This article is part of a series “2020 Los Angeles Chargers: An Offseason in Review”. The first instalment will focus on changes in the coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is entering his 4th season at the helm and his staff remains largely intact. There were some minor defensive assistant coaching changes, most notably the promotion of Ryan Milus (son of the popular and underrated defensive backs coach Ron Milus) as defensive quality control coach. Under new leadership with a familiar face, the offensive side has reshaped its staff. As such, this article will focus on these moves.
1. Extended Head Coach Anthony Lynn for One Year
The Chargers avoided head coach Anthony Lynn from entering the year as lame-duck head coach status by giving him a 1-year contract extension. Considering the subpar 2019-2020 season, this was likely a low-cost move for the front office. However, it means that Lynn may be feeling the heat to ensure that the team meets its lofty expectations for SoFi’s inaugural season in 2020.
2. Retained Shane Steichen as Offensive Coordinator
After a Week 8 17-16 win against the Chicago Bears, the Chargers fired Ken Whisenhunt and promoted Shane Steichen to play-caller. They went on to win only two more games with the new play-caller, both impressive performances against the Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars. However, they continued to lack the ability to finish games by losing 4 games by one score or less. With an offseason for Steichen to implement his own offense, the offensive efficiency should improve. He will also have input on who becomes the Chargers’ quarterback of the future.
3. Vacant Quarterbacks Coach
As of this writing, there have not been any announcements for a quarterbacks coach. When asked if Steichen would remain as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, as he did the latter half of the 2019 season, Lynn responded, “I doubt that.” By leaving the vacancy open this long, is seems likely that they hire a coach that fits the new quarterback, whether that be veteran Tyrod Taylor, a rookie such as Tua Tagovailoa, Jordan Love, Justin Herbert), free agent Cam Newton or whomever else they view as their future.
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4. Hire Offensive Line Coach James Campen and Assistant David Diaz-Infante
The much-maligned offensive line for the Bolts gets an exciting hire in former Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns offensive line coach James Campen. From 2013 to 2018, he developed day three picks such as Scott Wells, Josh Sitton, TJ Lang and David Bakhtiari. With the 2019 Browns, he oversaw a unit that actually regressed. This may have had something to do with working under the overmatched ex-head coach Freddie Kitchens. Yet, it didn’t help to have players like super-bust Greg Robinson. The new Browns regime wanted their own staff, allowing Campen to fall into the Chargers’ lap.
They also brought in an ex-Charger in David Diaz-Infante, who most recently served on the New York Jets’ coaching staff. These signings helped inform key transactions along the offensive line and bode well for the development of young linemen Trey Pipkins, Forrest Lamp, Sam Tevi, Dan Feeney and Scott Quessenberry.
5. Hire Tight Ends Coach Alfredo Roberts
Prior to moving to tight ends coach, Roberts served as the running backs coach for the last two years—coaxing impressive performances out of Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Detrez Newsome and Troymaine Pope. From 2012-2015, Roberts previously coached tight ends with the Indianapolis Colts. This tenure was highlighted by Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen becoming the first pair of tight ends on the same team to score eight touchdowns each.
6. Hire Running Backs Coach Mark Ridgley
Among other positions, Mark Ridgley most recently served as an assistant offensive line coach for the Chargers. Since he’s been with the team for eight years, Lynn likely wanted to clear space for Campen while retaining him. Ridgley had a role in the aforementioned successes in running back development.
Looking forward, the next instalment of this series will focus on offseason roster transactions with its 2019-2020 roster.