With the recent dismissal of head coach Brandon Staley, the Los Angeles Chargers have started a major shift in their franchise landscape. Staley’s tenure, beginning in January 2021 after his stint as the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, was marked by optimism and innovative defensive strategies under Sean McVay.
However, the team’s underperformance this season, culminating in a disappointing 5-9 record and a fourth-place standing in the AFC West, led to his release. Thursday night’s game against the Raiders was the final nail in the coffin, as the once defensive-minded head coach who led the Rams to the best defense in 2020, let up 63 points against the 6-8 Raiders with a backup quarterback and missing their star runningback.
The Chargers’ search for a new head coach is crucial, given the fact that the franchise hasn’t been past the first round of the playoffs since 2018, last played in an AFC Championship in 2007, and hasn’t made a Super Bowl in nearly 30 years.
Let’s evaluate the under-the-radar Chargers head coaching candidates:
1. Bobby Slowik (Houston Texans OC):
Bobby Slowik’s impressive work in developing talent is evident in the performances of rookie QB C.J. Stroud and WR Tank Dell. Stroud’s outstanding rookie season, with 3,632 yards and 20 TDs, alongside Dell’s 709 receiving yards and 7 TDs, underscores Slowik’s offensive prowess. His approach could greatly benefit Justin Herbert, offering innovative offensive strategies and potentially elevating the Chargers’ offense.
2. Eric Bieniemy (Washington Commanders OC):
Eric Bieniemy’s impact on the Commanders’ offense has been positive, contributing to their 4,370 total offensive yards and Sam Howell‘s 3,466 passing yards, the fifth-highest in the league. His experience could be vital in revitalizing the Chargers’ offense, especially in a division known for high-scoring games.
3. Raheem Morris (Los Angeles Rams DC):
Raheem Morris brings a defensive perspective, crucial for a division packed with potent offenses. The Rams have allowed 4,419 offensive yards in 2023, and the average fan most likely couldn’t name anyone on their defense except for Aaron Donald. Morris’s background in defensive strategy and his experience as a former head coach could provide the Chargers with a balanced approach, potentially strengthening their defense to complement their offensive capabilities. The real question with Morris is be hiring a defensive coach, would the Chargers make the same choice twice?
4. Jim Schwartz (Cleveland Browns DC):
Jim Schwartz’s tenure with the Browns has seen them allow 3419 offensive yards and 30 touchdowns in 2023, leading one of the NFL’s top units. This experience in managing defenses, combined with his past as a head coach, offers the Chargers a candidate with a comprehensive understanding of the game. His approach could be vital in building a resilient defense while providing overall team leadership.
5. Brian Johnson (Philadelphia Eagles OC):
As a relatively new name in the coaching circles, Brian Johnson’s work with the Eagles’ offense, particularly in developing Jalen Hurts, is noteworthy. His innovative offensive mind could be a great asset for maximizing Justin Herbert’s potential.
The Chargers’ choice of head coach will significantly depend on their desired direction. Whether prioritizing offensive innovation with candidates like Slowik and Bieniemy or seeking a defensive mind under Morris or Schwartz, one of these under-the-radar Chargers head coaching candidates could be the one shaping the team’s future.