The Los Angeles Chargers nearly lost the spark on their first day as the Los Angeles Chargers. First, they officially revealed what we all knew was coming: They were officially moving from San Diego. That came with a new lightning L.A. logo, which was panned viciously until the team announced it wasn’t its official logo. Then the Rams, their apparent crosstown rivals, announced they were hiring a new head coach, Sean McVay, making him the youngest head coach in NFL history. Chargers ownership waited years for this day, and they couldn’t even ensure that they’d get all the headlines on Day 1 of their existence.
But the San Diego Chargers of Los Angeles refused to get elbowed out of the spotlight. Late Thursday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that they were finalizing a deal with their own first-time head coach, Anthony Lynn of the Bills.
Lynn’s had a bit of a whirlwind, too. In September, he was promoted from his job as the Bills running backs coach to the team’s offensive coordinator after the firing of Greg Roman. In December, he was promoted to interim head coach after the firing of Rex Ryan. Buffalo passed him over for the full-time job, so he’s moving on to a slightly warmer environment.
That gives Lynn a total of 14 weeks as an offensive coordinator and a total of one week as a head coach. Normally I’d say “we can’t know what to expect from a coach with so little upper-level coaching experience,” but with Lynn, we have a pretty good idea. He’s a Rex Ryan protégé, and Ryan’s philosophy was “ground and pound.” Lynn helped facilitate that both with the Jets and the Bills. He’s been a running backs coach for almost his entire career, and he’s been one of the league’s best.
In both of his years with the Bills, they led the NFL in yards per carry and total yards. This year, they were miles ahead of the competition, averaging 5.3 yards per carry when nobody else averaged more than 4.9. When he coached with the Jets, the team’s run game was good enough to get to the AFC championship game twice with Mark Freakin’ Sanchez at quarterback.
Hiring a coach likely to have a run-first philosophy in 2017, though, seems a little bit like trying to start a relationship by taking out personal ads in the paper in 2017. I’m not sure that was ever a good idea, and it’s especially a bad one now that we’ve invented 40,000 more efficient strategies for what you’re trying to do. Even if it’s the best personal ad ever, it still seems misguided.
It also seems like a strange call for the Chargers, who finished 26th or worse in rushing yardage in their past three seasons. Any of their successes in the post–LaDainian Tomlinson era have been entirely due to Philip Rivers.
At the very least, Lynn’s Chargers will be different, both from their old selves and the other team in Los Angeles.
They’ll have to be. We’re not completely sure Los Angeles wants even one NFL team, and now it has two. There will be a war between them to attract new fans. It’s possible both will lose, but at least they’ll fight.