Chargers wisely retain OC Ken Whisenhunt, DC Gus Bradley
By Matt Pagels
The Los Angeles Chargers are starting the new year off on the right foot.
According to the team’s official Twitter account, Los Angeles will keep offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley as part of head coach Anthony Lynn’s staff.
Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley and Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt will both return in 2018. ⚡⚡ pic.twitter.com/kW6iHmDu5c
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) January 10, 2018
Bradley, who was reportedly coveted by both the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, signed a three-year deal, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Whisenhunt’s contract has yet to be announced.
Before the season started, I questioned whether or not Lynn could turn this franchise around. A big reason why I thought he could was because of Bradley and Whisenhunt.
“I love the idea that Lynn has Whisenhunt and Bradley as his assistants. Both failed as head coaches but thrived as coordinators. With Whiz likely continuing his style of offense (we’ll see a more run-dominant playbook with Lynn in charge, but the familiarity with QB Philip Rivers and Co. is key) and Bradley bringing over his unique defensive scheme, the Chargers have a good core overall.”
A year later, retaining both coordinators makes perfect sense for Tom Telesco and the Chargers. It creates stability and maintains continuity.
The Chargers ranked No. 15 in total defense, but the unit allowed just 17.0 points per game, the third-best mark this season and fewest for the franchise since 1992. The defense also finished in the top 10 in sacks (43) and total takeaways (27), with two players (Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram) finishing with double-digit sacks. And according to ProFootballReference.com, they had the lowest red-zone scoring percentage (36.1) in the league, a big jump from last season (54.5, 15th-highest).
As for the offense, they really picked it up after a slow start. They finished No. 4 in total offense, averaging 376.6 yards per game. QB Philip Rivers finished second in passing with 4,515 yards, and RB Melvin Gordon finished seventh in rushing with 1,105 yards.
Numbers aside, both coordinators made an impact in the development of players. CB Trevor Williams, who struggled mightily in limited playing time a year ago, turned in an incredible performance filling in for the injured Jason Verrett. DL Darius Philon has also come a long way since being selected in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Philon, who has a ton of upside, could push for a starting role in 2018. Second-year pro Hunter Henry is already one of the best tight ends in the league, and WR Keenan Allen, who should win NFL Comeback Player of the Year, finished with career highs in receptions (102) and receiving yards (1,393). Undrafted rookie Austin Ekeler solidified himself as the No. 2 RB behind Gordon. And speaking of Gordon, he had back-to-back solid seasons with Whisenhunt running things.
And with all that, the offense was blowing out opponents for the first time in a long time. The defense played with attitude and the type of “swag” I never saw under former DC John Pagano.
It’s good to see the front office making the right moves.