The San Diego Chargers unsurprisingly moved on from head coach Mike McCoy after Sunday’s loss, ending his four-year tenure with the team. He’ll be a sought-after offensive coordinator in the coming weeks, but it was clear he wasn’t a fit for the Chargers after two straight losing seasons. Now they’ll have to begin their head coaching search right away with a potential move to Los Angeles looming.
These five candidates should garner serious consideration from the Chargers and are likely to top their list of potential replacements for McCoy.
Mike Smith, Buccaneers defensive coordinator
The biggest problem spot for the Chargers in recent years has been the defense. San Diego has gone the offensive route with their recent head coaching hires, so it may be time for them to look on the other side of a ball.
Smith would be an ideal fit. He had a great run in Atlanta after coaching the Ravens’ defensive linemen during their 2000 Super Bowl season. Smith would bring experience and a no-nonsense attitude to the Chargers, which they can certainly use.
The defense hasn’t been threatening for years, but there are some good pieces in place. Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward can pair to give the Chargers a nice duo in the secondary, while Joey Bosa has the makings of a blue-chip talent and a perennial Pro Bowler on the line.
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Matt Patricia, Patriots defensive coordinator
Another defensive option is Patricia, though he comes with different benefits as a candidate. Patricia has no head coaching experience but has emerged as a serious option for many teams with vacancies. The Patriots lead the league in scoring defense this season, which only bolsters his resume. He would bring discipline and a fiery attitude to a team that needs to increase intensity on defense and improve overall on that side of the ball.
He’s proved that he doesn’t need All-Pros to game plan around, either. The Patriots traded Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins in the last year, yet they’re still No. 1 in points allowed and rarely get exposed. Patricia can change the culture in San Diego.
Todd Haley, Steelers offensive coordinator
Haley came under fire early on in his tenure with the Steelers, but he’s absolutely righted the ship in recent years. Pittsburgh ranks toward the top of the league in just about every offensive category and has for the past two seasons. Haley is a big reason for that, as are Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.
He had a brief stint as a head coach in Kansas City, though it didn’t go as planned. He went 19-26 in three seasons, making the playoffs just once. However, he’s always been a candidate to return to the head coaching ranks. In San Diego, he can elevate the play of Philip Rivers, who has all the tools to be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Haley’s offense will fit the mold of the Chargers’ personnel with playmakers already in place. Rivers, Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen in Haley’s offense could be scary.
Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator
By far the hottest candidate out there, McDaniels would be a good fit for the Chargers if they want to continue their streak of hiring offensive minds. He would be able to go to a team with a stud quarterback already in place, unlike in Jacksonville or Buffalo. He and Philip Rivers would pair well together given McDaniels’ preference of throwing the ball more often than not.
McDaniels is a creative play caller and can devise a game plan for a Chargers team that seriously lacks diversity. With the personnel he has in New England, McDaniels is able to mix up play calling on a weekly basis, throwing it 40 times one game and 25 the next. San Diego isn’t as talented, but Melvin Gordon and Rivers are a good start.
Rich Bisaccia, Cowboys special teams coordinator
This is bit of an outside-the-box candidate. The Chargers need help on both sides of the ball when it comes to their next coach, but their special teams have been a bit of a mess, too. Bisaccia has been linked to vacancies in the past and would likely love to be a head coach someday. This offseason could see that happen.
The Cowboys’ special teams are great thanks to Dan Bailey and punter Chris Jones, and while they’ve had their share of penalties in that department, they’re an overall good unit. He’s a tough coach with a no-nonsense mindset, which would help clean up the problems San Diego has had in all three phases. Furthermore, he wouldn’t mess with Rivers’ game like a defensive-minded coach might.