COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Joe Hortiz is happy to partner with Jim Harbaugh to form what Los Angeles Chargers fans are hoping will be a dynamic duo. However, the Bolts' new general manager has his limits.
“Before I got the interview here, we talked about Batman and Robin, and certainly that’s the way we’re going to operate. The only thing is, I’m not wearing tights. I may put a cape on, but I'm not wearing tights,” Hortiz said during his introductory news conference on Tuesday.
Hortiz comes to Los Angeles after spending his entire 26-year NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens, working his way up from area scout to director of player personnel.
Hortiz accepted the job on Jan. 29, the day after the Ravens lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game. Hortiz has known Harbaugh for 26 years, dating to when Harbaugh was a quarterback for the Ravens.
Their relationship grew over the years as Hortiz did plenty of scouting at Stanford and Michigan.
Chargers director of football operations John Spanos said the team's approach in hiring a general manager and coach was different from 2013, when the plan was to hire the GM first.
Hortiz replaces Tom Telesco, who was fired along with coach Brandon Staley on Dec. 15 after a 63-21 loss at Las Vegas. The Chargers made the playoffs three times during Telesco's tenure but had a 86-98 record and didn't win a division title.
Spanos said the team conducted separate searches that led to Harbaugh and Hortiz.
“What was really important to us was the fit between the head coach and the general manager. We did not want to have an arranged marriage in any way. It was important to us, whatever domino did fall first, that person, we would want their insight on the other spot as well,” Spanos said. “What kind of worked out perfectly was both coach Harbaugh and Joe said nothing but super positive things about each other. We felt really good about that fit.”
Harbaugh, who attended Tuesday's news conference along with owner Dean Spanos, said last Thursday that he feels like he has a true partner in Hortiz.
“Not only does he know the talent that across the league and in college football and on our team, but when you listen to him talk, he knows it cold,” Harbaugh said. “There’s a tremendous track record there. I know that, for sure, because of my brother, John (Baltimore's coach since 2008). I trust a lot of people in football, I really do, and their opinions and their recommendations. When my brother says somebody’s good, and, ‘You and Joe are going to get along great and you’re going to be a great team,’ I know it’s going to be good and it’s going to be dynamic.”
Hortiz and Harbaugh began filling openings on the coaching staff Tuesday with Jesse Minter's appointment as defensive coordinator. They also will need to adjust a roster that is at least $45 million over the salary cap, and includes four players with cap numbers of at least $30 million for the 2024 season.
Hortiz was adamant that his plan for 2024 would be to build a solid cast around quarterback Justin Herbert, rather than tearing down the roster and trying to rebuild.
Los Angeles has the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft after a 5-12 season.
“That’s not going to be, ‘Let’s gut it and start over.’ We’re going to try to win this year, but you make the right decisions and the best decisions that give us flexibility this year and going forward," Hortiz said.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl