All choices in life work better in hindsight. We have the benefit of knowledge and perspective that we simply could not have, without the advantage of advanced time. Selecting an NFL head coach is no simple task. Rungs of men spend years advancing through the ranks to be able to even qualify for an NFL head coaching interview.
The Chargers, surprisingly for NFL standards, gave Anthony Lynn a robust four years to prove his worth as a head coach. After one good season, he seemed like a deer caught in the headlights. All the experience and knowledge in the world won’t matter when you’re the final shot caller of a team. The pressure adds a layer that cannot be anticipated. String together a few bad decisions, and the NFL media will hang it around your neck for the rest of your career.
Then that begs the question, who would be a better fit for the Chargers this upcoming season, an offensive or defensive-minded head coach?
I looked at the team stats, other NFL team stats, thought about what would be best for business, and generally where this team’s future is headed. After mulling over a number of factors, I have ultimately decided: it doesn’t matter.
Whether the next guy that comes in is an offensive or defensive guy is sort of irrelevant. But only because this Chargers team is a bit of a unicorn. A team with a better than average offense and defense, that was sort of banged up. They have superstar talent on both sides of the ball, and they have a franchise quarterback on a rookie deal.
The reason I say the type of coach doesn’t matter is that this team is seriously talented, with some possible future Hall of Famers in their midst. At this point, they really just need someone to come in and bring culture. Someone who knows how to manage men, and get 52 players plus coaches to buy into doing their jobs. Making people check their egos at the door and not being afraid to stand behind decisions.
The Chargers history under the Spanos family suggests that they will go with an offensive coach. This argument might make sense especially considering how good Herbert was this year. The common trend over the last decade is about trying to find the next coach who is going to lead to an offensive explosion like Sean McVay did a few years ago. A lot of teams will even pair their coaches with a complimentary staff of experience like the Rams did with Wade Phillips. Or teams will take an experienced guy at HC, and maybe bring on some innovators at the coordinator spot. It really all depends on the team and the head coach. Some head coaches even end up being part-time GM’s for their ballclub.
Whatever the Chargers come up with next, the choice doesn’t really matter. In the last 10 years, the mainstay of successful coaches Belicheck, Payton, Harbough, Carroll, Reid, all have come from different backgrounds. It’s almost a 1-1 pick ’em on whether they’re offensive or defensive-minded. What these head coaches do successfully regardless of their background, is command men. A head coach is the melting point with the front office and their players and is probably the most important and the hardest job within the franchise.
Whoever the Chargers pick next, needs to be a home run pick. Tom Telesco has already signed off on a lengthy search, and that makes the most sense to me. The Chargers are looking for a Ron Rivera effect, where even through years of garbage a great head coach will make any locker room buy-in.
The roster is young and talented, so whatever coach can come in and set the tone is going to be the most successful one. You can win a Super Bowl having a dominant offense or defense. You can win by being good on both sides of the ball, but you cannot ever win with a head coach that players don’t respect. With a head coach that doesn’t make players feel like professionals who are being sent out with the most preparation to make them successful. That is what the Chargers need now, experience, and fortitude more than ever.
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