Something struck me this morning when I was listening to Hank Bauer being interviewed by Dan Sileo this morning.
Actually, it was a point that the former Chargers RB and coach made himself, but I want to expand on it a little bit. That point was experience, or lack thereof, in the San Diego Chargers front office and coaching staff.
Think about it for a second. Below is a list of all of the important positions within a team, the guys that decide how the roster is put together and how it is utilized on the field......
- First-time Head Coach (Mike McCoy)
- First-time Offensive Coordinator (Frank Reich)
- First-time Defensive Coordinator (John Pagano)
- First-time General Manager (Tom Telesco)
- First-time President of Football Operations (John Spanos)
I get what the Chargers are trying to do. Hell, I was an advocate for trying to bring in a young GM or Head Coach that the team could keep for 10+ years, following the mold put together by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
However, I think they've run off the rails a bit with that philosophy. At some point, someone needs to be introduced to the big, important conversations within the team offices that has been in those big, important conversations within some other team's offices before. Someone who knows what works based on the fact that it did work once before, not someone who just believes that they're right because of arrogance.
Frank Reich still makes a ton of mistakes as a play-caller, and yet Mike McCoy has never taken those play-calling responsibilities away from him (despite the fact that McCoy was hired because of his play-calling abilities, and that he'll probably be an Offensive Coordinator again in the NFL someday). Both of those egregious mistakes are the result of a lack of experience.
Tom Telesco being extended after trading up and drafting a running back in the first round is the direct result of John Spanos not having the experience to say or do otherwise.
Nobody is answering to anybody. Nobody is afraid. From John Spanos down, nobody's voice holds any authority because nobody has a resume to stand behind.
If you are one of those that wonder why this team seemed more functional, and won more games, with Ken Whisenhunt as a part of the coaching staff....this is your reason. Whisenhunt had been to multiple Super Bowls. He had success at multiple levels of the coaching tree. he had a resume to stand behind, which gave him authority. The moment he got replaced with another unproven guy, the San Diego Chargers lost the ability to appropriately function the way an NFL team needs to.
The 2007 Pittsburgh Steelers hired Mike Tomlin to be the Head Coach but kept on Dick LeBeau as the team's Defensive Coordinator. There was, at least, someone with experience to guide the ship until Tomlin was ready to take the reigns himself. The Chargers followed a similar plan but thought they were good enough to divert from it one year later when Whisenhunt was hired by the Titans.
What the Chargers need isn't a new trainer, and it's not a new coaching staff. What the Chargers need is a "heavyweight". They need someone, like Ron Wolf and Ken Whisenhunt were in 2013, and like John Butler was in 2001, to teach the kids how it's done. I'm convinced that the team will continue its downward spiral until that guy is hired.