The Los Angeles Chargers hired Brandon Staley as head coach in 2021 with the hope that the bright, young mind could put the team over the top. Three years later, a new Chargers coaching search is underway and it could take the franchise in a surprising decision.
Throughout NFL history, there’s a tendency for teams with NFL coaches fired to pursue a new head coach who is very different than his predecessor. If the previous head coach was offensive-minded and served as the play-caller, a club might prefer to pursue a defensive head coach the next time around.
It’s why many have thought the Chargers coaching search would take them in a different direction this time around. After hiring a promising up-and-comer with limited coaching experience, especially in the NFL, most around the league presumed Los Angeles would prioritize experience in 2024. It appears that’s not necessarily the case.
According to Dianna Russini of The Athletic, Chargers’ ownership is “casting a wide net” for head-coaching candidates which not only includes top offensive and defensive coordinators, but coaches from the college ranks as well.
The success rate of college coaches making the jump to the NFL isn’t high. While Jim Harbaugh would be an obvious outlier, considering his outstanding NFL head-coaching experience, Russini’s reporting suggests there will be others.
A recent look at college football coaches who made the jump to the NFL highlights the difficult transition. Kliff Kingsbury, Urban Meyer, Matt Rhule, Greg Schiano, and Chip Kelly all flamed out at the highest level with losing records. Considering how imperative it is for Los Angeles to find a head coach who can win quickly with Justin Herbert, rolling the dice on a college coach outside of Harbaugh is risky.
It’s why many of the top NFL coaching candidates in 2024 are defensive and offensive coordinators at the highest level. While they lack head coaching experience, they know how to interact with and coach NFL players.
If Harbaugh’s asking price proves to be too high for the Chargers’ ownership, it would not be a surprise if Los Angeles focused on experienced NFL coaches. While there remain risks in hiring a play-caller without experience as a head coach, it’s a better bet for Los Angeles than hiring from the college ranks.