Here are five lessons learned from the Chargers offseason program.
1. Last Season Was "Not Good Enough" – The Chargers took a major leap forward a season ago in the first year under General Manager Tom Telesco and Head Coach Mike McCoy. However, that doesn’t mean the team is satisfied with what they accomplished. Each and every Bolt stressed the need to build off last year catapulting them ahead toward their ultimate goal of winning a world championship. McCoy emphasized all offseason the need to “pick up where we left off, improve and understand what we accomplished last year is not good enough.” Philip Rivers hammered the same point home when he told NFL Network that last year “wasn’t a great year, but getting into the postseason for sure was a plus and now we just have to build on that.”
2. An Energy in the Air – From the front office to the coaching staff and down to the players, the entire organization has exuded a humble confidence. There is an excited, palpable energy in the air at Chargers Park. Still, the team knows they need to work extremely hard and have a long way to go, but many players said this is the most excited they’ve been for a season in a very long time.
3. Need for Speed Filled – During his end of season address back in January, Telesco said one of his main goals was to add more speed to the Chargers roster. That mission appears to be accomplished as the team added a number of lightning fast players to the roster, especially through the draft. First-round pick Jason Verrett is a quick-twitch athlete, second-round selection Jerry Attaochu is a blur off the snap and seventh-round pick Tevin Reese is a speed demon capable of hitting pay dirt every time he gets the ball.
4. Strong Returns from Injury – A number of Bolts that missed the majority of 2013 will return in 2014, and they are excited about where they are in their progress. Perhaps most notable is Malcom Floyd, who seems to have picked up right where he left off after suffering a scary season-ending neck injury in Week 2. Melvin Ingram returned a year ago for the final six games (including postseason), but says he feels better than ever now a year removed from his ACL surgery. Steve Williams missed all of 2013 with a pectoral injury, but has been practicing fully. Finally, Dwight Freeney is on track in his rehab from a torn quad suffered in Week 4, and recently said he could play if the team had a game this week. Thus, in addition to offseason acquisitions, the Bolts are also buoyed by the return of a number of players.
5. A Close Knit Team – To be successful in the NFL, you need to have chemistry in the locker room. The 2014 Chargers have that in droves. From the moment they returned in April to the completion of mini camp, the players have been inseparable this offseason. In fact, this team gets along so well they’ve had a number of outings outside of Chargers Park. From catching a sneak preview of X-Men to team golf outings as well as weekly bowling trips, the Bolts are a tight knit team. The relationships forged should go a long way when the team returns to begin training camp on July 24.