Tom Telesco took the podium for around 13 minutes on Tuesday to speak with the media at this year’s NFL combine. It’s a trip that TT is always fond of since he’s able to return to the city he spent a handful of years in when he worked under Bill Polian with the Colts.
Like most press conferences surrounding the draft, free agency, etc., Telesco kept most of his thoughts close. He’s never been one to say anything “revealing” in regards to the team’s plans and things don’t seem to be changing anytime soon.
But at any rate, let’s go over what the Chargers general manager had to say in his first public appearance since the weeks following 2021 regular season.
1.) “We’ve got to take another step up there on offense.”
The Chargers finished the 2021 regular season with the league’s fourth-ranked offensive unit. Justin Herbert was one of only two quarterbacks to throw for over 5,000 yards (Tom Brady being the other) while Austin Ekeler scored a whopping 20 combined touchdowns that tied with the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor for the most in the league.
Yet despite all of that, Telesco believes the offense can go even further beyond.
“The focus can’t just be on one side of the ball,” he stated. “It’s got to be on both. I want to make sure on offense we don’t take a step back next year. I thought we had a really good year on offense. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was good. We’ve got to take another step up there on offense.
One area of note that Telesco mentioned the team needed to get better at was the backup running back spot behind Ekeler. Any contributions from the backup ball-carriers were essentially non-existent until the final month of the season when Justin Jackson was forced to start in place of Ek for two games.
Of course, Telesco left the door open for that issue to be fixed via any avenue this offseason, whether it’s from the draft, free agency, or another player currently on the roster stepping up to the plate.
2.) Will there be some turnover on special teams?
Despite showing he could improve one of the worst special teams units over the past decade, Derius Swinton II still got the boot after just one season in Los Angeles.
In his place, the Chargers hired former Vikings special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken to the same post.
Telesco was asked about Ficken’s hire and whether or not that move would mean Ficken would be bringing in “his guys” or would the team attempt to keep some continuity at the various core spots.
“I don’t look at is as someone bringing in their own guys, but like you said, we’ve got a kicker who’s a free agent, long snapper is a free agent, Ty the punter is restricted, our kick returner is a free agent, our best gunner last year is a free agent. We’ve got some work to do, obviously, just with those positions. I rely a lot on our special teams coaches to help with that.”
Reading that list of players set to be free agents is a bit scary. Guys like Dustin Hopkins and Andre Roberts must be re-signed while the team needs to move on from Long who has been quite underwhelming over the past two seasons. Shoot, bring Matt Overton back as well. He did just fine.
Now for the players who will eventually make up the rest of the unit, that’ll be a job for Ficken, so here’s to hoping he nails his first impression.