Re-evaluating Tom Telesco and Finding the Right Type of Coaching Staff

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By Tyler Lawrence December 10, 2020 1 Comment
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With what might be the most embarrassing season for the Los Angeles Chargers ever, it is time for the team to make some drastic changes this offseason. Over the past two years, the Chargers have a record of 8-20 (.285) and will likely finish last in the AFC West…again. To get this ship back on course here is the first step to winning the offseason.

Re-Evaluate Tom Telesco and his Seven Year Career as General Manager

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Tom Telesco has not been a bad general manager in terms of building a competitive roster. In fact, Telesco’s primary strength is evaluating talent. He made a name for himself as a scout for the Indianapolis Colts from 1998-2005 and held the role of Director of Player Personnel from 2006-2012 at only 32 years old. During his time in Indy, the Colts built a dynasty that went 154-86 (.642), made 12 post-season appearances, won eight Division Titles, and won Super Bowl XLIV over the Chicago Bears.

That success never made its way to San Diego and only a sliver of it made its way to Los Angeles. The issue with Telesco isn’t in his ability to find talent and build competitive rosters. Telesco has drafted fairly well and brought in enough productive free agents at below market value, earning him the nickname Coupon Tom (though admittedly, Telesco has failed to bring in capable starters on the offensive line).

Telesco’s Head Coach Hirings Both Fall Short of Expectations

Where his issue lies is building a winning culture. Typically, the General Manager hires the Head Coach and the Head Coach hires his coaching staff. Telesco was given the ability to hire his own head coaches (as long as it was given the Spanos family stamp of approval of course). Telesco’s first hiring was Mike McCoy who lasted from 2013-2016 and had a 28-38 (.422) record.

After the McCoy failed experiment, Telesco hired Anthony Lynn. Lynn enjoyed one successful season in 2018 that looks much more like a fluke today. Currently, Lynn is 30-33 (.476) and is in full panic mode. He’s completely taken over special teams, having serious lapses in interviews (comparing the Chargers 2020 season to Pearl Harbour ring a bell?), making terrible in-game decisions involving the clock, and has the entire Chargers fanbase standing outside his door with torches and pitchforks.

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Not Hiring the Best Head Coach Candidates Available

When you look at the hiring of Mike McCoy and Anthony Lynn, it makes you wonder who else was available? Well, Andy Reid and Bruce Arians were available in 2013, but the rest of the 2013 class was largely a miss: Doug Marrone, Chip Kelly, Marc Trestman, Rob Chudzinski, and, “gulp” Gus Bradley. But, the 2017 class of head coaches was full of MAJOR hits!

Sean McDermott (33-25 record as head coach) has taken the Buffalo Bills from AFC East after-thought to division leaders. For reference, the Bills have not won their division since 1995! Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay are both creative play-callers that were hired in the same year as Lynn and each of them has a Super Bowl appearance. Lynn wasn’t one of the top-3 hires in his own coaching class.

It is Time to Move on from Tom Telesco as General Manager

Through two head coach hires, Telesco has failed to bring in the best coach available both times. Since 2013, Tom Telesco’s record as Chargers general manager is 56-68 (.452). The only players who remain since Telesco became general manager are Pro Bowlers Keenen Allen and Melvin Ingram (and technically Jahleel Addae). The constant that drives change is Telesco and it’s time to move on. He is indirectly responsible for the losing culture.

Setting the Front Office and Coaching Staff

Without getting into specifics, the replacement for Telesco has to be someone who meets certain criteria. The new hiring has to be someone who has won, has a track record for finding talent in the draft, comes from an organization that is well run, and actually has been in the decision-making process for their team (sorry, but this is a no all Patriots). Based on these characteristics, the Spanos family should focus on hiring away candidates from a shortlist of teams who have had success over the last 10 years.

Specifically, the Seahawks, Saints, Colts, Steelers, and Ravens have had the most consistent front-office success over this time frame. There are other candidates from other clubs to be found for sure, and due diligence must be taken into consideration when looking for candidates to interview, but focusing on members from organizations with winning cultures is a recipe for success.

The replacement for the head coach should follow a similar strategy. The Head Coach should be able to build a staff that includes a creative play-caller able to take advantage of the strengths of Justin Herbert as the future of the offense. The Defensive Coordinator likely will need to have a 4-3 base defense background to take advantage of Joey Bosa and using a healthy Derwin James effectively is a must. They are the focal points on that side of the ball. The Special Teams Coordinator has to be better than George Stewart.

Understanding the Role of the General Manager and Head Coach

Once the General Manager is hired, he will need to hire a coach who meets similar characteristics and understands his role and how it is different from the general manager. The worst-case scenario is that the general manager and head coach enter a power struggle to do each other’s job. The two need to be able to build a relationship where their jobs complement each other.

The General Manager hires his scouting staff to find and evaluate players in the NFL Draft. They review available free agents based on budget and team fit. The general manager also sets the culture of the organization. When employees come into the office, they have the mindset that is set by the GM on how to go about the day-to-day routine.

The Head Coach hires his coaching staff and sets the scheme of the team with input from his coordinators. He provides input on players in the draft and ultimately develops them. The head coach makes decisions involving the gameplan, game management, and how to prepare his team each week. The two need to communicate with one another about their specific roles to have a working relationship.

Finalizing the Front Office and Coaching Staff

Come February, the front office and coaching staff has to be set. There are pieces that will be leftover that might be worth keeping. Kevin Kelly and the rest of the college scouting staff has done a phenomenal job in player evaluation. The change to the general manager is meant to bring a change to the culture that trickles down to the rest of the organization.

Shane Steichen has shown moments of brilliance as Offensive Coordinator. He could develop further if the new head coach chooses to keep him around. There are positional coaches who have fared well. Pep Hamilton has done a fine job with Justin Herbert as has Phil McGeoghan with the receivers. The defensive side of the ball has seen success with Ron Milus in the secondary.

Once the front office and coaching staff have been finalized, it’s time to make big changes to the roster. Stay tuned for part two.

 


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Zed

December 11, 2020

A.complete restructure,.have the board of directors vote out Spanos, clearly they've been disconnected from the Chargers Brand let alone the teams identify, 2 change leadership from top to bottom, 3) bring in Belechk, clearly he knows how to manage entire team. And a winning atmosphere. 4th. Hire new owner that can bring this Team back to San Diego. Work out the kinks with the city and build your own Stadium, that has you name only. Revive your identiy, get your Fans back. Restore your Brand.

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