It is no secret that the San Diego Chargers are on the hunt for a new head coach. Yes, Mike McCoy has worn out his welcome and has been shown the door. As Chargers coaches go, he wasn’t anywhere near the worst. Nor was he near the best. Some give him the excuse that injuries handcuffed McCoy and made it impossible to win. There is an element of truth to that statement, but the fact that he still showed poor game management and lacked any kind of personality didn’t help his argument for staying on and at least finishing his contract. No, McCoy had to go and a new coach must be ushered in. In fact, I would be so bold as to say that this hire may be the most important decision that the Bolts have moving forward. More important then who they re-sign, who they draft, and as far as wins and losses go, where they play.
Judging by the list of candidates that the Chargers have lined up, it appears that the upper management may want a defensive minded coach. In fact, the first three candidates interviewed were all current defensive coordinators. History shows that building a team with the attitude of a defensive mind has worked well for the Chargers. I know what you are thinking, if you are old enough to remember, “The Chargers earned their stripes as an offensive juggernaut!” Well that is true, but that style has not worked in decades. The last two coaches who truly built a formidable contender were both defensive minded; Bobby Ross and Marty Schottenheimer.
Taking a look at all 15 former head coaches of the San Diego Chargers, you will see that only six have a winning record. Here is the list of former coaches, when they coached, their record and winning percentages:
Sid Gilman ’60-’69 & ’71 87-57-6 .600
Charlie Waller ’69-’70 9-7-3 .553
Harland Svare ’71-73 7-17-2 .307
Ron Waller ’73 1-5 .166
Tommy Prothro ’74-78 21-39 .350
Don Coryell ’78-’86 72-60 .545
Al Saunders ’86-’88 17-22 .436
Dan Henning ’89-’91 16-32 .333
Bobby Ross ’92-’96 50-36 .581
Kevin Gilbride ’97-’98 6-16 .272
June Jones ’98 3-7 .300
Mike Riley ’99-01 14-34 .292
Marty Schottenheimer ’02-’06 47-33 .588
Norv Turner ’07-’12 59-43 .578
Mike McCoy ’13-’17 28-38 .424
As you can clearly see, it has been a long time since an offensive mindset has been successful for the Chargers. Sid Gilman was the only coach to ever lead the Chargers to a championship and he was most definitely an offensive coach. But Gilman was doing things offensively with the passing game that had never been done before. Defenses had not had time to adjust to his aerial circus.
Sure, Norv Turner had the fourth best winning percentage of any Chargers coach in history, but it is widely understood that he inherited a great roster from Schottenheimer and systematically burned it to the ground in just a few years.
Yes, Don Coryell is a legend and had one of the best offenses in NFL history! But, the lack of importance placed on the defense in those years doomed his teams to falling short of their ultimate goal. Now, the same thing could be said about Schottenheimer and the post-season. He did indeed fail in the post-season as well, even with his defensive mindset. That is true, but let’s not forget that Marty was fired with a 14-2 record and a roster that could still be dominant for years to come. He was not given the chance to run the full course. We will never know what could have been.
As previously stated, it does appear to be time for a new sheriff in town. Not just a new face saying the same old garbage. The Chargers need a new face, with a new attitude. An attitude of accountability and determination. An attitude of winning is what matters, not excuses. If they fail to find the right man for the job, look for beloved players like Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates to end their potential Hall of Fame careers without any jewelry to show for it. It’s now or never for those great Chargers.
Whether the Chargers go with an offensive or defense coach, or even a special teams guy, there is one thing that they need to do above all else……GET IT RIGHT!
So, I’ve been reading lots of comments about how we should hire either Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher. Let’s take a look at both candidates and a few other names that have been mentioned by Chargers fans.
Jon Gruden: Personally, I don’t get it. I don’t see Gruden as a great coach who can walk in and save the day. After two minutes of research, I found that Jon Gruden has a career coaching record of 95-81 (.540). He coached for 11 years. He had a record of 5-4 in the playoffs with one Super Bowl win. His best single season record was 12-4 and his worst was 4-12.
Gruden’s record shows that he is an adequate coach who can win with the right players. I believe his reputation as a tough guy (Chucky) and his recognizable name are the two reasons he is considered a “sexy” pick.
Bill Cowher: A much better choice, in my humble opinion. He has a career record of 149-90-1 (.623). He coached for 15 years. He was 12-9 in the post-season with two trips to the Super Bowl with one victory and one loss. His best single season record was 15-1 and his worst was 6-10. There are two knocks that go against Cowher. 1. He is too old. 2. He has a cushy job and doesn’t want to leave it.
I don’t buy number one. He is 59 years old. That is not old in coach years. He just retired young. Number two, on the other hand, I totally believe. I don’t think he would want to leave his TV gig for the grind of the NFL. Also, if he came back and failed, it would tarnish his legacy.
Let’s just move from both of these guys. If Cowher says he wants the job, I’m fine with that. But I don’t think he will. If Gruden wants the job, I would not be excited.
For comparison’s sake, Bill Belichick’s winning percentage is .670 and Norv Turner’s winning percentage with San Diego was .583 with a career percentage of .483.
Other names being talked about by Chargers fans on social media:
Rex Ryan: Coached for eight years so far. Record of 60-65 (.480). Playoff record of 4-2 with no Super Bowl appearances. Best record 11-5, worst 4-12
David Shaw: No NFL head coaching experience. .788 winning percentage while at Stanford.
Ken Whisenhunt: Head coach for eight years. Overall record of 48-71 (.403). Post-season record 4-2 with one trip to the Super Bowl (loss). Best record 10-6. Worst 2-14.
Sean Payton: Head coach for 10 years. Career record of 92-65 (.586). Post-season record 6-4 with one Super Bowl victory. Best record 13-3 (twice). Worst 7-9.
Mike McCoy: Head coach for four years. Career record of 27-34 (.443). Post-season record 1-1 with zero trips to the Super Bowl. Best record 9-7. Worst 4-12.
I don’t know about you, but if I have a great vacation planned on Monday, I have a hard time focusing on being productive at work on Friday. Someone better say or do something to keep me focused on my job or I might as well stay home. Apparently, the Chargers players feel the same way. Since Mike McCoy took over as Head Coach (HC) of the Chargers, the team is 1-3 the week before the bye. Their only win coming against a very poor Jacksonville team. So, am I suggesting that coaching has something to do with the team losing focus? You bet I am! Taking a look at recent Chargers history, it seems the better the coach, the better the team stays focused the week before the bye.
So let us take a look at the last three Chargers coaches and see how each one did before the bye. We will go in reverse order, starting with Mike McCoy. This is McCoy’s fourth season as the Chargers Head Coach. He has had four opportunities to go to the bye with momentum. He has squandered three of those opportunities. Time to take a look at McCoy’s 1-3 pre-bye record:
Year Week Opponent W/L Score
2016 10 Dolphins L 24-31
2015 9 Bears L 19-24
2014 9 Dolphins L 0-37
2013 7 Jaguars W 24-6
Those are not exactly juggernauts that the Bolts fell to the last three years. Although the Chargers are not to be confused with a team that contends for the championship each season, they are certainly good enough to win against this competition. It appears to this viewer that the Chargers do not come out to play going into a bye under Mike McCoy.
Okay, so maybe the players are mentally fishing, hunting, or golfing while they await permission to leave for vacation. Is that really on Mike McCoy? Not completely, but in my humble opinion he should shoulder much of the blame.
Despite the negative opinion that most Chargers fans have about former HC, Norv Turner, I think most would agree that he was better than McCoy. Turner did lead the team to as high as a 12-4 record during his tenure. Yes, he did have a very nice roster to work with, but he still had to coach and motivate the team. Turner’s record going into a bye very much resembles the average coach that he was. Norv teams were 3-3 the day before vacation. Here is the breakdown:
2012 6 Broncos L 24-35
2011 5 Broncos W 29-24
2010 9 Texans W 29-23
2009 4 Steelers L 28-38
2008 8 Saints L 32-37
2007 6 Raiders W 28-14
Now let us take a peak at a coach who was considered a winner, a disciplinarian, and a leader. Yes, Marty Schottenheimer was the Chargers HC for five seasons. Schottenheimer was known for not allowing his players to lose focus. He kept his players accountable. They knew that if they slacked off, they would be invited to watch the rest of the game from the bench. It is no coincidence that his record going into a bye was excellent. Here is what Marty accomplished:
2006 2 Titans W 40-7
2005 9 Jets W 31-26
2004 9 Saints W 43-17
2003 5 Jaguars L 21-27
2002 7 Raiders W 27-21
Sure enough, the Chargers, under Schottenheimer were a very respectable 4-1 heading into a bye. Before you start talking about how great the players were in Marty’s day, remember he had teams that went 8-8, 4-12 and 9-7 to go along with his 12-4 and 14-2 teams.
In this writer’s opinion, there is no doubt that a coaches ability to keep his team motivated and focused on the goal at hand, rather than their upcoming vacation, is paramount to a team’s success. What is your opinion? Please leave your comments below. I’ll get back to you. #gobolts!
I thought Norv Turner was a bad head coach. This guy has nothing on the current train wreck that is Mike McCoy (or Mike McTurner or Norv McCoy or Mike McNorv or Useless, as he is unaffectionately referred to in some circles).
This isn’t the first time I’ve said this and it certainly won’t be the last. Mike McCoy needs to go. He needs to go far, far away and he needs to do it quickly.
Let’s start with the obvious: 23-29 record as a head coach and that really doesn’t begin to describe how bad he truly is. Five wins, count them, F.I.V.E. over the last 20 games. That’s a 25% clip.
This season alone, through four games, he’s guided the ship to a single victory, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars who we all know have been terrible since 2010. He and his squad managed three come-from-ahead losses in the other games.
The Chargers lost games with fourth quarter leads eight times over those 20 games, per ESPN’s Eric Williams (http://www.espn.com/blog/san-diego-chargers/post/_/id/17764/grabbing-defeat-from-jaws-of-victory-a-closer-look-at-the-choking-chargers). Let that sink in for a minute. Eight come-from-ahead losses among those 15 losses since 2015. 50% of losses came in the fourth quarter.
Mike McCoy is NOT a closer. The Chargers have proven that they are NOT closers under his watch.
Divisional games are super critical, right? I mean, each divisional game amounts to two games in the standings for all intents and purposes. Let’s look at divisional games, shall we? Winless in 2016. Winless! Meaning no wins. Zip, zilch, nada. In fact, the last divisional win was November 16, 2014 in a 13-6 barn-burner against the Raiders.
How about away games? One win in the last nine road games. One. That means 3-6 in the last nine home games. So much for home field advantage.
McCoy is a wannabe. He got dubbed a great offensive mind while in Denver. He got lucky with Tim Tebow. He was Peyton Manning’s OC for a year. That makes him a wannabe OC. Hell, Peyton could make ME look like a genius. He’s a wannabe Belichick with his snippy, cryptic, cliche-laced post-game pressers.
Don’t forget his clock management skills. I don’t know how many, but McCoy has left countless points on the board, failing to call time outs late in the first half with his offense driving.
Let’s get more recent — a timeout was called on defense in the fourth quarter against the Saints when Drew Brees had two seconds left on the play clock. Two seconds! Who the hell does that? Well, who besides the second coming of Norv Turner, that is.
Blame injuries all you want. As much as the cliché “next man up” is going to make me lose my lunch, it’s just that. A freaking cliché. Yeah, we miss Keenan Allen, but he’s one player. Who knows, we might even miss Manti T’eo.
Might. Again, one player.
I can’t simplify things more than this: Mike McCoy sucks. The Chargers suck with Mike McCoy as head coach. The time to fire him was yesterday and the day before that and the day before that….
The shootout in Mission Valley became just another 4th quarter collapse under Mike McCoy, who has seen his team fail to close out three games in the second half in the four opportunities of 2016.
The Chargers would fall to the Saints by a score of 35-34 in a contest that they most certainly should have won.
Sunday was no different, as the Bolts carried a 13-point lead into the 4th with 6:50 to go. The Chargers would then proceed to fumble on two consecutive drives; the first by Melvin Gordon and the second by Travis Benjamin.
The real story here is coaching, which if you’re a diehard Bolts fan like I have been, you’ve watched this team your whole life.
Since the miracle season in 2013 which honestly Norv Turner himself could’ve done that, this team has fallen off the rails. McCoy is 13-20 in that span, losing too many games by one score or less than one fan can remember.
If last year didn’t set a precedent, the start to this season should. Simply put, McCoy is not getting it done at the head coaching position. It’s time to make a change before this season gets too far out of reach for these Bolts to even catch a wildcard birth.
Duds of the game:
Melvin Gordon – Yes, he had two touchdowns for fantasy owners. Hooray…. For Bolts fans, this was his worst game of the season. He was never able to get going running the ball. Though the Saints were selling out to stop the run, it is fair to say that good running backs still find a way. His biggest miscue, fumbling the ball with just under seven minutes to go in the game, is something that is just unforgivable. Just hold on to it and live to fight another down for God’s sake!
Travis Benjamin – A miserable day as a receiver: four receptions for 48 yards. His biggest blunder coming a drive right after the Melvin Gordon Fumble, as he caught the ball and carelessly fumbled it, allowing the Saints to get the ball for a go-ahead TD.
Mike “Choke” McCoy – This may seem redundant, but I will do it anyway. What halftime adjustments did you give this team? What was the message given to this team going into the 4th? Whatever it was, it didn’t work.
Mike this loss and the other two fall right at your feet. For two weeks in a row your team had a lead and two weeks in a row they have found new ways to lose it. Here’s hoping the Spanos family wakes up and gives you the ax you deserve, ensuring that I don’t have to put you as dud for the rest of the season.
Dishonorable mentions: injuries at linebacker continuing to mount, DJ Fluker and Spencer Pulley
Studs of the game:
Hunter Henry – After a costly fumble last week as the Bolts were attempting a comeback, Henry had another solid week, gaining 61 yards on four receptions, including his first touchdown as a pro.
Dontrelle Inman – After lackluster games to begin the 2016 season, Inman had the game of his life, totaling 120 yards and a TD on seven receptions. You knew going into this game that the Saints would have hard time with all of the Chargers’ offensive weapons. Have a day, though, Inman.
Craig Mager – Was it just one interception? Yes. It should’ve been a key one if not for the offensive fumbles. Mager did his job, showing up and making a play for this team when it mattered most.
Honorable mentions: Philip Rivers, Jason Verrett(way to come back, kid) and Tyrell Williams
The 2016 season has not gone as hoped in the eyes of Chargers fans all over the world. Despite a heightened amount of excitement surrounding a strong free-agency period and draft, the team has struggled to close out games, losing three games in which they should have most definitely won; the Bolts should be 4-0, to be honest, and I think you all know that.
With that in mind, do you think the Chargers can rebound from their 1-3 record and put themselves into a position to compete for a playoff spot?
Let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below.
See what two of our writers, Zak Darman and Chris Hoke, have to say about whether or not the 2016 San Diego Chargers will make the playoffs this season.
Zak Darman: NO DEAL! The San Diego Chargers will NOT make the playoffs at years end.
The Chargers made some nice moves in the offseason to boost up their offense by signing wide receiver Travis Benjamin and center Matt Slauson. It is no secret that the offense is much improved, starting with the addition of offensive guru Ken Whisenhunt. The offense was looking very good in Week 1, right before Keenan Allen left that game with a torn ACL, ending his season. The running game looked much improved with a better and more decisive Melvin Gordon. The loss of Danny Woodhead from Sunday’s game against Jacksonville will hurt immensely, though, and they hope the recent signing of Dexter McCluster will help. We will see.
On defense, however, is where the weaknesses still stand out. The Bolts used the No. 3 overall selection on defensive end Joey Bosa, who has not played in a single game this season due to contract negotiations/injury, and brought in nose tackle Brandon Mebane, cornerback Casey Heyward and safety Dwight Lowery. I still don’t like this group because in my opinion they don’t have enough playmakers to take this team to the next level. Manti Te’o is below average and prior to being lost for the season due to injury, there was a question whether he should be starting or not. The safeties are a joke and the pass rush is still bad. Outside of Pro Bowler Jason Verrett, who else is there? It also does not help to have one of the worst defensive coordinators in all of football in John Pagano. Yes, the defense looked great in the first half vs KC but lets not forget that the Chiefs were without Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith was missing some wide open short route throws that he usually doesn’t miss. This unit has been overrated from the get-go and it needs to be addressed. The defense looked better in week 2, but that was against a young and inexperienced Jaguars team. On Sunday, Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton did what they wanted. Verrett wasn’t on his game and the defense had no shot.
First let me start by saying for the sake of this piece I will make a case for Mike McCoy even if my previous articles and opinions have stated otherwise. Mike McCoy has shown flashes of being a Coach who can lead this team. All of the losses, huge injuries, off the field drama with Eric Weddle and now Joey Bosa, has caused major distractions which is never a good recipe in the locker room. In this case for Mike McCoy winning fixes everything. Even through three major season-ending injuries to key players, this team is built to win and get deep into the playoffs. Here’s how:
As Zak had pointed out above, the improvement of this offense is the running game. Yes it is odd to say this, due to the horrible run game the Chargers have had in a long time, a running game is very much back in San Diego; maligned since the departure of Ken Whisenhunt and Ryan Mathews. It’s no coincidence that since his return to America’s finest city, the run game has been rejuvenated. Gordon, who had zero touchdowns last year, has already compiled four scores along with his first career 100 yard rushing game against the Jags. Follow that up with a passing attack, without Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead whom are both lost for the season, still has the weapons to be very dangerous. With the old reliable Antonio Gates on the sidelines, there is not much room for panic with the emergence of second round pick Hunter Henry. Even with the fumbled tragedy that ended any last ditched efforts for a win last week against the Colts, Hunter had a pretty solid game; breaking open for huge yards. Continuity between him and Rivers will only begin to grow more with each big play Hunter makes. The future is still bright for these Bolts offensively.
After being released from the Chargers after the 2012 season, former Head Coach Norv Turner was asked for a quote regarding the new incoming coaching staff. “They need to have a lot of patience with them.”
“Them” referencing all Charger fans.
Maybe we need to really forget about 2013 as maybe the Chargers caught lightning in a bottle with a group of talent that really wasn’t that good, at least defensively. Moving on to this year, it’s been four years and four drafts since Tom Telesco and company took over. Some naysayers have claimed that he has missed on players, but at the same time he has found some gems, such as Jason Verrett. There are others like Craig Mager and DJ Fluker where the verdict is still to be determined however in my opinion they are good additions to this team.
I will say that the defensive talent on this team, is what Pagano has been waiting for. We all have seen what Hayward has done thus far and of course what the Pro Bowler Verrett can do, but the key addition, in my opinion, is the addition to Brandon Mebane – whose presence alone has shifted protection schemes. That ability, to force opposition to change schemes, is not listed in the box score yet it creates room for the linebackers, such as new defensive captain Melvin Ingram, to reap the rewards.
The first round pick Joey Bosa has yet to take the field – signs pointing to week 5 or 6. The Chargers seem fine to just ease him in slowly rather to not risk further injury. Even with the loss of Manti Teo, Jatavis Brown stepped in and showed that he can be an instant playmaker. When Bosa does finally step in and is at game level, this defense will be headed to the next level. We already see what happens when Mebane is on the field and when you add in the beast Corey Liuget and Bosa – the three-headed monster will lead this team to playoffs and hopefully back to the Super Bowl.
In closing, if McCoy can remain aggressive, this team can and will make the playoffs. If his attitude is as assertive as I saw it to be in 2013, it will resonate throughout the whole locker room. As long as we do not continue to lose key players every week, this team has the talent to beat any team on any given Sunday. The defense could easily be ranked in the top five, sans injuries of course, and as we have seen in the past, defense wins championships. Toss in a future Hall of Fame quarterback, a running back who is so raw and talented, and a receiving core who has already manifested themselves as reliable, the San Diego Chargers will make it deep into the playoffs. Perhaps we will hear this again.
Let us know your opinion on whether or not the Chargers, as it stands, will make the playoffs this season.
Thanks for reading
Let me get right to the point: Mike McCoy should be on the hot seat this year.
The 2016 campaign begins his fourth year as the Chargers’ head coach and the team has steadily gone backwards under his watch. I really thought he was the antithesis of his predecessor, but that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
In 2013 (his rookie year as a head coach), we saw the Chargers (barely) make the postseason with a 9-7 record. They beat Cincinnati in the Wild Card round before falling to the Broncos in the Divisional Round. Frankly, the team exceeded my expectations.
Conversely, the Bolts failed to make the playoffs in 2014 and 2015. The 2014 season saw the Chargers mimic their 9-7 record. In 2015, the wheels fell off the bus and the Bolts finished with a pathetic 4-12 record.
A lot of people have given McCoy multiple passes. The destruction of the offensive lines because of injury. Every team sustains injuries. Nick Hardwick’s injury in ’14 was devastating, but good teams overcome those injuries. Add to that the fragility of Ryan Mathews and injuries to Jason Verrett, Jeromey Clary, and a host of other offensive linemen, Philip Rivers was running for his very life. The running game was largely ignored by the predictable and unimaginative play calling of Frank Reich. Even Norv Turner had a better imagination than Reich.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that Reich was let go after the 2015 campaign where the Chargers finished 4-12. The blame doesn’t rest there.
McCoy is a terrible clock manager. Several times during his three-year tenure, he has left points on the board by failing to properly manage the clock at the end of the first half. Normally, when confronted with his failure to use timeouts (you can’t bank ’em), his response was a cliché of some babble about doing what was in the team’s best interests.
Not scoring is in a team’s best interests?
And not overruling Reich on his play calling? Draw on third-and-18, anyone?
Yeah, yeah. Philip Rivers could have called out of said stupid play selection. That’s assuming you have a personnel package you can change out of a play with.
After the 2014 season, which many consider to be a renaissance for Philip Rivers, Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt was hired away from the Chargers to be the Head Coach of the Tennessee Titans. Guess what, kids? The Whiz is back as the Chargers OC, so I look for improvement in many facets of the Bolts’ game. I also take this as a sign from heaven. McCoys days are numbered. Why else would they bring Whiz back after being dealt the short straw in Nashville?
If the Chargers falter, if McCoy continues his, dare I say, Belichickian arrogance and cliché-ridden, no-answer answers with the media, they have his replacement waiting in the wings. Mike McCoy should be feeling the heat this year. The last thing the Chargers need is a crappy team while they’re trying to rally support for a downtown stadium.
Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments!
The San Diego Chargers emerge from their bye week with a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The 2-7 Bolts look to finish strong after a dismal 2-7 first half of the season. In the first two seasons of the Telesco/McCoy regime, San Diego finished with identical 9-7 records. In this third season they would have to run the table in the last seven games to finish with that mark.
The Chargers have five division games remaining, (they have lost one game to Oakland already), and two out of division games against Miami and Jacksonville. The odds of running the table are miniscule. Finishing with a .500 record is just as improbable. A top-10 selection in the NFL draft is more than likely barring a catastrophic turn of events.
A message will need to be sent if for no other reason than to show the fan base that such an outcome is not acceptable. Whether they stay in San Diego or move to Los Angeles, hope must be rekindled for this team and they way to do so will be with fresh faces calling the shots. Seats are getting hot in America’s Finest City. They will get hotter with each loss and hottest if the Chargers miss the playoffs. At this point, the playoffs are nothing more than a pipe dream.
Heads will roll. Here’s a look at the prime suspects and the temperature of their seat right now:
Dean Spanos. Rarely does the owner abandon ship on his team. He will point the finger of blame at his staff and remove the pieces he sees fit. Eyes do deserve to be on him for his frugality. If his miserly ways start to impact the NFL’s bottom line (dollars), he could be ‘nudged’ out the door. Spanos is well-liked among the other owners so the probability of that happening right now is less than zero.
Something radical would have to occur such as local fans boycotting the games to the point where it becomes painstakingly obvious when games are shown live. This approach was successful as recently as 2012 in Major League Baseball in the case of the Los Angeles Dodgers ex-owner Frank McCourt. Do Chargers fans care enough to band together on this course of action if they thought underspending is the chief cause of the Bolts failures? That is the million dollar question.
John Pagano. The defensive coordinator has not shown improvement since taking over the position in 2012. In his first year the Bolts finished 24th in the league in total defense. In 2013 they moved up to 10th. Last season the Chargers plummeted back to 24th. Nine games into this season San Diego is 9th in total defense but giving up 28 points per game. The next seven games could have a huge impact on whether Pags stays or goes.
Tom Telesco. The Chargers General Manager is on the hook for the Chargers failings as much as any member of the team. At the end of the day, Telesco is the decision-maker. The team is a reflection of his vision. It was Telesco’s choice to resurrect the philosophy he used in Indianapolis of jettisoning the veteran players and bringing in young, untested and hungry players who were capable of playing multiple positions. The GM is quickly finding out that what works in one place doesn’t automatically work elsewhere.
Telesco has done admirable work building the team through the draft. Cornerstones of the future have been unearthed with the drafting of WR Keenan Allen, RT D.J. Fluker, CB Jason Verrett and RB Melvin Gordon. A disturbing fact is of the 17 players Telesco has drafted, only one has played a complete season (Fluker). Gordon and Kyle Emanuel are on pace to do so this season.
Helping Telesco is his savvy with contracts and getting players to come in free agency and add impact. RB Danny Woodhead, RT King Dunlap, CB Brandon Flowers and G Orlando Franklin have been key additions. His front office could have done better to keep revered veterans such as S Eric Weddle in the loop when it comes to contract issues as that could affect future free agent signings and keeping his own players down the road. If the Chargers finish with a losing record the pressure will be turned up on the GM to produce or he too will be looking for work elsewhere sooner than later.
Kevin Turner. The special teams coordinator of the Chargers is having a dreadful year. Through eight games the Bolts had one punt return yard with Jacoby Jones as the primary return man. Meanwhile, opponents have accumulated 276 punt return yards. For the ninth game Jones was cut and Javontee Herndon was promoted from the practice squad to assume the kick and punt return duties. Herndon had one kick return for 24 yards in the game, surpassing Jones’ kickoff return average of 21.4 through eight games. The special teams have been a weakness all season, giving a big field position advantage to the opposition and not gaining yards in the return game. Should this pattern continue, Turner will be cleaning out his office at Chargers Park.
Ninth Circle of Hell
Frank Reich. The Bolts offensive coordinator has definitely been offensive. The offense has been difficult to watch at times as the play calls get more and more predictable. We can all see the inside handoff coming from the pistol formation before it happens. The OC seems unwilling to vary from his game plan to accommodate his talent. The pistol formation and no-huddle offense has been advantageous for Philip Rivers at times. However, with a power running back who thrived running out of the I-formation with a fullback opening the first hole why not adapt that into the game plan?
Melvin Gordon set NCAA records and ran for over 2,500 yards at Wisconsin last season. Ladarius Green and Antonio Gates would be a matchup nightmare for defenses if they were to be deployed on the field at the same time. Injuries, suspension and Reich’s unwillingness to add new wrinkles have prevented this from happening on more than just random occasions. With Reich coordinating the offense, the Chargers are averaging 23 points per game, five fewer than they’re giving up. The window on Philip Rivers career is quickly closing and it’s the wrong time to be going the wrong way in the production department. If San Diego fails this season, Reich will be the first man shown the door.
Mike McCoy. The head coach was the marquee hire when the Chargers landed him as the successor to Norv Turner. The man lauded for his yeoman’s work adapting his coaching style to fit his quarterbacks such as Tim Tebow, Jake Delhomme and Peyton Manning. His teachings resulted in wins and playoff berths and the same was expected when he took over the reins in San Diego.
Instead, the team has underachieved. Many games have been lost in the final quarter or on the final drive. McCoy has been very conservative in his play-calling. Favoring a ball-control, short-passing, long scoring drive preference the Chargers have very little vertical offense. Rivers, an excellent deep ball passer, goes deep a couple of times per game if that. This team lacks a killer instinct. They lack an ability to finish games and that reflects coaching.
To boot, McCoy is in the third year of a four-year deal. He’s been paid most of what he signed for and it wouldn’t be a big financial hit to let him go a year early. San Diego hadn’t made the playoffs for three seasons before McCoy arrived. They made it to the playoffs the year McCoy arrived and won a wild card game that season. This season, barring a miracle, will be the second year in a row the playoffs have eluded the Chargers. This team is as talented as any in the league but they do not have the results to show for it. Unless they can rebound and finish at .500 someone has to take the fall for this season. Usually the head coach us that man.
In closing, injuries can’t be blamed for everything. Yes, injuries have derailed a very promising season. Keenan Allen was on a record-setting pace. Coaches are paid big bucks to get the most out of their talent regardless of who is on the field. Management is paid big bucks to find the best players to suit the team needs.
San Diego was sitting at 2-2 before they lost to Green Bay and Pittsburgh on the last play of the game. Same thing would happen in Baltimore two weeks later. Aside from the games against Minnesota and Oakland the Chargers have played as well or better than their opponent despite the end result. There are no moral victories in the NFL and when you don’t win, people lose. Don’t expect to see half the names on this list wearing lightning bolts next season.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Who’s to blame for the Bolts performance this season? Leave your thoughts below.
The Greg One
This week the Bolts play the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are a very good team, especially with Adrian Peterson back on their roster this season. They have a solid defense, too. This will be another good challenge for the Chargers on the road.
Here are my three key players to watch:
– Philip Rivers
We all know Rivers is one of the best in the business. Head coach Mike Zimmer of the Vikings believes that statement, saying that Rivers is “A great competitor” and that he is “extremely accurate”. Rivers has completed 55 of 68 passes for 644 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions through two weeks of the 2015 season. Those numbers are good for a completion percentage 80.9%. Not a bad start for him. Rivers’ last pass was an interception on the final drive in last week’s loss against the Bengals. I believe Rivers rebounds this week and helps the Chargers get the win against the Vikings.
– Melvin Gordon
Gordon showed last week that he has a lot to prove to the coaches and the fans. He had three runs that went for over 20 yards last week. Gordon has to be hungry for his first rushing touchdown, as well. We are entering Week 3 and he has zero touchdowns at this point. Look for Gordon to get a lot of touches this week against a good Vikings’ defense.
– Brandon Flowers
We are all too familiar with the Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner. The long-time offensive coordinator, and head coach for the Chargers, is a pass-heavy play caller. Flowers was burned for touchdowns three times by the Bengals last week. That was Flowers’ worst game as a Charger, by far. Expect him to get back on track this week with some key pass defenses and maybe an interception. I wouldn’t doubt his chances of it with the play calling of Norv.
These are my key players to watch for against the Vikings on Sunday. They all need to step up tomorrow if the Chargers have any chance at winning this game.
Let me know what you guys think in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
Rick Reiff, Jr.
Articles from Chargers.com:
- Scouting Report: Chargers at Vikings
- X’s and O’s: Rivers’ record-breaker
- Bolts sign WR Williams to practice squad
- I’ve been looking forward to this by Ladarius Green
Articles from ESPN.com:
- Mike Zimmer calls Philip Rivers one of the best of all-time
- NFL owners take lead on relocation to Los Angeles
- Jimmy Wilson makes his mark in expanded role
Articles from San Diego Union-Tribune: