Key to Chargers Success Hinges on Improved Coaching

Oct 12, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy (right) looks on as offensive coordinator Frack Reich (background, middle) looks at his play book during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 12, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy (right) looks on as offensive coordinator Frack Reich (background, middle) looks at his play book during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

With the peak action of the offseason now behind us after the conclusion of this year’s draft the doldrums of summer minicamps and OTA’s are upon us. This time of year always seems to be the slowest on everyone’s football calendars as we move towards three months of minimal news regarding football operations both on and off the field. Since everything regarding player personnel has essentially been covered by the excellent writers here at Bolt Beat I thought it would be nice to change pace a little bit and focus on the coaching aspect on our 2016-2017 San Diego Chargers. Without further delay let’s dive right into the minds of our head coach and coordinators who will decide how well our team performs next season.

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Below I have listed three paragraphs, each individually describing what job each coach should focus on during games next year. In a nutshell I’ll be giving my viewpoint on how I would coach each aspect of the team going into next season.

Mike McCoy: Let the coordinators do their jobs, be more aggressive 

This one is relatively self explanatory. Far too many times have we seen coach McCoy either not go for it on fourth and short on the opponents side of the field or not let Lambo attempt a field goal past 53 yards or so. Every time this occurs the team is potentially throwing away points and certainly not giving the defense any prolonged rest between drives. Pair that with seemingly repetitive poor clock management at the end of halves and you find yourselves wondering if McCoy is so conservative that he folds with a straight flush in poker. With Whisenhut back things should change, as he seemed to be in complete control of the offensive decisions in his last stint with us, but nonetheless McCoy should butt out when it’s decision making time.Now I don’t know for certain how much influence McCoy has on late game defensive strategy, and I’m assuming it’s not much, but I for one am also sick and tired of watching us blow a late fourth quarter lead with a prevent tissue paper defense. I’m not saying it’s all McCoy’s fault, but the conservatism displayed in that zone prevent defense SCREAMS McCoy’s involvement somewhere along the line. The bottom line is McCoy could change the complexity of the game by managing the clock better and being more aggressive on the opponent’s side of the field.

John Pagano: Play press coverage, Stack the box more often, Don’t be afraid to play rookies

To Pagano’s credit San Diego seemed to play more press coverage last year than in year’s past but I believe that the rate at which this defense tactic was used should increase even more this season. With Verrett and his Pro Bowl-caliber play coming back, alongside newcomer Casey Hayward locking down the slot and a rejuvenated Brandon Flowers hoping to recapture his mojo after an offseason of intense training, the cornerbacks on this team should be more than capable of locking down their man long enough for the front seven to get to the QB. Pagano should avoid playing the cornerbacks 6-10 yards off the wide receiver on the snap to eliminate any short gains on first and second down. Pagano should also consider stacking the box more often on early downs and especially in short yardage situations. Too many times have I witnessed our team give up between five and seven yards on first down. Yes, adding Brandon Mebane and Joey Bosa will lead to a vast improvement against the run. However, giving the defense the numbers advantage in the box should only further improve the team’s defense against the run. Finally, even though the chances of this occurring are slim to none, Pagano shouldn’t be afraid to play Joshua Perry and Jatavis Brown consistently on defense. Each of these players are lined up to see significant snaps on special teams, but they shouldn’t just be limited to that portion of the game. I’m not saying that they should see significant playing time on defense, I’m just saying they should see consistent playing time. Basically what I mean by that, they should see the field roughly 20-35% of defensive snaps. In all actuality, we will probably only see them on the field somewhere between 10-15% of the defensive snaps.

Sidenote: I do in fact realize that the defensive scheme stated above is a riverboat gambler’s type of attitude. I know some are thinking that “No cornerback in the league can stay attached to their man 24/7 and with our suspect safeties, doesn’t that open up opportunities for big plays?” Well I’m glad that you pointed that out and yes, you are correct on that assumption. Big plays down the field will happen from time to time but my thought process is this:

If you allow a team to constantly gain four yards on average every play per drive, they are going to score in most cases. At the same time, if you allow one 70-yard touchdown, then the same amount of points are essentially put on the board. The only difference is the amount of time it took to score. In my personal opinion, I’d rather take one shot to the head with a long touchdown and let our offense get back on the field, than have a death-by-a-thousand-cuts touchdown and tire the defense as a result. Also, a more aggressive scheme on defense should, in theory, lead to more turnovers and sacks if executed successfully. Turnovers and sacks, oddly enough, are two areas on the defense that must see improvement if the team hopes to succeed.

Ken Whisenhut: Do what you did in 2013

If Whiz does what he did for the offense in 2013, we will make the playoffs. This includes igniting a stagnant run game and calling quick pass plays that put less pressure on the offensive line. I for one will be especially happy if Whiz rips out the HB draw play in our playbook and burns it before the season begins.

In conclusion, I  believe that this year’s squad has more than enough talent to not only make the postseason, but win a few games there as well. However, as the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink it.” No matter how talented the team as a whole is, they will only go as far as their coaching lets them. Just look at how recent postseason trips have ended for the Cincinnati Bengals if you don’t believe me. So how do you think the team should be run this year? Should we be more aggressive? Or should we roll out a game plan similar to year’s past?

Drop a comment in the comment section below and let us here at Bolt Beat know!