The Los Angeles Chargers coaching search to replace Brandon Staley is officially underway. As the NFL coaching carousel heats up, there is a flurry of Chargers coaching rumors. We’ll keep you updated on every head coaching candidate Los Angeles is after.
We already knew that Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh would be one of the Chargers’ top targets. There is also buzz out of Los Angeles connecting the team to Bill Belichick. Experience is something the franchise wants, but it isn’t a job requirement.
Not only will we be tracking the latest Chargers coaching rumors, but we’ll also provide quick analyses on the coaches that Los Angeles is bringing in. Part of this process is exploratory, with the team just wanting to gain more information with outside eyes providing new perspectives.
Let’s dive into the latest Chargers coaching rumors with a look at which coaching candidates the Chargers are interested in and will interview.
Los Angeles Chargers coaching rumors: Interview tracker
Here’s a running list of the coaching candidates that the Los Angeles Chargers have requested interviews with since Black Monday.
Mike Macdonald, Baltimore Ravens
While Jim Harbaugh seems to be the coaching candidate linked to Los Angeles most frequently, one of Harbaugh’s former assistants is emerging as a viable option for the Chargers. Los Angeles formally requested an interview with Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald.
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After coordinating Michigan’s defense in 2021, Macdonald returned to the NFL in Baltimore. From the second half of the 2022 season to the end of Week 18 this past season, the Ravens had the second-best defense in the NFL. Not only is Macdonald well-liked by players, but his defensive intellect and creativity make him one of the top coaching candidates in 2024.
Patrick Graham, Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator
One of the first candidates brought in during the Chargers coaching search was Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. While the veteran defensive play-caller didn’t have a ton of talent to work with in Las Vegas, he still produced a top-10 defense in the second half of the regular season.
Graham, who turns 45 in late January, has been coaching in the NFL since 2009. He worked on Bill Belichick’s staff from 2009-’19, before stints with the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers and Miami Dolphins. Following two successful runs as a defensive coordinator, Graham is now starting to generate some head-coach interest.
Todd Monken, Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator
Immediately after the Chargers coaching search kicked off, Los Angeles reached out to the Baltimore Ravens. Coaches on the best team in the NFL always get attention, especially when they are one of the biggest reasons for a team’s success.
Todd Monken won two national championships as the Georgia Bulldogs play-caller and worked with the team’s quarterbacks. Before that, he was a very good offensive coordinator in the NFL, with stops in Tampa Bay and Cleveland. In Baltimore, however, we’ve seen Monken’s best work.
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One quality Monken offers that should be appealing is how he constructs an offense. Upon arrival in Baltimore, the new Ravens’ offensive coordinator immediately went to Lamar Jackson for input on putting together the playbook. Great coaches don’t just find ways to put their best players in a position, they allow their players to be a part of the coaching process. Monken’s ability to be versatile with his offenses would be very beneficial to the Chargers and Herbert.
Ben Johnson, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator
The Chargers, like every other NFL team with a head-coaching vacancy, filed an interview request with the Detroit Lions to meet with offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. While there are several clubs that likely have no shot at landing the most in-demand coaching candidate in 2024, Los Angeles might.
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As the Lions’ play-caller, Ben Johnson has done wonders. Jared Goff looked like nothing more than a pedestrian starting quarterback in his final seasons with Sean McVay. Almost immediately upon his arrival in Detroit, Goff started putting up numbers nearly as good as the best quarterbacks in football.
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Johnson is one of the best play-callers in the NFL right now, arguably only behind McVay and Kyle Shanahan. He’s hidden Jared Goff’s weaknesses, held his own against the best defensive coordinators in the NFL and created a high-scoring and efficient offense. Don’t be surprised if there are a lot of Chargers coaching rumors tying Johnson to Los Angeles, because he could emerge as their second-favorite option behind Jim Harbaugh.
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Aaron Glenn, Detroit Lions defensive coordinator
One of the biggest knocks on Brandon Staley during his Chargers’ tenure, besides the on-field issues, was his personality. Colleagues, peers and players found him to be arrogant and he carried himself in a way that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Those traits can be tolerated if you’re winning, but Staley couldn’t back up the arrogance.
Aaron Glenn is the opposite. In January, the NFL Players Association released the results of an anonymous poll regarding the reputations of coordinators. Universally, Glenn is beloved. The Lions’ defensive coordinator was rated No. 1 for positively impacting players and ensuring their voices are heard. While that might not sound like an important component to winning, the best teams in football are great in part because they have buy-in from the locker room. Glenn, a disciple of Sean Payton and Dan Campbell, would bring that voice to the Chargers’ locker room.
Steve Wilks, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator
Steve Wilks was a finalist for the Carolina Panthers’ coaching vacancy in 2023 thanks to his excellent stint as the team’s interim coach. After being passed on by Carolina, he quickly replaced DeMeco Ryans as the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator.
- San Francisco 49ers defensive stats (Weeks 10-18): 78.3 QB rating allowed, 10-11 TD-INT rate, 3.3 sacks per game, 201.2 pass ypg, 92.9 rush ypg
After the 49ers acquired edge rusher Chase Young, pairing him with Nick Bosa, San Francisco had one of the best defenses in the NFL. Wilks does have head-coaching experience, with one lone season with the Arizona Cardinals. While they did finish with one of the worst records in the NFL, Wilks also had one of the league’s worst rosters. Around the league, Wlks is highly regarded for his leadership and defensive mind.
Dan Quinn, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator
The Chargers officially submitted an interview request to the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday to speak with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. The former Atlanta Falcons head coach joined the Cowboys in 201, taking over a unit that was one of the worst defenses in the NFL a year prior. Quinn’s three seasons in Dallas are just one of the reasons he’s the most coveted defensive mind in the NFL coaching carousel.
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While Quinn is remembered for Atlanta’s blown 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl, he also has one of the most glowing reputations among coaches in the NFL. He’s beloved by both coaches and players, with the NFLPA’s player poll recognizing Quinn for his positive, collaborative coaching style.
Hiring Quinn would mean the Chargers are banking on a home-run hire at offensive coordinator, which could include retaining Kellen Moore given the two worked together in Dallas. While that might feel like running it back, Quinn has a far better track record of defensive success than Staley and their reputations as coaches are polar opposites.
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Raheem Morris, Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator
As previously mentioned, a common theme in Chargers coaching rumors has been the team’s preference for experience. Betting on an unproven, young coach backfired last time and that has the franchise exploring alternatives. It’s just one of the reasons why Los Angeles requested an interview with Raheem Morris.
“He’s been the same great coach that I’ve always known. He’s a great leader. He elevates people and situations that he’s a part of and I think that’s the greatest sign of leadership. We always talk about trying to help guys reach and realize their highest potential. I think we’re seeing a lot of growth and development from a lot of people that he has an influence on.”Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay on defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.
As the Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator, Morris played a ole in the breakout seasons from rookies Kobie Turner and Byron Young. More importantly than that, he’s well-known for his leadership and teaching. As for his previous head-coaching experience, he took the Tampa Bay Buccaneers jo at 33 years old with just one season of experience as a defensive coordinator. He’s learned a lot in the decade-plus since being fired and after learning from Sean McVay for a few years, many around the NFL believe Morris has earned a shot to be a head coach again.
Leslie Frazier, former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator
Once a head coach with the Minnesota Vikings (2011-’13), Leslie Frazier spent the 2023 season out of the NFL. He had previously served for three seasons as the Buffalo Bills assistant head coach and defensive coordinator working alongside Sean McDermott to orchestrate a top-10 defense. However, McDermott made a change after several disappointing performances by the Bills’ defense in the playoffs. Frazier wants to return to the sideline in 2024, but it seems unlikely his opportunity will come as a head coach.