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What did Anthony Lynn have to say at the NFL Combine?

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NFL Combine - Day 1 Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Head coach Anthony Lynn took to the podium after general manager Tom Telesco and delivered a handful of interesting nuggets to the media. His questions ranged from Tom Brady, the Chargers’ pending free agents, and a number of players still currently on the team, including Mike Pouncey and Austin Ekeler.

To make this easy, I’m just going to go topic-by-topic and fill you guys in on the important stuff and share of my thoughts on things, as well.

On Austin Ekeler/Justin Jackson:

Lynn stated that when the Chargers were forced to start Ekeler at running back - usually due to an injury to Melvin Gordon - he noticed he couldn’t quite get Ekeler going as a receiver than when he has another guy to work off of in the backfield. He followed that up with “...we need a guy with him.”

To me, this obviously sounds like they want to continue using Ekeler in the same manner that they did in 2019, when he was moved all over formations while Gordon stayed in the backfield. I think this is an easy strategy to continue for the Bolts as Justin Jackson is more than capable of shouldering the load on the ground. Lynn also noted that he thinks Jackson has the best instincts out of all the running backs. That bodes well for the former seventh-round pick and his chances of an increased workload in 2020. Lynn did mention “he just has to stay healthy”.

Yeah, him and the rest of the team.

On the media saying Lynn wants a mobile QB:

Soon after Lynn got the Chargers job, he mentioned that if you don’t have a quarterback with some mobility than you’re already behind when it comes to what’s working now in the NFL. It was very memorable because he was inheriting one of the least athletic quarterbacks in the league and it gave us a teaser into what Lynn prefers under center. In today’s presser, he was asked about that comment again.

Now Lynn is obviously a bit more open at this point, especially after the recent sputter to a 5-11 season. Of course he said he wants a winner first. That’s what’s important right now in the moment. But I wouldn't let it fool you. Lynn still prefers his quarterbacks with some wiggle.

On Mike Pouncey’s health/return:

Lynn said he recently spoke with Pouncey and that the center was “fired-up” to get back on the field with his team. He isn’t medically cleared yet but this is a good sign that the team will likely have the veteran back in 2020, just in time for a new quarterback.

On Melvin Gordon returning to the team:

“I love Melvin Gordon” is what Lynn immediately replied with. He followed it with, “but he’s a free agent. I got a lot of guys who are free agents. I would love to keep all my guys but it’s just not like that.”

When asked about the holdout, he said him and Gordon both learned a lot and that he doesn’t believe the running back will ever do anything like that again in the future. He said Gordon “is a guy who needs to be around his teammates”.

On James Campen as the new offensive line coach:

Lynn said James did “a heck of job” during his 11 years in Green Bay and in his most recent stint with the Cleveland Browns. When asked if the new coach means a new scheme, he was fairly quick to say that they must “get a final roster” before he can decide the type of scheme they will be running.

I like this answer because this is how it should be. You do not want to fit square pegs into round holes. I also really like the idea of running a new scheme, especially a new run game. The Chargers currently utilize a power run scheme that focus on pulling linemen and opening specific gaps for runners. I think that doesn’t fit the Chargers well. You need pure road-graders to move defensive line from point A to point B and I don’t think the Chargers have that. They have a bunch of athletic guys who could benefit from a switch to a more zone-based scheme.

On the depth at linebacker:

“I’d like some more depth at the linebacker spot”. This was the only position he brought up specifically when asked about which positions he would like to upgrade this offseason. One of the more eye-opening things Lynn said was that he believes Denzel Perryman is one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL when he’s healthy. That’s quite the statement for a guy who hasn’t done much, even when he’s healthy.

Lynn was speedy to sing the praises of rookie Drue Tranquill who he said did a phenomenal job at middle linebacker and was a leader as a rookie, also noting that Tranquill could be a captain for the Chargers in the future. He also stated that Tranquill can play both middle and weakside linebacker in this defense.

When asked about Kyzir White and where Lynn prefers to play him, he said that he could play middle linebacker but due to his knee injury they prefer to play him at the OTTO, or strongside linebacker position. When asked why, he said that the OTTO doesn’t get as many snaps due to the frequency that they play sub-packages and they want to preserve his knee. He ended his response by saying “the plan the entire time was to play him at the OTTO”. This means they viewed White as the replacement at Kyle Emanuel’s former position. This was intriguing because White did a heck of a job at weakside linebacker as a rookie before that knee injury.

On Jerry Tillery and Nasir Adderley’s rookie year:

Lynn said that he believes Tillery has a lot of “potential for growth” and noted that the former first-round pick started to come on late in the year, specifically the final month of the season.

Adderley essentially got a redshirt year as a rookie and is currently running around just fine. Lynn said he has benefited from being around a great group of veterans that have been able to mentor him while he deals with a lingering hamstring injury.