An unprecedented day in Chargers history will end with a new head coach.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the Chargers have hired former Bills interim coach and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The first-time head coach has agreed to a four-year deal with the team, Rapoport added.
Lynn’s meteoric rise will land in Los Angeles, agreeing to coach the team that just announced Thursday morning that it was leaving San Diego after 56 seasons.
Just four months ago, Lynn was working under Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Rex Ryan promoted Lynn over Roman after two early losses, and then Lynn took over when Rex was fired before Week 17.
Lynn, who played in the NFL for six seasons, has earned his reputation as a running game guru. The Jets had strong rushing attacks in his time there and he brought one of the most versatile, complex running schemes to Buffalo. The Bills finished first among all NFL teams by a wide margin in part because of the diversity of their scheme and the excellent cohesion on the offensive line.
This will be a steep learning curve for Lynn, who has not been a head coach on any level before now. (His first time even running an offense was in Buffalo this season.) Not only will Lynn have to learn how to run an organization, he will have to do it as the Chargers pack up and move. The team has already announced it will play in the 30,000-seat StubHub Center in Carson, California for two seasons before it moves in with the Rams in Inglewood in 2019. In the meantime, the Chargers previously announced they will set up team headquarters in Costa Mesa, California.
While the idea of moving a franchise sounds daunting for a new staff, Lynn can smile when looking at his roster. As Chris Wesseling wrote Thursday, this is a playoff-ready roster. The Chargers have a legitimate franchise quarterback in Philip Rivers and considerable talent around him like pass rusher Joey Bosa, cornerback Jason Verrett, wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back Melvin Gordon. The depth of talent is solid on both sides of the ball, especially if Lynn can turn around the offensive line.
The team’s coaching staff looks just as promising. Rapoport reports Lynn hopes to retain Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and hire former Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator. Having two former head coaches on his staff, both of whom have found success as coordinators, would make Lynn’s transition easier. Rivers would certainly appreciate not having to learn a new offense at 35 years old. Lynn would presumably tweak some of the team’s running concepts to fit his style of offense.
It is odd that the Chargers‘ head coach hire feels like an afterthought on a dizzying day in Los Angeles that also included the Rams hiring a new boss. But these are odd times in Southern California, with one great city mourning the departure of a franchise while Los Angeles tries to make room for another.