The Leadership Of Anthony Lynn—A Catalyst To Past Organization Ineptitude

LA Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn. Photo Credit: The LAFB Network
LA Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn. Photo Credit: The LAFB Network

Let’s just deal with the Chargers of the 2000s. Ineptitude may not be the correct word, impatience, stubbornness, or just wrong man, wrong time.

And now there is no doubt that these are unprecedented times. There is also no doubt that Anthony Lynn is the right man, right time. You need more convincing, let’s look at past men in past times.

Mike Riley, 1999-2001 (14-34)

8-8 First Season

1-15 Second Season (The worst year in franchise history)

5-11 Third Season

Perhaps this explains Riley’s tenure in a nutshell.  When asked “If you could have done anything differently during your time coaching the Chargers, what would it have been?”  Riley answered, “I wouldn’t have done it.”

Marty Schottenheimer, 2002-06 (47-33)

8-8 First Season

4-12 Second Season

12-4 Third Season

9-7 Fourth Season

14-2 Fifth Season

Yes, you read that right, Schottenheimer was fired after completing a 14-2 season. While it is true that his post-season record was abysmal, the last straw was perhaps the loss to the New England Patriots in the first round of the playoff in 2006. The Chargers were of course the favorite, at home, leading 21-13 in the fourth quarter, only to lose to the Patriots 21-24.

It was player induced (fumble) and it was bad time management, bad decisions (going for fourth-and-11 from the New England 30 in the first quarter), and…what about that kicker?.

This would be the sixth straight loss in the post-season going back to 1993. It was also the ninth time a team coached by Schottenheimer lost its opening playoff game. So there is that.

And then there was the palpable dysfunction between the head coach and the then general manager A.J. Smith. There was the attempt by Schottenheimer to hire his brother as defensive coordinator, which apparently went against Dean Spanos’ team dynamic philosophy. And of course the abysmal playoff record.

Norv Turner, 2007-2012 (56-40)

11-5 First Season

8-8 Second Season

13-3 Third Season

9-7 Fourth Season

8-8 Fifth Season

7-9 Sixth Season

Turner led the Chargers to the AFC Championship game in 2007. That was the good. He then failed to get the Chargers into the playoffs in his last three seasons. Why? Turner has been accused of bad clock management, lack of improvisation coupled with the inability to coordinate a winning offense, defense, and special teams did not help.

Turner was working with quarterback Philip Rivers, running back LaDainian Tomlinson, tight end Antonio Gates and wide receiver Vincent Jackson and was unable to get his team deep into post-season.

So when Spanos fired both Turner and general manager Smith, it wasn’t really a surprise.

Mike McCoy, 2013-2017 (27-37)

9-7 First Season

9-7 Second Season

4-12 Third Season

5-11 Fourth Season

What was a surprise was the hiring of the youngest head coach in Chargers history, McCoy. It was widely believed that McCoy, like some other coaches, benefited from calling plays in a Peyton Manning offense. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that he also led Tim Tebow‘s Broncos to a playoff win.

It wasn’t enough to steer the Chargers to the Super Bowl. A Sports Illustrated article went with the headline Mike McCoy Named Chargers’ Top Scapegoat of Last Decade. That’s harsh. Especially as it goes on to reassert the claim that McCoy “wasted some of Philip Rivers final good years”.

McCoy survived a 4-12 season when seven of his assistants did not, including offensive coordinator and now Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich. It was short-lived. He was fired the next season after the Chargers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, 37-27, ending the season at 5-11.

Anthony Lynn, 2017- (26-22)

9-7 First Season

12-4 Second Season

5-11 Third Season

Lynn is the Chargers’ first African-American head coach in its 56-year history. Someday that won’t be newsworthy.

So far Lynn has taken the Chargers to one playoff victory but no divisional titles. Last season was one to forget with the injuries, the interceptions, and the last-minute losses that Charger Nation is so familiar too.

  • Since 2006 the Chargers have lost 65 games by seven points or less.
  • The Chargers have the largest differential in the league between their winning percentage and their winning percentage in one-score games.

2019 Season

  • Keenan Allen and Mike Williams finished the season with over 1,000 receiving yards and Austin Ekeler finished with 993 receiving yards.
  • Cornerback Casey Hayward had a PFF grade of 83 with 28 solo tackles, two interceptions, targeted 48 times with 27 receptions allowed.

But the team finished the season 5-11. It led to the departure of the only quarterback the Chargers have seen under center since 2004. Rivers finished the season with 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. His completion percentage was 66 percent, not the worst of his career, but it was the timing of the interceptions and the incompletions that was worrisome.

Now Lynn will lead the Los Angeles Chargers through a season with no preseason, limited training camp, a pandemic, and social unrest. And while some voice the opinion that “social unrest” should not be part of “sports”, that’s ridiculous. Football players are humans. To think that they are not affected by what happens in their world is taking humanity out of individuals.

This team is built to win and ultimately Lynn will be judged on his win-loss record. But today, the man who has had Covid-19, the man who knows what it is to be seen before being evaluated, is the only man the Chargers need.

“Be patient, man. Be patient. Fellas, this year is not like any year we’ve had in the National Football League. There’s going to be chaos. It’s going to change and it’s going to come every single day. The goals, the objectives, will not change.”

This was Lynn’s Zoom message to his players. In an unprecedented time, Lynn is just the sturdy structure the Chargers need.

Talk at me on Twitter @neverenoughglt