Top 5 Chargers Head Coaching Candidates Not Named Jim Harbaugh

The Chargers head coach search has been speeding along. Who should they still consider?

Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Chargers are interviewing candidates for head coach and general manager daily, and have had quite a few interviews with some good candidates so far ( including Jim Harbaugh of the University of Michigan). With all the head coaching changes last week across the league and the playoff games of this past weekend, here are some more candidates that the Chargers should consider: 

Top Chargers Head Coaching Candidates

1. Bill Belichick, Former Head Coach of the Patriots  

The Bill Belichick rumors have been swirling around for months as many think that LA is a great landing place for him. Given his experience and the fact that he’s won multiple Super Bowls alone, he is qualified to take a stab at turning this team around.

He’s also a defensive genius and even though the New England Patriots had a losing season this past year, their defense grade according to Pro Football Focus (PFF) was still 72.7, ranking 17th in the league.

Given his age, how long he may want to take on a new coaching position may be a factor, but for now, he’s ready to take on a new challenge, and with a franchise quarterback like Justin Herbert, this may be a perfect match for him. 

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Chargers Head Coaching Candidate: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

2. Pete Carroll, Former Head Coach of the Seahawks 

When the news broke that Pete Carroll was no longer going to be the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, some of the NFL Live crew last Wednesday were already saying that the Chargers may be a good landing spot. His tendency to win at the college level and in the NFL already makes him an attractive candidate, but the fact that he coached Russell Wilson through the best years of his career is another factor.

In his prime, Wilson was a mobile, deep-shot quarterback, and he showed signs of that this past season, but not enough to stay as a starter. Geno Smith has also thrived under Carroll, especially in 2022.

Some great offensive players were also drafted under Carroll’s tenure, including in recent years wide receivers D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and running back Kenneth Walker III.

Not only do the Chargers need to make it into the postseason, they also need to win the draft, and Carroll could be the one to help them do both. 

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans
Chargers Head Coaching Candidate: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

3. Bobby Slowik, Offensive Coordinator, Houston Texans 

Though it was reported that Bobby Slowik is not focused on head coaching jobs right now as he has his mind on the playoffs, it would be nice to imagine that if he was interviewing, perhaps the Chargers would call.

In his first year as an offensive coordinator with the Houston Texans, he’s been impressive. Quarterback C.J. Stroud has broken multiple records in his rookie year, while simultaneously making stars out of veteran wide receiver Nico Collins and a rookie wide receiver Tank Dell.

The passing game has looked explosive with these deep passes and great receiving talent. If Slowik can do all this with a rookie quarterback and some young receivers, it bodes well for what he would be able to do with more veteran players like Herbert and wide receiver Keenan Allen, players who are already really good and need that extra oomph. 

It would also be interesting to see his draft influence, given his experience not only in Houston but also in San Francisco in numerous offensive positions as well as with the defense as a quality control coach in 2017.

San Francisco has an explosive offense and defense, and the Chargers could certainly use some of their mojo. Slowik would be the perfect person for both sides of the ball and after Houston’s win on Saturday, he’s going to be even more coveted than before. 

Syndication: The Record
Chargers Head Coaching Candidate: Chris Pedota, / USA TODAY NETWORK Credit: Chris Pedota, / USA TODAY NETWORK

4. Jeff Ulbrich, Defensive Coordinator, Jets 

Jeff Ulbrich has been the defensive coordinator for the New York Jets since 2021 and in that time, with the addition of cornerback Sauce Gardener in 2022, the unit has become particularly unstoppable. In 2022, Garnder ranked first according to PFF in receiver coverage, and for the 2023 season ranks second.

The defense is first in 2023 (90.1), sixth in pass rush (81.8), and first in receiver coverage (94.4).

During the Chargers game against the Jets in Week 9, Herbert was sacked five times. The Jets were merciless during that matchup, and are always aggressive, keeping this team in contention despite all the quarterback changes.

The Chargers defense desperately needs some of what Ulbrich brought to New York. Ulbrich’s defensive coaching experience, his playing experience as a former linebacker, and also his work with special teams earlier in his career, make him able to impact many parts of the Chargers. 

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys
Chargers Head Coaching Candidate: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

5. Mike McCarthy, Head Coach of the Cowboys

Despite losing the playoff game against the Packers on Sunday, McCarthy has implemented a solid team in Dallas. Receiver CeeDee Lamb had career-highs in receiving yards (1,859) and receiving touchdowns (12) in his fourth season, while tight end Jake Ferguson has emerged as one of their go-to weapons. Dak Prescott had his best year, career-highs in passing yards (4,922) and passing touchdowns (39). And on defense, according to PFF, the Dallas Cowboys rank fifth (84.7), seventh in run defense (70.3), first in tackling (82.4), second in pass rush (90.9), and ninth in receiver coverage (81.8). 

Linebacker Micah Parsons continues to be an unstoppable force, appearing in multiple defensive positions, so opponents don’t quite know where he’ll attack next. Cornerback DaRon Bland improved in all areas of play this season in only his second year in the league.

The team has been in the playoffs for the last three years under McCarthy and though they tend always to combust when the pressure gets high, at least they’re making it to the postseason. McCarthy has a lot of experience on offense and it would be great to reunite him with Kellen Moore to see if they can make the Chargers offense as explosive as Dallas’.

With McCarthy’s experience coaching quarterbacks, he’ll be able to add to Herbert’s already impressive play. The Cowboys may be making a mistake if they do choose to let him go, but if the Chargers scoop him up, it would be a win for LA.