The Chargers’ Anthony Lynn has surrounded himself with head-coaching experience
The large glass windows inside the American Express Club at StubHub Center offered a picturesque pitch that the Los Angeles Chargers will turn into their home field.
Across the room is a private bar, cold beer on tap. To the left, there are private restrooms and a kitchen capable of churning out high-end food — certainly, at least, by stadium standards.
It is, as one longtime Chargers staffer pointed out, “the best seat in the house.”
But even with the taps turned off, new Chargers Coach Anthony Lynn might’ve found an even better view. As he stood on stage in that room introducing his coordinators, Lynn was surrounded by years of head-coaching experience, and he couldn’t have been more comfortable.
“Something is going to cross my desk that I haven’t been exposed to, and they’re going to help me with it, and that’s going to help the organization,” Lynn said. “That’s all I care about.”
The Chargers and Lynn will have former Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator and retained Ken Whisenhunt, a former head coach with Arizona and Tennessee, as offensive coordinator. The two have combined to coach 181 regular-season games in the NFL from Lynn’s new position.
It’s a no-brainer, right?
A new coach is surrounding himself with people who have proven they can, with varying levels of success, function as an NFL coach. Their expertise is invaluable, and if it helps Lynn even a little, it’s worth it, right?
Well, not everyone thinks so.
“I’ve had people ask me why I’d want to bring two head coaches to the staff, guys who have been there and done it who may want to be in your shoes,” Lynn said.
In the NFL, only 32 people get to be head coach. Supply is ample; opportunity is scarce.
With ownership taking a team into a new city and with veterans at key positions, expectations for success are within the organization. Maybe if things get off to a rough start, if things don’t go quite as planned, Lynn would have more leeway if there weren’t so many replacement options around.
But the Chargers’ new head coach doesn’t think like that.
“That doesn’t bother me,” he said confidently. “I know those guys. Those guys have my back.”
Lynn cited his relationships with the men as to why he felt confident adding all that experience to his staff.
Lynn met Bradley in 2015 when he interviewed to be Bradley’s offensive coordinator in Jacksonville, a simple interview turning into an all-day affair with the two men speaking for approximately seven hours.
“I’m excited to get back and coach the defense. Head coach? I’m good, man,” Bradley said. l “I want to really just do everything I can in my role and help this team with this unit. That’s my focus. We want to help this organization get better with no agenda. We don’t want anything in return. We’re not out to get anything. It’s got to be pure. And I think that’s what Anthony and I learned in those seven hours.”
With Whisenhunt, it was more mutual admiration from afar, with the two men speaking about someday, somehow trying to figure a way to work together. With Whisenhunt already in place with the Chargers, keeping him on made too much sense.
“I think Anthony is very comfortable in his resume and his knowledge of the game and what he’s done,” Whisenhunt said. “I think one of the hardest things as a head coach is being able to hire a staff. You go in with the idea that you’re going to get all these guys and a lot of times, that doesn’t work out. I know this: As a head coach, I would want the best guys I could get on my staff.
“If they were former head coaches and they were the best guys, it wouldn’t matter to me.”
And, that has been Lynn’s approach with his coordinators, who also include longtime NFL assistant George Stewart as associate head coach and special teams coordinator. He’s relying on relationships and reputations, and because of that, he’s not looking over his shoulders.
“Anthony,” Bradley said, “he’s strong.”
And, he’s secure.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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