Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
In early January 2013, shortly after former head coach-general manager combination Norv Turner and A.J. Smith were let go, did Turner imply, according to the Union Tribune San Diego, that fans should not expect the playoffs in the upcoming season.
“We’ve had too many changes,” Turner said, in an article written by Michael Gehlken. “We’ve lost too many people.”
The next era of football in San Diego began when Tom Telesco, the vice president of football operations with the Indianapolis Colts, was hired as GM over a group of candidates, which included internal option Jimmy Raye.
A little more than a year, one unexpected playoff appearance and two drafts later, it is clear that the Chargers have made the correct choice.
In his first week as GM, Telesco hired current head coach, Mike McCoy from the Denver Broncos, whose strengths consisted of adapting his offensive schemes around the strengths’ of his players. In his first year in San Diego, McCoy has played a strong role in changing the culture of the locker room, while assisting in resurrecting franchise quarterback Philip Rivers’ career.
In the draft, Telesco’s area of expertise, he has been fantastic. In his first draft, he selected three starters that played key roles throughout 2013 in offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, inside linebacker Manti Te’o and receiver Keenan Allen. The draft class was so strong that, in a 2013 redraft by Sports Illustrated, Fluker and Allen both would have been selected with the top four picks.
In his second draft, Telesco was solid, as he addressed areas of need, while he also reinforced depth in positions that struggled in 2013 due to injuries.
Although the Chargers are not typically key players during the free-agency period, potentially due to the financial handicap that Telesco inherited from his predecessor, he has still made several impact signings; offensive tackle King Dunlap was able to protect Rivers’ blindside, while running back Danny Woodhead was a good change-of-pace back, who finished the 2013 season with 106 rushes for 429 yards and 76 receptions for 605 yards and eight cumulative touchdowns.
In his second free-agency, Telesco has focused more on retaining important players from the 2013 season, however he did sign running back Donald Brown, whose one-cut running style should complement Ryan Mathews and Woodhead.
Even though Telesco has been highly successful in his short time as the GM of the Chargers, he is not quite perfect. Derek Cox, the big free agent pick up from a season ago, who came off a very solid 2012 campaign with the Jacksonville Jaguars, finished the season with only one interception and seven passes defended in his only season as a Bolt.
All in all, Telesco is the man for the job in San Diego. He has had a vision for the team since day one, and he has been manifesting that vision by ensuring that the best players are on the field through strong drafting and smart moves through free-agency.
It’s the type of turnaround project one would expect to occur over a five-year period, yet it is only in year two. A year ago, Telesco said that these Chargers would not be a rebuilding project, and it has not been one.
So, it’s about time that we look at the GM for who he really is, and acknowledge that, while he is not perfect, he is the man that will lead the Chargers to their first Super Bowl.