The San Diego Chargers continued their headlong descent into dreadfulness on Sunday, losing to the heretofore winless Cleveland Browns 20-17. The loss all but sealed San Diego head coach Mike McCoy’s fate, as the 44-year-old fourth-year coach will almost assuredly be fired. Following a 4-12 campaign last season, a 5-10 record so far in 2016 is not going to leave him in good standing. It’s time for both parties to move on.
Luckily for the Chargers, there are plenty of better options out there whether the team remains in San Diego or moves to Los Angeles. Here’s a look at five coaches who could fit the bill.
Kyle Shanahan, Atlanta Falcons Offensive Coordinator
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Shanahan is a fast-rising coordinator who is in charge of one of the NFL’s best offenses this season. The Falcons entered Week 16 second in the NFL in total yards per game (412.9), third in passing yards per game (296.1) and eighth in rushing yards per game (116.7). Meanwhile, Atlanta leads the NFL in points per game (33.5) by a wide margin over second place (29.0) and quarterback Matt Ryan is a leading contender for MVP.
The 37-year-old Shanahan has worked wonders in his two years with the Falcons, but has extensive experience elsewhere. He has been an NFL offensive coordinator somewhere during every season since 2008, when he was just 29 years old.
Shanahan’s father is long-time NFL head coach Mike Shanahan, so he has the pedigree and knows what being a head coach would entail. He’ll almost certainly be leading an NFL team next season. The Chargers would be wise to get into the mix for his services early.
Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator
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McDaniels had his shot as a head coach for two seasons in Denver and it did not go well. Aside from several off-field controversies, he posted a dismal record of 11-17 before being fired in the middle of the 2010 campaign. But in 2012 he returned to his old post in New England and has been regarded as one of the league’s best offensive coordinators ever since.
McDaniels was a “personnel assistant” for the Pats in 2001, a defensive assistant from 2002-03, the team’s quarterbacks coach from 2004-05 and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2006-08 and from 2012 until now. He has won four Super Bowls with the organization as well as five AFC titles, and the Ohio native has done all of that by the age of 40.
Someone is going to give McDaniels the chance to be a head coach again. He has a brilliant offensive mind and has spent a ton of time learning under one of the best head coaches in NFL history as a protege of Bill Belichick. He’s certainly worthy of a look.
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers Head Coach
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Rivera has his Panthers sitting at 6-9 a year after taking them to a 15-1 regular season record and reaching the Super Bowl. There have been rumors all season that Rivera was on the hot seat and rather than deal with a potential firing or lame duck season next year, he could choose to leave for another gig. Ian Rapoport has speculated as much.
Rivera has deep ties to San Diego, as he spent a year with the Bolts as the team’s linebackers coach in 2007 before being the offensive coordinator from 2008 to 2010. The job he did with the Bolts’ defense is what earned him his job as the Panthers’ head coach in 2011. He’s 53-38-1 as a head coach and has guided Carolina to three straight NFC South titles.
The 54-year-old Rivera is a California native and whether the Chargers are in San Diego or Los Angeles, he could be looking to switch coasts back to his home state.
David Shaw, Stanford Head Coach
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Shaw is a guy whose name has been linked to several NFL openings in the past, but he appears content coaching at his alma mater. That said, next season could be rough for the Cardinal with Christian McCaffrey moving on to the NFL and no clear offensive identity returning. It might be time to jump to the next level.
Shaw’s offense relies on sound principles that could easily translate to the NFL and he’s shown the ability to adjust between multiple schemes, going both pass and run heavy at different times. He’s 63-17 since taking over as a head coach in 2011, and has had stints coaching both quarterbacks and receivers in the NFL.
The 44-year-old is a San Diego native and coached at the University of San Diego under Jim Harbaugh during the 2006 season. Shaw is an impressive guy, an outstanding interview and could easily win over the brass of an NFL team if given the chance.
Matt Patricia, New England Patriots Defensive Coordinator
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Yes, another Patriots coordinator. Patricia is a ball of energy at 42 years old and is in his fifth season running the team’s defense under Bill Belichick. He’s been with the team in a number of capacities since 2004 and is more than ready for a promotion.
This year, Patricia and Belichick have the Patriots ranked 10th in total yards allowed per game (336.0), 17th in passing yards allowed (248.1 per game), fourth in rushing yards allowed (87.9 per game) and they are first in points allowed (16.6 per game).
Patricia interviewed for the Cleveland Browns’ top position in January of 2016 and is sure to have his name tossed around this season. Given his personality and defensive acumen, he could turn out to be a home run hire for someone.