Welcome to the Chargers Mailbag! I'm Senior Writer Eric Smith, and I answer questions from the Bolt Fam each month during the offseason.
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Off we go...
The Chargers aren't limiting their search for an offensive coordinator to one specific area.
To catch everyone up, the Bolts have now completed two interviews for that position.
Zac Robinson, the Passing Game Coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the Rams, interviewed Monday. Greg Olson, a senior offensive assistant for the Rams, interviewed Tuesday.
There will still be more coaches that interview for this job, as Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said last week that the Bolts will cast a wide net in their search process.
They've actually already done that, as Robinson has four years of NFL coaching experience compared to 21 for Olson. The Chargers are doing their homework on coaches with different amounts of experience, just as Staley said they would.
"What you have to do is go through a process to discover people," Staley said last Wednesday. "Like I said, good coaches come in all shapes and sizes, all levels of experience. What we're going to try and do is find the type of coaching staff that fits me, our players and our organization."
Now, is there a certain flavor or style that the Chargers want from their next offensive coordinator?
Sure. Staley noted last week that someone from the Sean McVay/Kyle Shanahan scheme tree might be the best fit given how successful those offenses have been in recent years. And the branches of that tree extend even further back to the 1990s, where they were parts of Super Bowl offenses.
A key trait Staley said he is looking for is a coach who can help boost the Bolts run game while also increasing explosive passing plays down the field.
"In terms of the passing game, that's what we've been able to do at a high level for the last two years, throw the football," Staley said. "But, to be more explosive, you have to be able to run the football more consistently to put more pressure on people.
"What we want to do is cast a net to where we find the best person to lead our offense and to, ultimately, be a part of our team, and connect all phases to one another," Staley added. "That's what I'm after."
Staley also noted last week that the Chargers were going to take their time with this search. So far, the team has.
But as the search process continues, keep in mind what the new offensive coordinator will be working with.
To start, have you heard of Justin Herbert?
I joke around, but what offensive coach wouldn't want the chance to work with the young star quarterback?
Outside of him, Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams and Keenan Allen headline the skill position players. And the offensive line features key building blocks with Corey Linsley, Rashawn Slater, Zion Johnson and Jamaree Salyer.
Staley said it best last week when he said the Bolts might have the top offensive coordinator job available. In my mind, they do.
"We have one of the top jobs in the league, so we're going to be thorough with our process," Staley said. "There's not a rush to do anything because we want to make sure that we hire the best coach."
Hard to believe, but draft season is only a few months away.
But I'm not going to project what position the Chargers will take with the 21st overall pick, and there's a few reasons for that.
First, it's not even February yet. Free agency usually plays a big role in determining what a team does in April based on whether or not they are able to fill needs in mid-March.
Second, the draft is a crapshoot. It really is. I've been around the league long enough to know that even the best draft analysts only hit on their predictions a small percentage of the time.
Can you make the case for another wide receiver or tight end to give Herbert even more options offensively? Of course.
Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer is a player who is going to be mentioned with the Chargers first-round pick, and he's already been mocked to the Bolts.
But you could also made the case for a number of other positions, too.
Considering the time of year, let's get through the combine first and circle back once the picture becomes clearer.
We've got three months to go until the draft. In the meantime, check out Version 1.0 of our Mock Draft Tracker.
I'll answer the latter of these two inquiries first.
A new facility is coming and from what I've heard, it will be among the best in the league.
I'd disagree with Josh's point about injuries being more common here than anywhere else. The simplest way to say it is that it's based on luck.
A year ago, the Chargers were among the least injured teams in the league. This year, the injury bug hit them harder.
Even so, the Bolts still managed to get into the playoffs despite a constant shuffling of lineups.
Let's get to Josh's first point though where he asks about the Chargers taking the next step.
To me, the Chargers aren't far off from being counted upon the elite teams across the league.
The standard bearer for that in recent seasons has been the Chiefs, and the Chargers are right there every time with their division rival.
It might be as simple as being just a little bit better in all areas, whether that's against the Chiefs or any other team.
The Bolts won double-digit games and made the playoffs this past season. That's an accomplishment, sure, but not one that the Bolts are resting on.
They want to still be playing this time of season, whether it's now or any other year. Let's hope the Chargers can find ways to be a tad better in numerous areas in 2023.
Some people (and quarterbacks) are simply not rah-rah leaders who get in your face and give a fiery pregame speech to get a team fired up.
From everything I've learned and noticed about Herbert in the past six months, he's not that guy.
Instead, he'll mostly lead by example and his play on the field ... which is pretty damn good.
And I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the leadership, emotion and personality that Herbert did show at times this past season, especially after a win over the Dolphins.
There was his emphatic spike in the postgame locker room.
And there was a hilarious interaction with Allen right after the game.
Look at the way his teammates react to him when that emotion does come out. And it does come out, maybe just not publicly for all to see all teh time.
But it's clear to me, and not just from the two videos above, that Herbert is truly a captain on this team.
One other quick note on this.
In talking to teammates this season, it's clear that Herbert is starting to come out of his shell a bit as his career progresses.
Here's what Chase Daniel told me about Herbert in late December:
"He's really taken ownership of the offense, but also the team, as well," Daniel said. "Just his leadership and what he's been able to do, not only on the field but off the field as well.
"He's putting himself out there a lot more. He might be a little more introverted [than most]," Daniel added with a quick smile. "But he's really been awesome this year, just great to be around."
And after the season ended, Corey Linsley said this:
"Just being himself, getting more comfortable, everything. When I say, 'being himself,' it's being consistent. He's the same person. He's committed to this team and that's huge. He's the least ego statistical person I've ever met. It's incredible. He cares about what's important, not all of the flash, which brings us all closer and makes us want to work even harder for him."
Those are two of the more impressive quotes you'll read about a quarterback, and they are from guys who have both been around the league a long time.
Is Herbert ever going to lead that pregame speech? Maybe not.
But he has evolved into a great leader for the Chargers in more ways than one.
This question certainly refers to the trade the Chargers made almost a year ago when they acquired Khalil Mack from the Bears for a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 sixth-round pick.
Is something like that bound to happen again this offseason? Probably not, and mostly because of the finances involved.
In his year-end press conference, Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco was asked about how the team would handle its current cap space this offseason.
"It may be different than last year's offseason. Every year is a little bit different," Telesco said. "This year will be a little bit different, not as much [salary cap] space to work with, which is fine. Every offseason is a little bit different. Certainly, this year will be different than last year's."
Based on that answer, I wouldn't expect a trade like the one we saw a year ago.
No. The Chargers have a No. 1 running back and it's Austin Ekeler.
They have a strong No. 2 option, too, in Joshua Kelley.
Based on the decisions the Chargers have made since the season ended, plus Staley's comments above about wanting a more potent run game, there's a good chance that the Bolts are banking on the new offensive coordinator finding a way to get that part of the offense going.
The run game had its moments in 2022 but was just too inconsistent overall.
As I've written in this space before, nobody is ever going to expect the Chargers to lead the league in rushing. But if they can have a capable ground game that takes pressure off Herbert, they have the potential to have one of the league's top offenses.
Telesco said as much last week.
"We'll always be a passing team. We have Justin Herbert, we like to throw the ball," Telesco said. "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.
"If you look at where our rushing numbers will be - like I said, they're never going to be high rushing numbers, as far as terms of yards - but yards per carry should be better. Two years ago, our yards per carry were pretty good, top-10 in the league," Telesco added. "This year, almost toward the bottom. Obviously, that's a big thing. We're going to look at it in the offseason because that has to be better to be a good playoff team."
Everyone heals from an ACL injury differently. Guyton suffered his in Week 3, so that timeline means he should be ready for training camp.
But it remains to be seen what team Guyton is on in the coming months. He's scheduled to be a restricted free agent when the New League Year begins in mid-March, so we'll see if the Chargers decide to bring him back.
A fun one here to cap us off.
For those wondering, I'm going to assume that Fehoko's emoji is referring to a bowl of phở.
And I say that because we literally talked about phở in the locker room a few weeks ago.
If you aren't familiar, phở is a Vietnamese soup that is made up of broth, noodles, meat and veggies. I'm plenty familiar with it because it is delicious. And my wife is Vietnamese so we have it pretty often which is just fine with me.
But if you're asking my favorite phở to eat, my answer is the one my in-laws make in their own kitchen. They spend almost 24 hours making it and so trust me when I tell you that it's better than any kind I've had at a restaurant, and there are some excellent choices for that around here.
That will do it for this month.
As always, you can find me on Twitter at @Eric_L_Smith and submit your questions for the Chargers Mailbag.
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