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!