It´s on! – The Chargers Head Coach Hunt 2013

As expected, many coaches and front-office personnel were “sacked” right after the last regular season games. But this “Black Monday” also had a (little) surprise in store: The Bears parted ways with Lovie Smith after working together for nine years.

The Bears had a great start to the season, winning seven of their first eight games, but then slowed down a bit and ended the season with a record of 10-6, coming up just short of making the playoffs.

What else went down on Black Monday?

Arizona Cardinals: Fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves.
Cleveland Browns: Head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert, both are out.
Kansas City Chiefs: Our division rivals parted ways with head coach Romeo Crennel and fired general manager Scott Piolli with a four-days delay on Friday, but already signed a new head man – see below…
Philadelphia Eagles: Andy Reid had to leave, but already got signed by the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday.
Buffalo Bills: Head coach Chan Gailey was let go after three seasons. This weekend they found a new coach in Doug Marrone.

Did I miss something? Oh yeah, the two fan favorites in San Diego, head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith, won´t return in 2013 – Yippie Aye!

I won´t discuss their story and (lack of) success in their jobs so far; I´ve done that already in a previous article.

Instead I wanna take quick look at the hottest names for the head coach position in San Diego right now.

There has been a lot of talk about Bruce Arians lately, so I´ll start off with his name.

Bruce Arians´ job currently is to call the offensive plays in Indianapolis and he was the interim coach in last games while head coach Chuck Pagano battled leukemia before returning Dec. 24. Before taking over the job as offensive coordinator in Indianapolis, he worked five years for the Steelers as play caller and two years in that position for the Cleveland Browns.

So as opposed to other candidates, he has the advantage that nobody can point out his mistakes as head coach, as he has never been a designated head man of an NFL team. He was in that position for the Temple Owls in 1980´s for six years. Of course there´s no reason to be impressed by his record during that span with the team: 21-45! But as interim head coach for the Colts this season, he won nine out of 12 games. These numbers of course sound pretty good.
So after all, we don´t really know if the 60-year old Arians has what it takes to lead a NFL team to the playoffs (and beyond).

Another much discussed name is Lovie Smith, the former head coach of the Chicago Bears.

What do we know about Smith?

Well, he was the head man for nine years in Chicago, won the NFC North three times, and recorded one Super Bowl appearance with the Bears. He’s a former defensive coordinator, and he runs a 4-3 defense. The Chargers second year defensive coordinator John Pagano, who they seemingly wanna keep, runs a 3-4 defense. So one could say, this doesn´t sound like a good fit.
I think the Chargers are looking for someone that is able to focus on the offense while leaving the defense to John Pagano. We´ll see…

This leads me to the next big name: Jon Gruden.

Gruden, as we all know, already has head coaching experience in the National Football League: from 1998 to 2001 he coached the Oakland Raiders; from 2002 to 2008 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers let Tony Dungy go after his contract expired. He took the team to three consecutive playoff appearances, making it four in the last five years. Tampa then hired Gruden and in only his first season, he led the team to a Super Bowl victory. It has to be noted that his quarterback, running back, best receiver, and best pass rushers all stayed healthy.

This leads many fans to the conclusion that Gruden won the title with a team that Tony Dungy made strong. But from 2003 – 2008 the team struggled under Gruden, making the playoffs only twice.

With the Oakland Raiders, on the other hand, he consistently won games. Another aspect which has to be put onto the plus side of the list is that he likes Philip Rivers and his skills. Some of his interviews over the last years make it evident that he thinks highly of our franchise quarterback.

I think they both would get along very well. And that is one thing that we need here in San Diego: a head coach who Philip Rivers can respect and who´s on the same page as he is. Because we need to build a team around Rivers in order to get him there where he once was: elite status. He already showed he can be one of the best in this league (although he runs like a snail) and I´m convinced he can show that once again. Therefore he needs a good OLine and a head coach with which he connects very well.

Jon Gruden could be such a coach in my opinion. Not to mention that he´s also a great motivator, something I think this team is in need of very badly after six years with the nice and friendly player´s coach Norv Turner. They need someone who´s able to turn the heat on when necessary.

But it also has to be mentioned that Gruden probably would receive the biggest salary out of all the available candidates. That could be the one big reason not to hire him.

Another name which popped up recently is Jim L. Mora.

The UCLA coach already had the pleasure to work for the Chargers from 1985 – 1991 as defensive assistant (quality control, then secondary).

From 2004 – 2006 he coached the Atlanta Falcons and in 2009 he was hired as head coach for the Seattle Seahawks. But after going 5-11 he was fired in January of the following year. Also, his time with the Atlanta Falcons won´t get me too hyped about his name: starting with a record 11-5 in 2004, going 8-8 in 2005, and ending the 2006 season with 7-9 after loosing their final three games, including two at home, and missing the playoffs for a second straight year, he was released at the end that season.

With John Pagano as defensive coordinator and probably Noel Mazzone as offensive coordinator, Mora maybe could make sense as head coach for the San Diego Chargers.

But to be honest, I don´t need Mora as the head man of my San Diego Chargers.

I also planned to pay some attention to the “star” college coach, Chip Kelly, in this article. But as he obviously already made his decision, which includes not being the head coach of the San Diego Chargers in 2013, we can take that name off the hot list I guess.

Some other names worth mentioning to take over the head coaching job in San Diego, but recently not discussed as much as the names above:

Bill Cowher (hasn´t coached since 2006 and also not very likely to return);
Mike Zimmer (defensive coordinator) and Jay Gruden (offensive coordinator) both for the Cincinnati Bengals;
Mike Holmgren (64 years old, hasn´t coached since 2008);
Mike McCoy (offensive coordinator, Denver Broncos)

Maybe that list should include some more names, but I wanna leave it like that.

So if the name of your team´s head coach is Bill Cowher, Mike Holmgren, Jon Gruden or Mike Zimmer, then don´t be surprised if you´re having a lot of fun watching your team´s games.

Hopefully we BoltHeads will be one of those lucky NFL fans.

Thank you for reading and feel free to share your thoughts in comments section below.


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