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Three options for the Chargers’ next defensive coordinator

All of these position coaches deserve a look.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

With the Raiders hiring away Gus Bradley to be their new defensive coordinator, the Chargers look to be headed towards a complete overhaul of the coaching staff.

The Bolts, despite having a number of significant injuries on that side of the ball, still finished as a top-10 defense in the NFL.

While they may lose a player or two during this upcoming offseason, there will still be a ton of youth and potential that any coach would love to get his hands on. With that in mind, here are three position coaches from around the NFL that I believe could be great fits for the Chargers moving forward into 2021.

Saints DB coach Aaron Glenn

Including 2020, Glenn has 24 years of coaching and front office experience and has more than enough under his belt to earn a defensive coordinator position in the NFL. In his fourth year as the defensive backs coach for the Saints, Glenn had five players record multiple interceptions and four players record double-digit pass breakups. Comparatively, the Chargers only had one player with either three-plus picks and/or 10+ pass breakups and that was cornerback Michael Davis.

Glenn has been crucial in the development of both cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Marcus Williams. As a rookie, Lattimore recorded a career-high five picks and has just one year in four that he’s finished without double-digit takeaways. The same goes for Williams. The former second round pick had four interceptions as a rookie and has followed that up with two, four, and three picks in the past three seasons, respectively.

Without Derwin James, the secondary is just not up to par. This unit had too much talent in 2020 to fall flat the way they did and I’d expect Glenn to be a guy to turn that around if given the chance.

Steelers DL coach Karl Dunbar

For the first half of the 2020 season, the Steelers defense was playing like an all-time unit. You couldn’t even begin to try and run the ball against them and trying to sit comfortably in the pocket was never an option, either. Their recent domination is thanks in large part to Dunbar who just completed his third year in charge of the defensive line.

This season, if it wasn’t for Bud Dupree missing the final five games of the season, the Steelers could have potentially boasted three different players with double-digit sacks. In his 11 games, Dupree had eight sacks while T.J. Watt led the NFL with 15 and Stephon Tuitt chipped in 11 more.

Prior to re-entering the NFL in 2018, Dunbar spent a pair of seasons coaching the defensive line at the University of Alabama. During his tenure in Tuscaloosa, he developed first-rounders Da’Ron Paryne and Jonathan Allen, as well as day two picks Da’Shawn Hand (fourth round) and Dalvin Tomlinson (second round).

All Dunbar knows is how to create intimidating, havoc-wreaking defensive fronts that cause disruption at elite rates. Seeing how underwhelming the pass rush was for the Chargers this past season, I’d welcome Dunbar with open arms.

Rams DL coach Eric Henderson

Now this last one is of the younger variety compared to Glenn and Dunbar, but he’s a former Chargers assistant so there’s already a familiarity with some of the players on the team. Henderson made his NFL coaching debut as the team’s defensive line coach back in 2017 when he helped the Chargers finish fifth in the NFL with 43 sacks, including a career-high 12.5 sacks for Joey Bosa.

After two years with the Bolts, Henderson was hired by the other Los Angeles team for the same position. In 2019, the Rams finished fourth in the league with 50 sacks. In 2020, the Rams increased their total 53 with both Aaron Donald (13.5) and Leonard Floyd (10.5) recording double-digits takedowns. In all, the Rams had four players finish with at least five sacks in 2020 while the Chargers had just one (Bosa).

What Henderson was able to do with Floyd, specifically, is quite notable. The former first round pick in 2016 had seven sacks his rookie season in Chicago but couldn’t ever get back to that number over his final three seasons. In just one season under Henderson, Floyd smashed his former high mark and looks everything like the player the Bears hoped he would be in the Windy City.

Henderson might be a few years away from truly being worthy of a coordinator position, but I personally wouldn’t mind the team kicking the tires on a young coach who already has experience with the team’s best players on the defensive side of the ball.