LA Chargers: Why keeping Shane Steichen would be a massive mistake
By Jason Reed
The LA Chargers ended their head coach search on Sunday night as Ian Rapoport first reported — and the team later confirmed — that Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley would be hired to be the team’s next head coach.
The focus has since been turned to how the Chargers will build the rest of the coaching staff around Staley. The need for a defensive coordinator is minimal, but it is important that the team hires the right offensive coordinator to aid Justin Herbert’s progression.
We explored three exciting options for the offensive coordinator job in an article posted earlier today. There is an unexciting option that could legitimately happen as well: retaining current offensive coordinator Shane Steichen.
NFL insider Tom Pelissero tweeted that Steichen is a strong internal option for the Bolts. The Athletic’s Michael Lombardi said on the Hammer Dahn Podcast that the Chargers made it clear in the hiring process that they want to keep their offensive coaching staff.
We will find out how true this is as the days go on, but one thing is absolutely certain.
The LA Chargers keeping Shane Steichen would be terrible.
Look, there was a lot of intrigue around Shane Steichen heading into the 2020 season and he earned it. The playcalling and offense did get better when he took over for Ken Whisenhunt in 2019 and he was a fresh, new face at coordinator that seemingly understands the modern-style of football.
That intrigue fizzled as the year went on. While Steichen did the base-level to make sure that Justin Herbert was a good quarterback, he certainly did not maximize his quarterback’s strengths in a way that a truly good offensive coordinator would.
At times it felt like Philip Rivers was still back there. The team very rarely ran designed rollouts despite how effective they were with Herbert and Steichen was part of the running problem.
The Chargers threw the ball a lot, but my biggest gripe about the team last season was and always will be the first-down playcalling.
According to @SharpFootball’s statistics, the Chargers were 9th in first-down run frequency (53%). They were the only team in the top 10 to average fewer than 4 yards per carry (3.9) and had the lowest success rate (42%).
All while having a sensational QB under center.
— Jason Reed (@EatYourReedies) January 14, 2021
We want to put all the blame on Anthony Lynn, and he certainly deserves most of it as he was the one establishing the offensive philosophy, but Steichen absolutely had a hand in that. Now, to play devil’s advocate, the hope is that Staley would implement a new offensive philosophy to allow Steichen to utilize Herbert more.
But still, I would not say that the play designs were all that special in LA. How often do you see a team like Kansas City or Buffalo use pre-snap motion compared to the Chargers? It is a tilted balance.
And let’s not forget: Steichen was the one that called the now-infamous run play as the clock expired in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons after making the SAME EXACT mistake two weeks prior against Buffalo.
Again, Lynn deserves blame as the head coach, but Steichen legitimately thought that running the ball in that situation was a good idea. How are we going to trust him as the primary play-caller in a high-pressure situation when the LA Chargers have a defensive-minded head coach?
The Chargers need someone who can completely take control of the playcalling and do so with confidence, not someone who might panic in big situations, as Steichen did there and against Buffalo.
If the LA Chargers want to keep part of the offensive coaching staff then they should keep Pep Hamilton and elevate him instead of keeping Steichen.