Earlier today, the San Diego Chargers fired not-very-well-liked Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky after one year on the job. Many joked that the Bolts had "fixed the problem" and would now be Super Bowl favorites. Then, as if the crowd of people that enjoy firings ten times more than they do actual victories weren't pumped up enough, Kevin Acee dropped this tweet.
This likely is not last axe to fall on coaching staff.— S.D. U-T Chargers (@sdutChargers) January 5, 2012
Well, then. I guess everybody is at risk to lose their job then....right?
Early favorite (in the clubhouse) for new Chargers DC is LB coach John Pagano.— S.D. U-T Chargers (@sdutChargers) January 5, 2012
Okay, so John Pagano (LB Coach) is safe. Steve Wilks (DB Coach) and Don Johnson (DL Coach) are essentially "free agents", and I think I mentioned here previously that it woudln't be all too surprising if they followed Ron Rivera to Carolina (after following him to San Diego from Chicago). Either way, you can't really be "fired" if you're not under contract (see: Crosby, Steve).
So, with more axes to fall, I started wondering: Which heads are on the chopping block?
Seems safe, for now, wouldn't you think?
No idea if he could be canned or not. His entire job is a bit of a mystery, and he's hidden away behind closed doors. If his gameplans this season weren't great, Norv could fire him. Norv also seems to have a bit of a protege on the staff that could replace Shelmon, but we'll get to him in a second.
Special Teams Coach
He's been here for one season and the Special Teams improved quite a bit in that year. I can't see any way that the team could justify firing Bisaccia. In fact, I think he could be the next Asst. Head Coach.
If Pagano is getting patted on the back while Manusky's being shown the door, I feel like assistant coaches are somewhat impervious to blame in this situation. I think he's safe.
Long revered as one of the best coaches in the game, Hal Hunter gets all of the credit for guys like Jared Gaither and Nick Hardwick and Louis Vasquez. However, the line has been inconsistent since the days of Martyball. Most will blame that on injury, but Manusky was just fired after a year where he was missing his best defensive lineman, his starting SS and 1/2 of what was supposed to be the starting tandem opposite Shaun Phillips (not to mention Phillips himself battled injuries all season). If Hunter were cut and replaced, I wouldn't be shocked.
Don seems like the type that gets the most out of his players, but the talent along the defensive line isn't exactly stellar. Corey Liuget's somewhat disappointing rookie season doesn't reflect well upon him, but good years by Cam Thomas and Vaughn Martin do. This could go either way, but I think Don wants to go to the Panthers anyway.
They won't fire Charlie unless the receivers are simply awful, which they definitely were not in 2011. He's safe.
This is Norv's protege that I mentioned earlier. He's been with Norv in San Francisco, Oakland and now San Diego. If Norv is a Head Coach long enough, Michael will be his OC one day. It might be to soon for that now, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Certainly not losing his job.
As mentioned earlier, he's the favorite to be the Chargers' next Defensive Coordinator. Many think part of the reason Manusky was fired was to keep Pagano on the Chargers staff, following an offer from UCLA to make Pagano their Defensive Coordinator. Definitely safe.
After a poor year from Philip Rivers, where he claimed that he was "just going through one of those things" and wasn't injured, you have to think that Ramsdell is not a sure thing to keep his job. He is well-respected around the league for what he did with the Rams (Trent Green, Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger), but he might need Rivers to speak up in his defense. Not safe.
How can a team have two offensive line coaches? I'm going to assume Sullivan is an assistant coach that doesn't like being called an assistant. No idea what that means for his job security.
Asst. Head Coach/Secondary
Very well respected around the league and in San Diego. Was mentioned by some as the logical successor to Manusky as DC. If he gets an offer to be a Defensive Coordinator job somewhere, and I think he will, he'll take it. If not, he could go work with Rivera in Carolina. There's very little keeping him with the Chargers, especially with Quentin Jammer coming to the downslide of his career and Antoine Cason being as inconsistent as any starting CB in the league. He'll get a lot of credit for turning Eric Weddle into a Pro Bowl Safety and making something out of Steve Gregory. Won't get fired, but probably won't come back.
I don't know who this is. Let's call him safe.
Should Wilson be getting praise for a good year from Ryan Mathews, or criticism for not fixing the fumbling issues of both Mathews and Mike Tolbert? When your previous student is LaDainian Tomlinson, it's hard to figure whether Wilson can do anything to fix a fumbling issue. I think he may stick around just because the team wouldn't want to set Mathews back with a new coach, but another guy that wouldn't surprise me if he was fired.
Strength and Conditioning
I like Jeff. Lots of people do. People in the business talk about him like he's one of the best. Yet, in terms of coaching, the blame falls on his shoulders for players getting injured (especially early in the season). Also, lots of people like to point out that when the Chargers win it is almost always through gameplanning and almost never because they are the faster and/or stronger team. I think he's the likeliest candidate to be fired.
Asst. Strength and Conditioning
Strength and conditioning guys are usually more tied to their assistants than other coaches. If they fire Hurd and bring in someone else, he'll likely have his own assistant. So....Vernon might not be safe.
Guys I listed as not being safe:
- Clarence Shelmon
- Hal Hunter
- Mike Sullivan?
- John Ramsdell
- Ollie WIlson
- Jeff Hurd
- Cernon Stephens
Other guys that I don't expect back:
- Don Johnson
- Steven Wilks