Charger Defense May Look Deceptively Good

Some instructions should be taped to the wall in the office of the Chargers’ defensive coordinator.

Don’t hang any pictures or paint any walls. Don’t use this as a forwarding address. Don’t buy a house. Don’t change the nameplate on the door because ‘occupant’ is personal enough. Pick up a key each day from the receptionist. And make yourself as comfortable as you can on the hibachi behind the desk. Cheers.

Guys have lasted longer at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot than guys last in that office on floor 1A of the stadium.

There was this nice guy named Jack Pardee who didn’t last, and this poet named Tom Bass, another nice guy, who didn’t last. Guys don’t last when that’s where the defense finishes.


When Bass was unhooked last fall, the fellow who replaced him for a while seemed to want to remain anonymous. He would have preferred to be known simply as “occupant.”

However, he was identified as Dave Adolph. That may have been a pseudonym. The cameras occasionally focused on this guy on the sidelines, but it may have been an actor hired from central casting.

Who, after all, would want this position? Personally, I’d rather be curator of reptiles at the zoo--or even mayor.

A chap named Ron Lynn now occupies this office. At least he was there Tuesday.


Sadly, I must report that this is another nice fellow. He probably has a pet poodle, Pekingese or maybe a parakeet, reads Harlequin romances, collects stamps and never improves his lie on the golf course. Drat.

When are the Chargers going to hire a Rambo type? Can’t they find anyone who picks his teeth with a bayonet? Wasn’t Dick Williams available?

Ron Lynn is a newlywed, of all things.

“I like to do things my wife and I can do together,” he said.


Aha, I thought, maybe we have a modern Bonnie and Clyde. Not exactly.

“We like to travel,” he continued, interrupting my pensive contemplation. “We went to Jamaica for our honeymoon. We like outdoor things, like bicycling and golf.”

On he went, talking about reading and fine restaurants and the theater and symphonies and movies and . . .

“One thing I’m really looking forward to,” he said, “is puttering around the house.”


What? He has bought a house?

This is a man who has coached at six different colleges or universities as well as with the Oakland Invaders of the United States Football League and chosen this occasion to get out of condominium living and into a house. A responsible real estate broker would have suggested something more along the lines of a motor home--or van.

Ron Lynn laughed.

“I didn’t realize the history of this position until I was on the job,” he said, “but there’s no more pressure here than there is anywhere else from a coach’s perspective. I’m not in this business for a secure situation. I was looking for a job when I found this one and I’ll be looking for a job when I find the next one. To me, the challenges are tremendous here and the potential rewards great.”


He is right about both the challenge and the potential rewards. Some day someone is going to put together a National Football League defense in Mission Valley, and that man will be hailed as a genius and a hero.

You see, defense is all this team needs. The Chargers would like to get to 48 points and not be worried about an extra point they missed in the first period. They don’t need a Bust ‘em Buddy Ryan defense. Just a defense.

Get this defense to the middle of the pack and the Chargers could find themselves in a Super Bowl.

That would be the highest of those potential rewards, but Ron Lynn is right about the challenges coming first.


As he pondered the challenges, a different side of this man began to emerge. He started to sound like a deceitful schemer, a master of disguise and camouflage. A con man with a chalkboard.

A perfect man for this job.

Charger defenses of recent vintage have been rather honest affairs. Too honest for their own good. They lined up and told the enemy: “What you see is what you’ve gotta beat.” What happened, of course, is that they got beaten.

Lynn has different ideas, a conglomeration, he says, of all the systems in which he has coached. The basis of the Lynn defense will be that the enemy will be looking at an optical illusion.


“Our offense,” he said, “is based on motion and multiple formations which produce recognition problems for the defense. There’s no reason our defense can’t operate the same way with different fronts, stunts, dogs, blitzes, coverages and substitution groups.”

This will not be yet another year of “bend but don’t break” defense hereabouts. It will be defense with daring, a swashbuckling affair designed more to bamboozle than batter.

Lynn’s theory is that a little flimflammery will give a mediocre player a chance to be good, a good player a chance to be great and a great player a chance to dominate.

“Let’s say one of our guys is getting his tail kicked play after play,” he said. “He’s playing as hard as he can, but the guy across from him is so much better he could be playing with his hair on fire and he still wouldn’t win. So we change his alignment before or after the snap or we rush him inside one play and outside the next. You can take a guy who’s not a Pro Bowl player and enhance his chances by lining him up in different places.”


This theory will first be put into place shortly after 1 p.m. on Sept. 7, when Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins break the huddle against the Charger defense.

“That,” said Lynn, “is a sobering thought.”

If all goes well, this nice guy will show up for work one morning and find an interior decorator waiting to consult with him on his favorite color scheme. He may even get his own key, and a chair.

Meanwhile, Ron, putter around that new house--but don’t spend a fortune on the landscaping.