The circus that is the annual NFL Combine has pitched its tents in Indianapolis for the weekend. Anyone looking for a good place to eat in Indy (and can't get reservations at St. Elmo) should just ask new Chargers general manager Tom Telesco.
"Everything I have learned has been from the Colts, really," Telesco said.
That means he's learned how to find a great Midwest steak, and how to win football games.
Telesco arrived in Indy in 1998, the same year as Peyton Manning. He was there through 2012. In that time, the Colts missed the playoffs three times (Manning's rookie year, the 2001 season, and 2011, when Peyton missed the year with a neck injury and was replaced by Curtis Painter) and went to two Super Bowls, winning one.
Indy sustained that success despite having terrible draft positions. Victims of their own success, between 2000 and 2010 the Colts never had a top-10 pick, drafted four times in the 30's, and didn't even have a first-round selection twice.
Yet they still kept winning.
Telesco was there the whole time, learning all the tricks of Bill Polian's trade. Now that he's got his own team to run, we get to see just how much the learner absorbed from the master.
Telesco knows his offensive line needs help. Lots and lots of help. But they're not the only one. Telesco is looking at the entire offensive unit.
"The group, as a whole, we need to get improvement from," said Telesco on Thursday. "We need the whole group, together, offensive line, tight ends, backs, receivers, to get that group playing better."
Philip Rivers was sacked 49 times, 11 more than he'd ever gone down in a season. Rivers was sacked a total of 49 times in the 2006 and 2007 seasons combined.
It's no coincidence, both of those years were in LaDainian Tomlinson's prime. The threat of a running game can work wonders for your quarterback. Which brings us to Ryan Mathews.
The first round pick in 2010 has simply not panned out. Injuries (10 missed games in three years) and ineffectiveness (7 lost fumbles, just 5 fewer than LT had in 11 years) have everyone wondering if Mathews can be an every-down back in the NFL.
Telesco says he sees Ryan's talent, but doesn't want him taking too much punishment. So, he's looking hard at running backs over the weekend.
"We'd like a complement back, there's no doubt about it," said Telesco, who saw 4 different players rush for 1,000 yards in a season during his time in Indy. "I'm a big believer in two backs. These guys take a lot of punishment during the year. So, to have two backs back there, actually you'd like three, but you'd like to have two backs you can lean on. It doesn't really bother me what kind of style it is, as long as he can come in and play."
That last part might be the most important. The Chargers just need guys who can come in and play well. After last year's free agent class fizzled out (the lone exception being LB Jarret Johnson, who played extemely well on defense), the Bolts can't miss on any more new players, especially with the way the Broncos are set up.
Telesco knows a little bit about how good Peyton Manning is. Hopefully he also knows where to find some Kryptonite.