LA Chargers News

Chargers’ special teams anything but special

Dec 24, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; San Diego Chargers kicker Josh Lambo (2) and Cleveland Browns strong safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun (20) react after a field goal was blocked during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns won 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 24, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; San Diego Chargers kicker Josh Lambo (2) and Cleveland Browns strong safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun (20) react after a field goal was blocked during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns won 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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“There’s some things I know about the kicking game, but I’ve really gotta get into it. The first day last year on punt team I walk out there and say ‘I’m gonna watch this punter,’ and he launches this ball about 70 yards in the air and I said ‘OK I’ve seen enough’…the first punt last offseason I said ‘OK I’ve seen enough I don’t have to worry about him’.”

When I first heard this from Mike McCoy, I loved it.

October 9, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers punter Drew Kaser (8) misses the snap on a field goal attempt in front of kicker Josh Lambo (2) during the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

He is referencing former star punter Mike Scifres here, and praising his ability to punt the ball. So much so, that while he was the head coach of the San Diego Chargers, he never had to worry about the special teams unit.

But what was originally a great quote from McCoy showing off some humor now represents to me another fundamental flaw of the now former head coach’s philosophy: He never really cared about special teams. And here in 2016, boy did it show.

Josh Lambo, the former Texas A&M kicker, went 26-for-32 this season, good for a 81.3 percent conversion rate. While that only grades out to about a B-, consider this: Every single playoff team except the Miami Dolphins had a higher conversion rate. Lambo also missed every kick from over 50 yards this season. Yesterday against the Chiefs, the Chargers kicker booted his third kickoff out of bounds, which resulted in fantastic field position for the opposition. He is beginning to become unreliable for his team and makes costly errors when consistency is a must.

The issues on special teams extends to the team’s inability to close out games as well. Need to put pressure on the Chiefs on the road? Punter Drew Kaser came up with a 28.6 yard average. About to force overtime against the Raiders? No, the Chargers muffed the field goal snap. Onside kicks, a desperation play that rarely works? They gave up two. 

Special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman will more than likely be relieved of duty, as his unit has been simply awful and careless the entire season. Hopefully, the next head coach can prioritize special teams and improve that phase of football. Not since the days of Darren Sproles have we had a competent returner who was a danger to score every time he touched the ball. McCoy never made an effort to improve special teams, and it has hurt this team all season.

Two names that have been mentioned to replace McCoy are Rich Bisaccia, special teams coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, and Dave Toub, who shares the same title with the Kansas City Chiefs. I personally would not mind either as an option, provided that they are a confident leader with some charisma and toughness. They would be cheap (Spanos approved), not change Philip Rivers’ current game plan, and would vastly improve our mediocre at best special teams.

Should the next Chargers’ head coach be a special teams coordinator, following the likes of a John Harbaugh?

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