With the Chargers moving from San Diego to Los Angeles, the players and coaches are in uncharted territory. None of them have ever been involved in a relocation.
“It could do one of two things: It could break you apart, or it could pull you together,” Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “This past year was a unique year for us too with the uncertainty. Even though the win-loss column doesn’t show it, I saw our team come together during the season. That’s what we’re going to have to do as we move in transition up north. As a football team, you kind of rally around certain things, and we’re going to have to build this together up there. We understand we’re moving to a market that we’re going to have to build our fan base literally one by one. For a football team, you kind of band together with that sort of thing.”
After going 4-12 in 2015 and 5-11 in 2016, the Chargers are excited for a fresh start. With Philip Rivers entering his age-35 season, the Chargers are in win-now mode, though it helps that Rivers threw for 33 touchdowns last year – his most since 2008.
“I think (there would be) more pressure if you didn’t have a quarterback right now,” Telesco said. “The good thing is we have Philip right now, he’s still playing at a high level, and I think he still has a number of years left in him. But as a general manager, as a football organization, you’re always looking for who that next quarterback will be. When our scouts are out on the road in the fall, they’re scouting all the quarterbacks like we don’t have one at that point. We have to do that work. We’ve done that every year since I’ve been here because you never know when that player may come along. We’ve got a situation here where we know we have Philip, (and) we know we can win with Philip. But you’re always looking into the horizon.”
And not just at quarterback, either.
“With the draft, you’re not necessarily just drafting for players who are going to play for you in 2017,” Telesco said. “You have to look beyond that of how you’re going to build your roster in 2018, ’19 and ’20. Sometimes people see the draft as, ‘All right, who’s going to come fit into your roster immediately?’ And that’s not always the case.”
In January, the Chargers hired 48-year-old Anthony Lynn to be head coach. They chose Lynn because they thought he was the best person for the job. They weren’t worried about the big name or the sexy name. That’s how they’ll approach the draft and free agency as well.
Los Angeles loves stars, but it probably likes success more.
“Winning sells,” Telesco said. “That’s the big thing. You got to win. Names don’t win.”