place because of Tress. Things take some time. You have to see the tangible evidence that things are improving, which is what I think has happened here over the course of this season.”
The Chargers ended their season perhaps prematurely after absorbing a 31-30 defeat at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars during an AFC wild-card playoff game. Losing that game the way the Chargers lost will sting for a long time.
“I thought that it was a tight game,” Staley remarked. “I wouldn’t say that that was the case for a half. At the end of the game, that team that we were playing showed a lot of fight, a lot of resilience. I thought that it was a high-quality game between two teams that are both young and hungry. I thought that it was just a high-level game all of the way around. I think that Doug [Pederson] is an outstanding coach. I know that we were coaching at a high level. Hopefully, we’re going to get another chance at those guys.”
By now, most everyone knows that the Chargers had a 27-point lead over the Jaguars and coughed up that advantage when Jacksonville outscored Los Angeles 24-3 in the second half. The Chargers didn’t put a single point on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter against Jacksonville. As a result of their offensive and defensive woes in the second half, the Chargers wound up on the wrong side of Jacksonville’s historical comeback.
Losing that 27-point lead was the third-worst blown lead in NFL playoff history. With such a defeat going down, there has been widely fueled speculation about Staley’s future with the team. Some in the media have even called for Staley to be replaced. Staley’s not going anywhere any time soon, Telesco said about his second-year head coach.
“That was probably more your discussion than ours,” Telesco said in referencing the media’s outtake. “Our belief in Brandon [Staley] hasn’t changed. He has our belief; our players believe in him. You’ve been around him, he’s a tremendous leader, he’s detail-oriented and he’s a fighter. That’s the type of person that I want to be with me going to competition. I understand that the season didn’t end quite the way we liked it, but he has our whole support.”
During his presser, Staley sounded like he wasn’t going anywhere, nuking the prospect of him losing his job.
“I have a lot of confidence in the way that we’ve done things for two years,” Staley went on to say. “I have a lot of confidence in what I see on the football field, week in and week out. I know the type of improvements that we’ve been able to make, as a football team, since I’ve been here.
“I think that the way that we finished the season, the way that we finished down the stretch, shows you all of the things that we’re excited about moving forward. I know the culture that we have in our locker room, I know the quality of the product on the field, and I also know the capacity that we have to grow.”
Despite all the rainbows and unicorns talk, Telesco was nonetheless not too enthusiastic about how the Chargers ended their season.
“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,” remarked Telesco. “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.”
What was needed in that second half was a stronger presence in the run game to help extend drives. The Chargers rushed for a meek 67 yards in the game. The Chargers’ inability to run the football effectively allowed Jacksonville time to get back into the ballgame. The Chargers also couldn’t get defensive stops when it mattered.
For a unit that played virtually lights out during the team’s run to get into the postseason, the defense failed to put the brakes on second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville offense.
“Our fan base, they’re dying for a championship, just like we are, so you have that little feeling of letting people down,” Telesco said. “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.”
Dennis has covered politics, crime, race, social justice, sports, and entertainment. His work as a reporter has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Daily Breeze, Daily Press, AFRO, Los Angeles Sentinel, and Los Angeles Wave. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University. Dennis currently covers the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, and Olympic sports. Dennis is the editor of News4usonline.com and serves as the editor and publisher of the Compton Bulletin newspaper.