Column: Anthony Lynn should remain Chargers coach, get chance to fix snakebit team
The CBS broadcasting team was just beginning to talk about the Chargers’ injury woes when running back Kalen Ballage — who was signed to the practice squad in October and promoted last week because of injuries — missed a blocking assignment, leading to a Justin Herbert sack. Two snaps later, the punt attempt was blocked after Ty Long bobbled the ball. The Miami Dolphins recovered it at the one-yard line and a snap later, rookie Salvon Ahmed walked in for his first rushing touchdown.
Of course none of this is coach Anthony Lynn’s fault.
But does it matter?
An L is an L and despite having the respect of everyone in the organization and many football aficionados outside of it, it’s hard not to see his seat being any temperature but flaming hot thanks to the Bad-News-Bears-like sequences that happened Sunday. The team’s 29-21 defeat was its third straight. At 2-7, it appears the squad will miss the postseason for the third time in Lynn’s four years at the helm. Since Lynn’s hiring, the Chargers have been snakebitten by injuries to key players, held back by an aging Phillip Rivers and derailed by a god-awful kicking game. But despite this, they haven’t given up, illustrated by the fact each loss has been by a single possession. It is encouraging to know this injury-riddled and inexperienced team hasn’t been blown out, regardless of opponent.
But does it matter when it can’t seem to hold on to double-digit leads regardless of opponents? The Chargers are now 3-16 in one-score games since 2019. But it’s not just the fact they are losing, it’s the various ways. At one point, the Chargers were up 24-3 in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos. At one point, they were outrushing them 152 to 4 … and they lost 31-30.
Not since Prince Akeem landed in Queens has a noble quest been met with such comically disastrous results.
The Justin Herbert vs. Tua Tagovailoa duel never materializes, but special-teams miscues cost the Chargers in a 29-21 loss at Miami as a sour streak continues.
If you believe Urban Meyer — and to be honest, I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t given his history to fudge the truth — there are no bad players or bad coaches. The retired three-time national champion head coach said so Saturday during an episode of “Big Noon Kickoff” in a clip that quickly went viral. He said when teams struggle it’s because of one of three reasons: lack of trust, dysfunctional work environment, or selfishness. It’s not because the players or coaches are inherently bad. It’s hard to argue with someone who has won as much as Meyer, yet I’m having a hard time latching any of those reasons to this team.
Maybe it’s because I have a blind spot when it comes to good guys. I have no problem taking shots at a jerk coach with a losing record but a good guy gets the benefit of the doubt. Clay Helton, good guy. Doc Rivers, good guy. Luke Walton, good guy. Dave Roberts, good guy. And for all four, I can find a rational reason why they fell short. Fortunately for me, Roberts is no longer in that category, and Walton and Rivers are no longer here. I felt as if I was beginning to sound stupid looking for reasons not to state the obvious.
And I’m probably about to sound stupid here but here goes — Lynn deserves another season.
His starting quarterback suffered a punctured lung in an accident by the team’s medical staff. An extremely talented rookie, who had no real camp or preseason, is now starting. Star safety Derwin James is out for the season. Joey Bosa is in concussion protocol. There are starting players who were on the practice squad last month. How, I repeat, how can anyone blame Lynn for not winning a fight with both of his hands tied behind his back? In a year like no other, in the middle of a fragile season constantly threatened by positive COVID-19 tests, are the Chargers really looking to fire a good coach riddled with bad luck?
The Chargers’ miscues on special teams, including a punt that was blocked, did nothing to help their chances in Sunday’s 29-21 loss to the Dolphins.
Play calling, time outs, team preparation — yeah those things fall on him. But it doesn’t appear as if he’s lost his locker room. On Sunday, the Chargers were experiencing their largest deficit of the season, 14-0, on the road against a winning team with growing confidence and continued to compete. They continue to fight. That’s a result of the culture put in place by Lynn, one of the most high-character men I’ve met.
That should count for something. It needs to count for something.
But when this painful season ends, will it?
Go beyond the scoreboard
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