We’ve reached the mid-way point of the 2017 season and everyone is dishing out midseason report cards. Fans and scribes alike are busy grading players, coaches and executives as their teams prepare for the second half of the season and, while mostly tiresome, there is some merit to the evaluations.
With most of my colleagues at Bolts from the Blue issuing mid-season player grades, I thought I would offer my thoughts on the job Anthony Lynn has done through the first half of his inaugural season in Los Angeles. I’ll start by grading him on four key functions of a coach – culture, game management, clock management and personnel management – then finish with an overall grade.
Here is how I grade Anthony Lynn through his first eight games…
After four years of clichés, excuses and zero accountability from Mike McCoy, Anthony Lynn has come in and completely changed the culture in the Chargers locker room. No one is immune from public criticism (see his recent comments about Melvin Gordon and Mike Williams), and everyone is expected to do their jobs. Everyone seems more engaged and, from the outside looking in, they seem to be playing/fighting for each other more so than at any point during McCoy’s tenure.
It would have been easy for some of the veterans to check out on Coach Lynn after a miserable 0-4 start, but they haven’t done that. According to Joey Bosa, who cited a lack of effort under McCoy, guys are working harder than at any time last year and still believe in their coach. The culture change hasn’t yet yielded consistent results, but it will.
As you might expect from a first-year head coach, Lynn has had his ups and downs with game management.
On the bright side, I think he’s shown a propensity for being aggressive on fourth down in recent weeks, even if it meant eschewing a chip-shot field goal to prove a point against the Broncos two weeks ago. It hasn’t always worked out, but it’s encouraging and should yield better results in the second half of the season. It also suggests he’s learning from mistakes he made in similar situations earlier in the season.
On the negative side, he’s still missing some opportunities. His decision to kick a 51-yard field goal during the opening drive in the New England game was regrettable, as was the missed opportunity for a challenge after what was clearly a terrible spot on the preceding 3rd and 17 pass to Antonio Gates. Likewise, he’s wasted a few challenges and missed a couple other fourth down opportunities.
I think we’ve seen some signs of improvement in this regard, but it still needs a fair amount of work/attention.
While I don’t think all of the Chargers time management issues are entirely on Coach Lynn (most of the rest on the shoulders of Ken Whisenhunt and Philip Rivers), he’s the head coach and it’s his job to iron out the communication and play-calling issues that have plagued the offense in the first half.
Things got off to a rough start with inexcusable pre-snap penalties (false starts and delay of games) bogging down the offense at critical times throughout the first seven weeks of the season. They also had issues properly managing timeouts and running efficient 2:00 drives in the second and fourth quarters of games. It was ugly, no doubt about it.
That said, there are signs of improvement. Dating back to the Giants game the Chargers have orchestrated four near flawless scoring drives in the final 4:00 or less of either the second or fourth quarter while also escaping New England with just one offensive pre-snap penalty (a false start), which happened on the first drive of the game.
This is one area in which I think Lynn and his staff have done an outstanding job, and the roster is literally littered with examples.
The best example is Kyle Emanuel, who played horribly in 30 snaps in week one against Denver and promptly had his snaps scaled back over the course of the next six games. Same thing with Darius Philon, who began the year in a minor rotational role and has since played his way into a prominent role as arguably the Chargers best interior lineman to the tune of 17 tackles and 3 sacks through eight games. A similar case can be made with how the coaches slowly worked Dan Feeney into the lineup a series at a time just before Matt Slauson was lost for the season.
It took some time, but I think Anthony Lynn has a better handle on his personnel than Mike McCoy ever did, and I think that grasp of certain players’ strengths and weaknesses is on its way to yielding results – particularly on defense.
Overall, the first half of the season went more or less as I expected for Coach Lynn. On the one hand, he has rapidly changed the culture and demonstrated a firm grasp of how to manage his roster. On the other hand, I think he’s had some growing pains when it comes to game and clock management, but he has also shown signs of improvement in those areas in recent weeks. All in all, I think he’s shown a propensity for learning from his mistakes and flashed signs of being a good NFL head coach under some difficult circumstances.
You’ve seen my first half grades for Anthony Lynn…how would you grade him?
What grade would you give Anthony Lynn after 8 games?
This poll is closed