It was a shocker for most Chargers fans. Anthony Lynn was not at the top of their list for head coaching candidates. Guys like Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels were what most people clamored for. Yet, the Chargers decided to hire someone under the radar.
I feel that Anthony Lynn was a good hire and can change the atmosphere of the Los Angeles Chargers franchise.
Lynn has a no nonsense approach that has been absent for over a decade in the Chargers locker room. There are some concerns about his experience and the staff that he may have to retain. Even with those legitimate points, Lynn is the right man to lead this team into it’s new home of Los Angeles.
One of the biggest criticisms of Lynn is his lack of experience. Since his coaching career began in 2000, he has largely been a running backs coach. Only last season did he become the offensive coordinator for the Bills and then take over as interim head coach in Week 17.
Although he may not have the experience of some other qualified candidates, he has been very successful in every place he has been.
Let’s start at the beginning.
In the 2003 season, Lynn was hired as the Jacksonville Jaguars running backs coach. There he was able to work with Fred Taylor for two successful seasons. Taylor ran for 2796 in two seasons and the Jaguars finished top ten in rushing his first season there.
Next up, Lynn moved on to Dallas with Bill Parcells, Todd Haley, and Todd Bowles. In his two years with the Cowboys, the team finished 13th in rushing both seasons he was there and he helped Julius Jones and Marion Barber become a dangerous two headed monster.
(Here’s a neat video of the bond Haley and Lynn share. This also makes me root for Lynn to succeed just a little more.)
Following a two year stint in Dallas, he moved on to the Cleveland Browns. There his running back was an aging Jamal Lewis. Although he was still able to rush for 1000 yards in both seasons under Lynn’s tutelage, the Browns were no where near the top in the NFL in total rushing. This may have been a learning experience for Lynn because he was tremendous in his next stop.
The last and arguably Lynn’s most successful coaching stint was with the New York Jets. Lynn spent 5 seasons with the Jets from 2009-2014. In those years, the Jets were known for their “ground and pound” style as coined by Rex Ryan.
With the Jets, Lynn was in charge of some very talented runners. Including Thomas Jones and Chris Ivory. Although the two aforementioned players were veterans, Lynn went a long way in developing younger backs like Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell.
Lynn’s most recent stop in Buffalo was also a huge success in large part because of LeSean McCoy who had another great season. McCoy is a unique runner that Lynn was able to showcase in his offense last season. Aside from McCoy Mike Gillislee and Karlos Williams (pre-suspension) were two backs that Lynn developed. Williams hit a wall for off-field reasons, but Gillislee was phenomenal when he was filling in for McCoy when he was hurt.
All three of those backs are all uniquely different runners as well. McCoy can make guys miss while Gillislee is more of a downhill runner. Lynn’s ability to create a game plan to cater the strengths of his players was apparent last season.
With McCoy and Gillislee The Bills had by far the best running game in the league. Buffalo had 2,630 rushing yards, 29 rushing touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry. Remember, Tyrod Taylor is this team’s quarterback. Most defenses had their eyes on stopping the run when Buffalo came to town. That didn’t matter as Buffalo averaged a whopping 164 yards per game on the ground.
Clearly, Lynn has vast experience with running backs and he knows how to utilize their talents. Expect for Melvin Gordon to be featured in this offense frequently.
The Chargers don’t have prime Philip Rivers anymore. It is time to rely on the running game more and with a talented back like Gordon, Lynn can create something very special. The unique rushing concepts Lynn has used in the past could work very well in Los Angeles.
Now, Lynn doesn’t seem to fit the mold of an offensive guru. He isn’t Kyle Shanahan or the Los Angeles Rams new head coach Sean McVay. Lynn seems to be more of a motivator than a strategist. Which should be a welcomed sight in
San Diego Los Angeles. The past two coaches (Norv and McCoy) were advertised as offensive masterminds. Although the offenses were fairly effective under the two, it didn’t lead to wins.
Lynn, on the other hand, has made his players buy in everywhere he has gone. He is a hard-nosed coach that will get in the face of his players and hold them accountable. Which is the opposite attitude that Mike McCoy had. Is there a time McCoy yelled at his players? (There was that one time he yelled at punter Drew Kaser last season)
One thing to always look out for when hiring a new head coach is what former players and even local media members had to say about him.
In a post I wrote about the original interview about Lynn, I talked about how some of the Bills best offensive players loved him. LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, and Jerome Felton were all more than pleased with the job he did as the offensive coordinator.
Remember, last season the Bills‘ locker room basically overthrew Greg Roman so Lynn could get the job. That should speak volumes about how a locker room will respond to Lynn.
Adam Schein of CBS Sports Network loved the hire. Schein was a part of SportsNet New York, a local New York television station that was the home of the Jets. Schein was around that team for frequently and was excited for what he can bring to the Chargers.
Another small but important trait was how Lynn handled the media. He was great in his press conferences this year being both informative and honest. The way he spoke about wanting to win and holding his players accountable was refreshing. Lynn had personality too, something that fans haven’t seen in a long time.
Lynn may not be the flashy candidate, he may not have the pedigree, but he has the attitude and style to bring wins to the Chargers. With his no-nonsense attitude and ability to develop a top rushing attack, there is plenty of hope that Anthony Lynn can right the ship.