Chargers' general manager Telesco reflects on 2022 season
February 2, 2023
When all things are considered, the Los Angeles Chargers should consider the 2022 season as a step in the right direction. Winston Churchill once said, "Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm." For the 2022 Chargers, the injuries were too much to overcome for this roster. General Manager Tom Telesco discussed the 2022 season in his end of the season press conference last week.
"Disappointing end to the season, obviously, losing in the playoffs," Telesco said. "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."
In the end, the season was a failure, but making the playoffs and a second consecutive winning season helps ease the pain. For Telesco and his staff, improving the depth of the roster will be critical if the Chargers want to continue as a winning team that consistently makes the playoffs and has a real shot at getting to the Super Bowl.
In the 31-30 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the playoffs, the Chargers could not run the ball when they got a 27-0 lead. This was a season long problem that the Chargers could not fix. Losing pro bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater early in the season did not help. The Chargers were forced to throw the ball a lot. They were second in the NFL in pass play percentage at 65.09%, behind only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 67.88%. The Chargers offense was carried by quarterback Justin Herbert.
"We're going to probably have a new vision and approach on offense, that's one way to go at it, Telesco said. "We'll always be a passing team. We have 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."
A new vision and approach on offense should include an upgrade at tight end and speed at wide receiver. Of the four teams still alive in the playoffs, three are graded in the top five in the NFL by Pro Football Focus (PFF). Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs is the No. 1 rated tight end in the NFL, George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers is rated No. 2, and Dallas Goedert of the Philadelphia Eagles the No. 4 in the NFL.
Chargers starting tight end Gerald Everett was ranked No. 16 at tight end but ranked No. 58 out of 74 tight ends in run blocking. Everett was tied for the league lead in dropped passes with seven. Second-year tight end Tre' McKitty was graded as the worst tight end in the NFL. Backup tight end Donald Parham missed 11 games in the regular season, but his tight end grade was ranked 5th in the NFL. He should be the starter going forward. The Chargers need to find depth through the draft at this position.
The Chargers need speed on the outside at wide receiver and they could use speed in the backfield. They need a guy that can separate on the outside. A wide receiver with 4.3 speed in the forty would help. Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, and Josh Palmer, the top three Charger wide receivers, are all 4.5 at best in the forty.
"I want speed at every position on our roster," Telesco said. "That's kind of the philosophy, it always has been. Would I love an explosively fast, stretch-the-field receiver? Absolutely, I would love to have that. But I'm not going to give back Keenan Allen. I'm not going to give back Mike Williams. I'm not going to give back Josh Palmer. This past year, our dual punt and kickoff returner was DeAndre Carter, who was going to have a smaller role in the offense and ended up having a bigger role due to injuries. He had a really nice year for us. I wish that our fifth receiver was Lance Alworth, but it's not."
That got a laugh from the media. Alworth played for the Chargers In the 1960's and 1970's and is in the NFL Hall of Fame. He may be the greatest Charger wide receiver ever. Alworth is exactly what they need. Alworth was on the track team at Arkansas and ran a 9.6 in the 100-yard dash and 21.2 in the 220-yard dash. His nickname was Bambi named after the grace running deer in the early Disney cartoons.
"I've seen Mike [Williams] make a lot of catches deep down the field, a lot," Telesco said. "That counts just as much as a little guy running fast down the field. Mike Williams is an incredible player. He averaged over 20 yards per catch a few years ago. I'm not going to argue with that. Would I love a bit, 4.3 receiver? Yeah. Are you kidding me? Absolutely. But I like the guys that we have, too. I'm not giving those guys back."
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney once said about Williams, "With Mike Williams, if there's only one (defender) on him, he's open." Williams is definitely a receiver that will fight for the ball and win those 50-50 battles. But he does get hurt. Williams missed four games in the regular season, and he missed the playoff game against the Jaguars.
For Telesco, there will be much work to get done in the offseason. "Our fan base, they're dying for a championship, just like we are, so you have that little feeling of letting people down. 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." In the spirit of Winston Churchill.