The San Diego Chargers and new general manager Tom Telesco played the waiting game, and on Tuesday they won that game when they hired Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy as their new head coach. The hiring of McCoy is a win on several fronts, which is just what the Chargers needed after not winning nearly as much as they should have over the past few seasons.
For starters, McCoy is not Norv Turner. With all due respect to Turner and the career he’s had, he should have been let go by the Chargers a year ago (if not two years ago). Just being done with Turner should give a shot of life to the franchise and fan base, and the fact that McCoy is the one replacing him is a just a bonus. McCoy is now the youngest head coach in the NFL, which should be a nice change of pace from the aging Turner, too.
Turner’s exit aside, McCoy is a great hire even on a standalone basis. More than a handful of teams have been waiting for the Broncos’ season to come to end just so they could try to engage in serious talks with McCoy. In a league dominated by offense, McCoy is one of the brightest offensive minds around, making him a hot commodity and one of the most sought after coaches in the NFL this year. Convincing McCoy to choose San Diego over all of the other coaching vacancies that remain was arguably the biggest win the Chargers have had in a long time.
One of the things McCoy is best known for is orchestrating his offense around the personnel that he has and being able to make adjustments to what he’s working with. After all, McCoy is the offensive coordinator that helped Kyle Orton have two of his best seasons in 2009 and 2010, then molded his offense to fit the unique abilities of Tim Tebow in 2011, only to change the offense completely this past season to accommodate Peyton Manning. In San Diego, McCoy will have a veteran quarterback to work with in Philip Rivers, as well as a pair of wide receivers Rivers is comfortable throwing to in Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander. The Chargers don’t have much else on offense, but McCoy has the kind of keen offensive mind that can make the best out of what he’s got.
Finally, the hire of McCoy is a win for the Chargers because they not only upgraded their coaching staff, but they also damaged the coaching staff of a division rival in the process. By hiring McCoy, they’ve created a vacancy on Denver’s coaching staff, giving the Broncos the difficult task of finding a new offensive coordinator that can adequately fill their old one’s very large shoes. Furthermore, with the Chargers and Broncos playing two games against one another annually, San Diego will have a slight edge in that regard when the two teams meet, as McCoy is familiar with what the Broncos do on both sides of the ball. The same may not be true for the Broncos’ familiarity with McCoy because of McCoy’s ability to adapt his schemes to fit the talent and personnel he is working with. After the way the Broncos ran away with the AFC West division this season, the Chargers can use any advantage they can get.
Charger fans were no doubt growing restless with every passing day that the team didn’t hire a new head coach, but in the end, the long wait was worth it. The Chargers nabbed one of the most sought after and promising young coordinators in the NFL, poached him away from the rival Broncos coaching staff, and beat out a handful of other teams that were also interested in making him their head coach.
When it is all said and done, the Chargers will likely look back on the past 12 months and realize their biggest win of the year actually came in the offseason.