The Chargers are searching for their 17th head coach in franchise history. They have already begun interviewing numerous candidates. Most of the interviews have been offensive coordinators with a sprinkle of some defensive-minded contenders.
So, with a week of interviews under their belt, what are they looking for in a head coach?
"We'll cast a pretty wide net, you know, with the head coaching search on, keep an open mind," said general manager Tom Telesco. "We'll find the best coach for the Chargers for 2021 and beyond."
This will be Telesco's third head coaching selection. The two head coaches hired by him were former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. Both coaches started with a playoff win and two winning seasons. In the last two seasons of their tenure, it unraveled.
The Chargers job is one of the most intriguing out there because they have a lot of great pieces on both sides of the football, but they have one of the most crucial aspects of having a good team. They have a quarterback in Justin Herbert.
Because of Herbert and all of the talent on offense, that means they want an offensive-minded coach, right?
"If you do your research and your homework, you'll see in the last 15 years, a dozen or more defensive coaches or special teams backgrounds that developed young quarterbacks," he said. "Just because we have a young franchise quarterback doesn't mean you have to have an offensive-based coach. You just don't. Which is why we're casting a pretty wide net."
Telesco is right numerous coaches have been able to do it. New England Patriots head coach and former defensive coordinator Bill Belichick was able to win six Lombardi's with quarterback Tom Brady. Baltimore Ravens head coach and former special teams coach John Harbaugh was able to help develop Joe Flacco, and they even won a Super Bowl together. Harbaugh is now doing the same with Lamar Jackson helping him grow these last three seasons.
The Chargers brass has interviewed/will interview three defensive coordinators in 49ers Robert Saleh, Rams Brandon Staley, and Colts Matt Eberflus.
Saleh had numerous injuries in 2020 but still had a top 10 defense, while Staley's defense just neutralized Russell Wilson on Saturday, and Eberflus's defense was near the top of every category during the season.
They would run a defense that features defensive end Joey Bosa, safety Derwin James, and linebacker Kenneth Murray just to name a few players.
What will they need to do to get the job?
"Whoever the head coach is, no matter what his background is, you have to have a system together that can really work for Justin (Herbert)," said Telesco.
If either of the trio is hired, the Bolts could do a couple of things to ensure Herbert's success. The team could retain offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and quarterback's coach Pep Hamilton. If the team is nervous about potentially losing Hamilton, they could promote him to the OC and fire Steichen.
If history is any indication, the Chargers brass will most likely hire an offensive mind to be their next head coach. Since the late Alex Spanos bought the Chargers in 1984, they have hired ten head coaches since then, and they have all but one been offensive-minded coaches.
Marty Schottenheimer was the only defensive minded coach hired and he had a franchise best 14-2 record. He even built the Bolts defense in to a power house around that time with players like Shawne Merriman, Donnie Edwards, Jamal Williams, and many others.
In fact, the Chargers have had 16 head coaches in their history, and 14 of them have been offensive-minded. Aside from Schottenheimer, their only other defensive head coach was Harland Svare from 1971-1973 and his record was 7-17-2.
Telesco said that they are looking for someone to be the head coach of the Chargers, not the offense or defense, but the team as a whole.
Owner Dean Spanos used the word "innovative" when talking about some of the things they have done the last few years and "we need to carry that over," so that potential could be an offensive-minded coach like Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll or Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
Both are still alive in the playoffs and have full control of high-powered offenses. Are they the best fit for the Chargers? They could be the right fit for Herbert and the offense, but what could they bring to the defense?
Telesco said they will do their homework and select the best candidate to lead their team.
History is not on the side of Saleh, Eberflus, or Staley but could either of them pursued the Bolts to change their minds?
Saleh has the resume to back it up while Staley is viewed as the Sean McVay of defensive minds, and Eberflus is coming off another strong defensive season.
It will be interesting to see if the Chargers brass will continue their history trend when it comes to hiring their next coach or if they go off script and surprise everyone.