If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I am not the biggest fan of Chargers’ head coach, Mike McCoy. I want so badly to be excited about this upcoming training camp and ensuing season. I want to be excited about Travis Benjamin and Keenan Allen on offense, and Jason Verrett and Denzel Perryman on defense. But there is one person standing in the way of my excitement — freaking Mike McCoy.
Many of McCoy’s coaching deficiencies are well documented. Blunders like terrible clock management in big games, recycling the same game plan from week to week, overly conservative play-calling (punting on 4th down when he should go for it), or questionable player development and usage are some of the big problems. Seeing these mistakes being made for three straight seasons, I was confident that the axe was finally coming down for a coach who had just steered his ship to twelve lost games, including no wins in his own division.
Enter the stadium saga. Perhaps the most important era in San Diego sports history began in early 2015 with Dean Spanos’ bid to move the team to LA. The bid ultimately stalled because a bunch of billionaires, who all have bigger piles of money than Dean, decided it was going to be the Rams who would move to LA with an option for the Chargers to follow if they couldn’t get a stadium built in San Diego. One of the underrated effects of this decision was that Mike McCoy got to keep his job.
The team’s future was uncertain. The only way to appear like a stable football organization was to give the illusion of some sort of stability. So, in an all too predictable and equally conservative move, the Chargers gave McCoy a two-year contract extension. The 4-12 record for the 2015 season was essentially erased and McCoy is back at the helm for 2016. However, there is one major problem for McCoy this year that he did not encounter last year: The Chargers HAVE to win this year.
I am calling it. This is the most important season ever for the Chargers as an organization. They have to have a winning record going into the November 8th vote of the downtown stadium initiative. Even if they have a winning record, it’s still going to be an uphill battle to get the two-thirds majority approval many are saying they will need for the initiative to pass. Having McCoy calling the shots at this critical juncture is a mistake. I would have taken the chance and tried to lure Hue Jackson to San Diego before he got a chance to go to Cleveland. But what is done is done, so let’s look into the future as we so often do as NFL fans.
This team has so many question marks. Will the offensive line be better? Will Melvin Gordon be better? Will special teams be better? Will the return of Ken Whisenhunt improve the offense? Will the defensive line be better? Will they be able to run the ball? Will this team have better injury luck? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, I think the Bolts will have a winning record and maybe make it to the playoffs. If the answer is no to even some of these questions, I do not believe that Mike McCoy will be able completely change his coaching style.
So what if the Chargers are 2-3 going into week six against the Broncos and lose? Many fans would be calling for McCoy’s head, including myself. Should he be removed midseason? Well yes, but also no. He should have been fired midseason last year. So if the team tanks in the first half of 2016, what do you do? The Chargers have put themselves in a very difficult situation. The conservative “old” Chargers philosophy would probably be to keep him until the end of the season. But this is not a normal season, and if a new football operations strategy is being formed within the organization, we could see its first really bold move of firing McCoy as early as Week 7.
It just so happens that Ken Whisenhunt used to be a head football coach and even took the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl. So you have McCoy’s potential interim replacement already on the team. Many fans might call for John Pagano to step in as McCoy’s potential proxy. I disagree. Pags has been behind the wheel of a defense that is full of first- and second-round draft picks, but has consistently given up big plays and underwhelmed in big games. If McCoy goes, I believe Pagano is not far behind.
I actually hope McCoy can break out of his shell this year and coach the Bolts back into the playoffs. As many of you know, I am critical of the Chargers, and will continue to be until they win a Super Bowl. But, I never root for players or coaches to fail. I simply point out where I think they can improve if a player or coach is not performing well.
We as fans need to show up in support of these players this year, and hopefully these players will feed off of our energy and dominate like we know they can. For once, let’s take it out of the coach’s hands. These players could be playing for the team to stay in San Diego forever. Isn’t that something worth showing up for and cheering for? I sure think so. Winning will solve many of our problems. Winning this year will take all of us together, and maybe one day, we will look back on 2016 as this being one of the greatest years in the history of San Diego sports.
Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think in the comments section below!