In Tom Telesco's season-ending press conference, the Chargers general manager expressed his disappointment with the ending of the 2014 campaign, but was sure to not leave out the positive strides San Diego made.
"There are positives, it was a good year, but not nearly good enough," Telesco said. "We're disappointed on our play in December, but I can tell you I'm really proud of our players, very proud of our coaching staff and we're already working on 2015.
"Mike McCoy's done a tremendous job of coaching this team."
The Chargers experienced a roller-coaster season in 2014, something San Diego fans have grown used to. A 5-1 start was met with a three-game losing streak, and after climbing back in the playoff hunt, a 1-3 December record doomed the Bolts.
San Diego finished with a 9-7 record, the same as it did in 2013, but failed to reach the playoffs after squeaking in last season.
"In the last two years we've built a strong foundation here and built a culture," Telesco said. I think we have a bright future, I'm still not quite over the KC game but I'm excited for next year."
Regarding personnel decisions, Telesco didn't say much as to the futures of free agent running back Ryan Mathews. The talented back has only recorded one 16-game season in his career, and his rookie deal from when the Chargers drafted him in 2010 has ran its course.
"Those are discussion we're gonna have. I like having time. I don't like making decisions right after a season, there's too many emotions involved. We know what Ryan brings to us, he's a great kid. We'll take our time and decide what we're gonna do with all our guys."
With Mathews injured for the majority of the 2014 season, undrafted rookie Branden Oliver led the Bolts with 582 rushing yards while Donald Brown failed to make a major contribution in his first year in San Diego after arriving via free agency from Indy.
"I like the backs we have right now, i really do. You can only carry so many running backs," Telesco said. "Donald Brown will be back. I have a lot of confidence in Donald, I really do. He's got some big play ability, you probably didn't see enough of that this year but he's got it."
San Diego's season was partially defined by injuries, as the Chargers used five different starting centers after Nick Hardwick held the position down for a decade.
"Each one of those guys who came in (at center) played good football," Telesco said. "No one's gonna ever be Nick Hardwick.
"We put a lot of work into filtering out as far as players get here (the) injury risks. Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw."
While he remained injury-free for most of the year, right tackle D.J. Fluker struggled at times in his second year, but Telesco pointed out late-season performances against Denver and Baltimore in which Philip Rivers wasn't sacked once.
"Philip wasn't touched in those games and D.J. was a part of that," Telesco said. "I think he can still be a great tackle in this league. He's still growing too, not physically but mentally.
Rivers followed up his stellar 2013 campaign with another impressive year, but the quarterback played banged-up over the second half of the season and while still with a number of years remaining as a high-level quarterback, it's clear the urgency to get Rivers talent now is as strong as ever.
"When you have someone like Philip you want to get as many weapons as possible and protect him as well as possible," Telesco said. Telesco also put to rest any concern that the Chargers wouldn't work out a new deal with Rivers, whose contract expires after next season.
"We're committed to make sure Philip retires as a Charger," Telesco said.
As for free agency, Telesco has a wealth of cap space to work with, as Jared Gaither and Robert Meachum finally come off the books.
"We've got some more maneuverability in 2015 and a lot more in 2016. We've built a really strong foundation," Telesco said. "I do believe that people you sign in free agency aren't the saviors coming in."
"We're set up to make a run here."