While the LA Chargers have never won a Super Bowl (and have only played in one), the franchise still has a long history that has included some really good (and really bad) head coaches.
Earlier this offseason we ranked every head coach for the Chargers since the turn of the century. That ranking was subjective and was based on several factors, not just the outright numbers and statistics.
But what if we did rank every Chargers head coach simply by wins? This might not be indicative of which head coach is better per se, but it does give a good idea on which head coaches lasted with the team longer.
Ranking every Chargers head coach by career wins:
The under 10 wins club: Ron Waller (1-5 lifetime record), June Jones (3-7 lifetime record), Kevin Gilbride (6-16 lifetime record), Harland Svare (7-17-2 lifetime record), Charlie Waller (9-7-3 lifetime record)
These former Chargers head coaches failed to even pick up 10 wins during their time with the team. Most of these coaches were interim coaches and lasted no more than one season with team. Perhaps the worst of the bunch is Kevin Gilbride, who could only rack up six wins in his 22 games coached.
12. Mike Riley: 14-34 lifetime record
Mike Riley coached a full three seasons with the Chargers and could only muster 14 wins to his name. Riley was the coach at the helm for the worst season in franchise history (2000) in which the Bolts only won one game and it was by one point. Ouch.
11. Dan Henning; 16-32 lifetime record
Prior to joining the Chargers, Dan Henning had a pretty bad stint with the Atlanta Falcons that resulted in a 22-41-1 record. So of course the Chargers decide to hire him so he could come and stink up the joint, never finishing with better than a 6-10 record in a season.
10. Al Saunders; 17-22 lifetime record
Al Saunders had to take over for Hall of Fame head coach Don Coryell and he was not able to replicate the success that Coryell had (even though Coryell's teams struggled at the end of his tenure). Saunders put together a winning 8-7 season in 1987 but was shown the door after posting a 6-10 record in 1988.
9. Brandon Staley; 17-14 lifetime record
Brandon Staley has the same lifetime wins as Saunders but he is obviously going to pass him in 2023 as the Chargers are probably going to win at least one game. If the Chargers have a really good season, he could jump two spots on this list.
8. Tommy Prothro; 21-39 record
The man before Coryell. Tommy Prothro was hired to be a savior of sorts in 1974 and he proved to be far from that. The Chargers went a combined 7-21 in Prothro's first two seasons as head coach and he somehow kept the job for another three years until he was fired during the 1978 season.
7. Mike McCoy; 27-37 lifetime record
Tom Telesco's first head coach hire did not go as planned. Some of Mike McCoy's teams really struggled in the talent department and had Philip Rivers throwing to tomato cans but that is not an excuse for his poor coaching. Somehow, someway, McCoy made the playoffs and is one of just six coaches on this list to win a playoff game.
6. Anthony Lynn; 33-31 lifetime record
Telesco's next head coach hire was better, but still was not great. Anthony Lynn had all the makings of being a good head coach and genuinely seemed to be a great players coach, which certainly means something. He just let the game get away from him time and time again and proved that sometimes guys are just meant to be position coaches or coordinators, not head coaches.
5. Marty Schottenheimer; 47-33 lifetime record
Marty Schottenheimer should be higher on this list as he should not have been fired after the 2006 season. If Marty McCree doesn't fumble his interception of Tom Brady then Schottenheimer would at least be two spots higher on this list. Instead, he had to finish his Chargers career with fewer playoff wins than McCoy.
4. Bobby Ross; 47-33 lifetime record
Bobby Ross and Schottenheimer had the exact same regular-season record but Ross has three playoff wins under his belt, so he gets the nod to make the Chargers' Mount Rushmore of winning coaches. Ross is also the only coach in franchise history to make the Super Bowl, so that is obviously worth something.
3. Norv Turner; 56-40 lifetime record
Norv Turner took over the really talented Chargers team that Schottenheimer left behind and definitely benefitted from it. Did Turner do anything to make those Chargers teams better? Probably not. Would the Chargers have won a ring with a better head coach? Maybe. But this was one of the most talented periods in franchise history and Turner has three playoff wins to show for it.
2. Don Coryell; 69-56 lifetime record
The greatest coach in franchise history actually does not have the most wins in franchise history. There were some pretty bad years under Coryell but he also led arguably the most decorated team in franchise history with Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow and Co. He also coached at a much more competitive time than No. 1 on this list.
1. Sid Gillman; 86-53-6 lifetime record
Sid Gillman was the first coach in franchise history and coached a total of 145 games for the Chargers, which is 20 more than second place (Coryell). As legendary as Gillman is, only 10 of his career games were coached after the NFL-AFL merger. He does have one of the most impressive (and underrated) coaching trees in league history, though.