COSTA MESA, Calif. — Less than 24 hours after a devastating 31-30 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in a wild-card playoff game, Los Angeles Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa seemingly held few thoughts back as he stood at his locker inside the team’s training facility, packing up his locker for the offseason.
The crew that officiated the playoff game? “I’m sick of those f—ing people,” Bosa said Sunday.
His own behavior, including slamming his helmet into the ground, which netted him two costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalties? “I need to be more accountable for my actions,” Bosa said.
And whether Bosa believes in coach Brandon Staley? “I do,” he said.
In their first playoff appearance since 2018, only the second of Bosa’s career, the Chargers sprinted to a 27-0 lead only to watch it slip away, then disappear completely when the Jaguars kicked a 36-yard field goal as time expired to complete the third-largest comeback in NFL playoff history.
“We lost because we f—ing blew it in the second half. Pretty simple,” Bosa said.
In his third game since returning from a 12-game stint on injured reserve, Bosa had only one tackle and zero quarterback pressures — both tied for the fewest in his career.
But, tying a career high, he posted three penalties, including two for unsportsmanlike conduct, for 21 yards.
The penalty prompted Jaguars coach Doug Pederson to call for a 2-point conversion with the ball moved from the 2 to the 1-yard line. The Jaguars converted the play and closed the gap to 30-28 with 5:25 remaining.
“I’m sure I have some fines coming my way already,” Bosa said, initially hesitant to express his thoughts when asked about missed holding calls by officials.
But then he sounded off.
“I do really, really want to say some things. I need to be more accountable for my actions, obviously, but it’s a heated game and I’m hurting out there, I’m playing on half a leg, I’m getting dragged to the ground, whatever, could hurt me along with screwing our team, and yeah, maybe some of ’em weren’t as blatant as I thought, but I don’t know. I think there just needs to be more accountability,” he said. “I mean, if I say something to them I get a $40,000 fine but if they blow a call that ruins an entire team’s season they get to — they’ll probably be back in the locker room after the game like, ‘Haha, got that a–hole, oh yeah, got him 15 yards, what a loser.’
“I guarantee it, that’s what they’re f—ing talking like in the back. Whatever power trip. I’m sick of those f—ing people.”
Bosa also said, however, that he felt “sick” about his actions, that they contributed to the blown lead and that he must be more accountable.
“Doesn’t mean I need to scream at them or say anything but how is it fair for me, who is out there playing my butt off and there’s a missed call and I say something, and he’s going to run up into my face — what grown man in a position that he’s in, ‘Oh, what did you say to me? What did you say to me?’ Like he’s antagonizing me to — ‘Oh, he said it, there we go, got him’ — it’s like, whatever,” Bosa added. “It’s whatever.”
Bosa also expressed regret for slamming his helmet onto the field as he approached the sideline. Staley picked the helmet up off the ground and returned it to Bosa, only for the 27-year-old to slam it to the ground again.
Despite the season-ending loss, a game in which ESPN analytics gave the Bolts a 98% chance to win after going up 27-0 with 4:25 to play in the first half, Bosa said he supported Staley and the coaching staff.
“There are a 100 different opportunities throughout that game that have nothing to do with the coaches that if we executed the way that we are supposed to it’s 50-0 or whatever,” Bosa said. “Me and Staley, he got us to the playoffs against all odds. It was a rough season and a lot of us were out, me included — I wish I could have helped more — but yeah, I get a little frustrated when there’s, ‘Oh why did he call this, why did he do that.’
“‘Cause why did I slam my helmet on the floor when he picked it up for me and tried to calm me down and get me in order and I grabbed it from him and threw it on the ground again? How is that his fault? It is my fault? I mean, there’s a million examples.”
The Chargers entered the season among the favorites to make a deep playoff run with a roster that included a pass rush of Bosa and Khalil Mack, All-Pro safety Derwin James Jr., cornerback J.C. Jackson, quarterback Justin Herbert, wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and running back Austin Ekeler, who ended up leading the NFL with 18 touchdowns.
However, injuries quickly began to mount.
After Week 3, Bosa and left tackle Rashawn Slater were place on injured reserve. Jackson joined them there after Week 7, followed by multiple defensive linemen. Allen and Williams both dealt with nagging injuries that limited them to only four complete games together and Herbert played several games through fractured rib cartilage suffered in Week 2.
The Chargers, who finished 10-7 and second in the AFC West, clinched their first playoff berth in four years with a Week 16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Bosa expressed a desire for the same group to return in 2023, but acknowledged that change has been the only constant in his seven years as a pro.
“I hope I have my guy Khalil with me. … I just want another chance with this group and I obviously know it’s not going to be everybody, but I really hope I’m here with these guys,” Bosa said. “I looked at Khalil [on Saturday night] on the plane and was like, ‘Man I wish I could’ve been out there with you more this year, it really was upsetting.’ But I’m proud of this team.”