Chargers Hire Coach: Is Mike McCoy the answer in San Diego?

It’s official: the San Diego Chargers hired coach Mike McCoy to take over for the departed Norv Turner. It’s a big shakeup for a team that has been a perennial disappointment for the better part of the last decade, but if the Chargers hire a coach and bring in a new attitude, will it lead to better results?

For a team that was a punchline for much of the 1980s and 1990s, the Chargers seemed to be the trendy preseason Super Bowl pick for every year since drafting Philip Rivers in 2004. In fact, from 1982 through drafting Rivers, the Chargers made the playoffs exactly three times, and won more than 10 games only twice. The team bottomed out in 2000, going 1-15, but it took another season before the Chargers hired coach Marty Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer took the team to contention, going from 4-12 to 12-4 in 2004, and a 14-2 record in 2006. But ’06 ended prematurely, as the Chargers lost to the New England Patriots in their playoff opener. Schottenheimer left the team after several disputes after that season, and many were surprised to see the Chargers hire coach Norv Turner.

Turner had a world of talent on both sides of the ball, including LaDainian Tomlinson, Shawne Merriman and Antonio Gates. In his first season the Chargers came within a game of the Super Bowl, but lost again to the Patriots. Two more playoff seasons came up empty, and now three straight years of mediocrity have all but closed the Chargers title window.

With the resurgent Broncos in the same division, and with the Chiefs and Raiders bottoming out and most likely beginning to reload through the draft, the Chargers are in a weird position. The Chargers hire coach McCoy from those same Broncos, where he served as offensive coordinator. But going from Peyton Manning to a severely regressing Phil Rivers may cramp McCoy’s style. It’s entirely possible that the Chargers hire coach McCoy based more on Manning’s prowess in Denver versus McCoy’s ability as a coach. But McCoy said at his press conference that change will be good for the organization, and it’s hard to argue with that.