There has been plenty of talk around this blog about the things that Mike McCoy has done wrong in his first year as a Head Coach. He's been too conservative, he's been too boring with the media, he seems to struggle with the depth chart. To put it plainly, there are a lot of ways in which we feel that the San Diego Chargers replaced Norv Turner with Norv Turner.
There have also been a handful of "Mike McCoy hasn't been so bad" posts, and I'm here to add one more to the mix.
While he has been a little slower to adapt than some of us would like, recent weeks have shown McCoy giving goal line carries to Ryan Mathews and creating a larger role in the offense for Ladarius Green. That shows a level of humility that Norv Turner didn't have, and the Chargers reaped the benefits in their upset victory over the Chiefs in Kansas City.
All things considered, this feels like a Norv Turner team. They came as close as they could come to being out of playoff contention, but the schedule seems to show a strong December on the way for the Bolts. An 8-8 finish with the league's worst defense wouldn't feel very different from what we had before.
So, why am I ready to throw my support behind McCoy after 11 games? Because he fixed Philip Rivers after Turner broke him. If you have watched around the league over the past 5 or 10 years, this much should be evident: A franchise QB can be the difference between a Super Bowl contender and a team that's watching the playoffs from home. If you want a present-day example, look at the Green Bay Packers without Aaron Rodgers.
"Fixing" may be the wrong word for what McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt have done with Rivers. Whereas Norv Turner thought his system was perfect, because it had worked in the past, and that the problem must lie with the players, the new offensive coaching staff built a system that would take advantage of the players. It's the difference between trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and creating a new game that involves square holes with the intent on having somewhere to easily put the square peg.
Ask anybody that watched the Chargers over the last few years if they thought Rivers, Gates and Mathews could be part of one of the league's best offenses in 2013 and they would probably laugh in your face. Tell them that they'd have to do it without either of their planned starting WRs and they would fall over in hysterics. Tell them the 2013 Chargers would be playing a rookie right tackle as their starting left tackle, and they would be genuinely worried for the safety of the team's starting quarterback.
Mike McCoy's game management needs work, and I can't wait for the day when he loosens up a bit with the local media, but what he and his staff have been able to do on the offensive side of the ball is nothing short of miraculous. Pulling off miracles as a rookie Head Coach, in any capacity, deserves praise and gives me hope that Mike McCoy will be able to improve himself (and his team) going forward.