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BFTB Roundtable: Grading Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy (so far)

After his flop at a recent press conference, Chargers head coach Mike McCoy has drawn the ire of BFTB. We grade his job so far.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Okay gentlemen, following Mike McCoy's disastrous press conference, how would you grade his job so far as Head Coach? First up, our fearless leader:

John Gennaro

I'll give him a B. He's still working with A.J. Smith's players and A.J. Smith's defensive coordinator, and I doubt he had much of an option on either one of them.

Philip Rivers has gone from 31st in the league in QBR in 2012 to 2nd in the league in QBR this year. McCoy accomplished his #1 goal, which was "Figure out if Rivers can be great again", and got the most preferable outcome. I'm sure I said, sometime before the season, that the team could go 2-14 and McCoy would still get a passing grade in Rivers played like the old Rivers. I'll stick with that.

Also, and this is where I lose everyone, I appreciate his demeanor and posture. He is confident and he looks confident at all times. The running-the-stairs bit before games is also kind of cool. Some coaches just look confused and McCoy is never one of them, even when he actually doesn't know what's going on. That deserves some praise after years of hearing people bash Norv because he "looks like a loser".

Now, the marks against McCoy. His game management is terrible. His ability to adjust his gameplan quickly also seems terrible. He's about as conservative as they come and, like most "old school" coaches, he isn't eager to experiment with things like having one of the most dynamic receiving tight end in the league today if the guy in front of him is a veteran with a history of success in the league.

A few people have noted, in the last few days, that McCoy is very similar to his mentor (John Fox) in those ways (hilariously, Fox and McCoy under-used Julius Thomas for the entire 2012 season before an injury forced Thomas into the starting lineup this year). Fox is a guy that gameplans well, but has a poor record when his offense or defense isn't dominant enough to win games by themselves. Basically, he can't coach his team to victory (and he isn't going to help them), but he won't stand in their way most of the time. I suspect we'll get much of the same with McCoy, which is both good and bad. Not taking advantage of opportunities to put up more points will always frustrate the fanbase, as will being conservative and slow to adapt, but I suppose it's a step in the right direction from Norv. And hey, maybe he'll learn. Maybe the Chargers will hire a Common Sense Manager and McCoy will listen to him. We're 9 games into his tenure as a head coach. There's a lot of road left to travel with this one.

That was long and thorough. But entirely true. So far it's the best explanation. But it's also the first... let's hear from our ageless wonder next

Robert Falkenberg

In my semester grades, I gave the overall Coaching a C-. For the purposes of THIS grade in this post, I am assigning the improvement on the offense to Whisenhunt, Reich, and Coach D', and putting the tragi-comedy of the 2013 defense all on Pagano. This will leave the game preparation, game management, and "coaches decisions" on McCoy. I have no choice but to assign a Coach McCoy a D for his body of work so far this season.

An old adage in the NFL is "If something is working, keep doing it until they other team stops it." Mathews has been working all season, and just like Dean Smith being the only guy to hold Michael Jordan under 20 points, McCoy seems to be the only guy that can hold RM 24 to under a hundred yards. It is baffling to me how a guy averaging over 5 yards a carry in 7 rushing attempts, disappears for the rest of the game.

Green has looked good when he has been used, which is not often enough. Many coaches in the league would look at what Green brings to the table and what he has been able to do in so few chances and be working in some packages to use him for the mismatches so craved by offensive coaches in this league. I was hoping after the Washington game to see perhaps some self-awareness and self-criticism that led to a different thought process. Other than the tantalizing fake punt, the Denver game showed more of the same timid caching style. And ineptitude. The defensive failure to stop Denver masked the misuse of time-outs at the end of the last game. At some point, this head coach needs to put his foot down and start insisting on a few things from his coordinators. And maybe get some testosterone supplements going.

Well that was rough. And deservedly so. Does he deserve a D for it though? Can't say. The team is hovering around .500 so you can't be happy but you can't be ready to throw in the towel just yet, I think. But you are right, Robert. McCoy does need a kick in the rear. Now a word from the Consonant King himself:

Andrew Tschiltsch

At this point in the season I'd grade McCoy at a C+. It's tricky, because this team has been a lot more competitive than I anticipated. The improvement in the offense has been surprising, while the improvement across the offensive line is astounding considering the game of musical chairs going on there, so the hires of Whisenhunt and Joe D have proven to be great so far. However, as it has been mentioned many times, coaching has directly cost the Chargers a couple games this season. The ultimate responsibility for that lies with McCoy.

I'm slightly disappointed with the amount of "coach speak" we get from McCoy. Lines like "we do what we do and we are not going to change" might work if you have a couple Super Bowl rings with an organization, but aren't you still figuring out what you do? Additionally, I think it's important for a coach to be able to honestly look at his team and attempt to use strengths to hide weaknesses. There have been multiple games where McCoy has seemingly believed more in his defense than his offense, and there's something scary about that.

I think I agree with this one the most so far. McCoy's positives and negatives so far outweigh Norv. We know what Richard thinks thanks to yesterday's post.

Richard Wade

I'm going to say D+. Here's why.

That was a great post. And an even better comment pool. If you haven't already checked it out, shame on you! It's literary Gold here on BFTB. Jason Peters follows up with these thoughts:

Jason Peters

I'm going to break this down into various parts.
Game Planning: B. Complain all you want during about in-game strategies or adjustments, but the Chargers have had great offensive preparation for their games. This is clearly evidenced by the resurgence of Philip Rivers and the offense becoming a powerhouse again. On the other side of the ball, though, we aren't sure the defense has a plan at all other than to let the opponent score so the offense can get back on the field again.

Player management: D. Ronnie Brown and John Phillips still get into the game for reasons that are entirely beyond me.

Time Out Management: C. McCoy clearly doesn't know some basic strategies like calling time outs before the 2 minute warning rather than after.

Challenge Management: C. Not a lot to go on here so far. Only memorable challenge is when McCoy challenged an unchallengable play and stepped on the flag to hide it after Rivers yelled at him.

4th Down Decisions: D. The few times he's gone for it keeps this from being an F, but his inconsistency is maddening.

2-Point Conversion Decisions: F. He clearly has no idea when to go for 2 and when not to. Just last game, the Chargers scored a touchdown to make the score 28-12. If you go for 2 and make it, you are down 2 touchdowns with 2 extra points. If you miss the conversion, you still can make up the ground by converting 2 point conversions if you score 2 more touchdowns. If you wait until the last touchdown to go for 2, then you are betting everything on one play.

Overall grade: Let's call it C-. Head coaches make good strategic decisions because they've already thought out these strategies ahead of time. Despite what he said in the press conference, I don't think Mike McCoy has really thought through what strategies to employ in various situations. He just goes from his gut, and his gut is often wrong in game. Also, it is his job to be the boss to the coordinators if they are doing something stupid. Both coordinators misuse players (playing Brown and Phillips on offense, using Weddle as a MLB), and McCoy hasn't cracked down on this at all. The one good thing I can say is the offensive game planning has been fantastic, but I'm not sure how much of that should actually be credited to Whisenhunt and Rivers being allowed off the leash.

It's a good thing I don't place a word limit on you guys... However, I like how thorough you were. Once you look at every aspect of his coaching, it's easier to justify your overall grade, so bonus points to you! I like how we all agree on certain things. It shows we're a well knit group. Speaking of knitting, Sir Posey has woven up a nice argument as well...

Kyle Posey

I give McCoy a C+. He's a smart guy. He knows what this team is. He brought over an offensive scheme that not only brings the best out of his quarterback, but hides his incompetent defensive coordinators play calling issues, and overall lack of talent on defense. The half court ball control offense is brilliant. Even thought Philip Rivers still stares down receivers when he's pressured, the effort that's gone into fixing Rivers has been great.

That's the good. There's a lot of bad. A LOT. Just read the link that Richard posted. That will sum it all up. As he explained, it's not so much the result, just the process to get to the result. Even as a rookie head coach, you shouldn't make the same mistakes twice in a season, specifically only having 7 OL active. Especially after seemingly every game we've seen a lineman go down. That and his inability to realize that his offense his the strength of team has hurt the Chargers this year. Knowing that this defense is statistically the worst in the league, you have to maximize each offensive possession, be aggressive. He hasn't.

Lastly as a head coach, I'd like him to step in a little more on both sides of the ball. It seems like he's been leaning on the wisdom of Ken Whisenhunt a little too much. While Whiz has brought in some incredible play designs, as we all know, the play calling hasn't been great. Last week, 3rd & 1, you come out in shotgun and throw a deep corner route to Gates for an incomplete pass. McCoy needs to step in, recognize that this team can run the ball, and do it.

It seems as though we can't completely fail Mike McCoy, because of all the potential on the team, I guess. That, and the hope that things will get better. The consensus seems to be the same. As a rookie head coach, we're seeing a lot of rookie mistakes. We'd all like to see him play smarter on third and fourth down. We'd all like to see him use his offensive weapons more. We want to see the team take a bigger step away from the conservatism and predictable lolly-gagging we saw under Norv.

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