The Los Angeles Chargers have announced their interim replacements for former head coach Brandon Staley and former General Manager Tom Telesco. Both were fired earlier on Friday. The Chargers have named outside linebackers coach Giff Smith will take over as Chargers interim head coach and director of player personnel JoJo Wooden will be the team’s interim general manager.
The choice of Giff Smith over offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley leaves their near futures with the club up in the air. It also signals the Chargers brass are looking for the stability of long-time team members and experience over youth and innovation. Will that continue into their search for a new head coach after the season?
Chargers Interim Head Coach Giff Smith
Smith has been with the Chargers organization since 2016 and was previously the edge rushers coach. In the NFL, he got his coaching start with the Chan Gailey-led Buffalo Bills, where he worked under defensive coordinator, Dave Wanstedt. In 2014-15, he worked under long-time Steelers DB’s coach, Ray Horton in Tennessee. He also worked in the college ranks for Georgia Southern (1996-98), Tulane (1999-2003) and Georgia Tech (2004-09). Georgia Southern was his first and only official foray into offensive coaching.
The Mableton, Georgia native was a three-time All-America defensive end at Georgia Southern and a team captain as a senior. Smith was a part of three NCAA I-AA national title teams for the Eagles and is a member of the Georgia Southern Athletic Hall of Fame.
Chargers Interim Head Coach JoJo Wooden
JoJo Wooden joined the then-San Diego Chargers organization in 2013 as the director of player personnel. His career in the NFL started with the New York Jets, where he spent 15 years climbing the executive ladder. He joined the franchise in 1997 as a pro personnel assistant, then as a scout, eventually being named director of pro scouting and then assistant director of player personnel in 2007
While with the Chargers, he received interviews for general manager positions with several other teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Commanders, and Chicago Bears.
Wooden studied sociology at Syracuse University and played outside linebacker for the Orangemen. He was signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent but did not make the roster. He pivoted to coaching, taking a position as assistant coach at Simsbury High School for a season, then coached at the American International College from 1994-1996.