Chargers coach Anthony Lynn given rest of season to save job
Questions about his future as an NFL head coach have become a staple of Anthony Lynn’s recent videoconferences with the media.
The queries continued Monday even with the Chargers planning to keep Lynn through the rest of the regular season.
“Right now, I don’t have time to worry about job status,” an embattled Lynn said. “As long as I’m the head coach here, my focus is trying to get this thing back on track and finish the season out the right way.”
Though nothing is guaranteed and is always subject to change, the Chargers do intend to give Lynn that opportunity, a person with knowledge of the situation said. They have four games remaining, beginning Sunday against Atlanta (4-8) at SoFi Stadium.
The team has no plans as of now to make any potential moves regarding Lynn and his staff until after the regular-season finale Jan. 3 at Kansas City.
At that point, the entire organization will be reevaluated to determine how best to proceed following a disappointing season in which the Chargers today sit at 3-9.
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They’ve lost five of their last six games and fell Sunday at home to New England 45-0, the largest margin of defeat in the franchise’s 61-year history.
“I’ve worked my tail off my whole life to get here,” Lynn said. “Yeah, I’m having a down year, and I understand people are going to take shots and people are going to be critical. That’s to be expected. But we have had some success here, as well. I think I’m the guy to get this back on the right track.”
In his fourth season, Lynn is 29-31 (1-1 in the playoffs) in his first full-time head coaching job. He was the interim in Buffalo for one game at the end of the 2016 season.
The Chargers were 9-7 in his first year and finished 12-4 and won an AFC wild-card playoff game in Lynn’s second season.
Since that victory, the Chargers are 8-21 and have struggled to hold leads and win close games.
On Sunday, they collapsed under the weight of more special teams follies in a loss that mathematically eliminated them from the playoffs, a fate that had been decided — in a practical sense — long ago.
“It’s pretty obvious there’s some problems,” defensive end Joey Bosa said Monday. “I don’t know. I don’t have the answers right now.”
Lynn and the Chargers have failed most notably with in-game strategy, clock management and communication. The results have included illogical play calls and frittered-away opportunities.
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After the last two defeats, Lynn called certain aspects of the Chargers’ performance “embarrassing.” He has criticized himself and his coaches throughout the season and employed the term “unacceptable” numerous times.
“That could be a reason why we’re repeating mistakes over and over,” Bosa said. “We’re not learning from past mistakes.”
Against the Patriots, the Chargers surrendered touchdowns on a punt return and a blocked field goal return and were behind 28-0 by halftime.
Their biggest offensive threat was a 46-yard field goal attempt that Michael Badgley sailed wide right in the first quarter. They never penetrated inside New England’s 25-yard line.
Even though the loss wasn’t surprising, the margin was stunning. The Chargers, over the past two seasons, had lost only once by more than 10 points.
“This last game, it’s definitely going to affect some guys,” Bosa said. “I’m going to just do my best to be there for guys and try to lead by example and be as positive as I can throughout the rest of the year.”
The absurdity of the Chargers’ loss to the Patriots was captured best by the fact they lined up in punting situations three times with the wrong number of players on the field.
Because of ongoing issues, Lynn suggested Monday he might take over coaching special teams for the reminder of the season. He was a special teams assistant for Denver in the early 2000s.
Last month, Lynn reassigned special teams coordinator George Stewart after problems in that area lingered and said assistants Keith Burns and Chris Caminiti would oversee the operation. Lynn also said he’d have some input.
“We may eliminate some of the coaching by committee, for sure,” he said Monday. “We’re going to do something. It’s going to be different, and it’s going to be better than what you saw [Sunday].”
The Chargers have struggled on special teams all season but their woes reached a whole new level in their 45-0 loss to the New England Patriots.
Lynn explained that a problem arose against New England when the Chargers left their base defense on the field in a second-half punting situation thinking the Patriots might run a fake despite having a big lead.
“Probably not the smartest thing to do and it caused a lot of confusion,” Lynn said.
Despite Badgley’s struggles, Lynn said the Chargers won’t be making a change this week. Badgley has missed nine kicks and had a 10th attempt blocked. Kicker JJ Molson is on the practice squad.
“If this continues, we might have to,” Lynn said on changing kickers. “But, right now, that guy’s only here for insurance.”
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