The San Diego Chargers are looking for new leadership, and there are several names floating around who would bring a significant amount of excitement to Southern California.
As Marc Sessler of NFL.com reported, Turner and general manager A.J. Smith did not survive Black Monday, and his six-season stint in San Diego is over. The Chargers noted via Twitter that they will replace Smith before Turner, but there is no shortage of viable head-coaching candidates currently available:
The goal of the interview process is to hire a GM first, and then a head coach.— San Diego Chargers (@chargers) December 31, 2012
There are a few established professional coaches currently working as broadcasters, talented college coaches proving they are ready for a jump to the next level, recently fired coaches ready to start a new journey and a host of assistants who are capable of excelling in an elevated role.
Here are the coaches who should be on the top of San Diego’s list.
Jon Gruden, ESPN Analyst
Gruden’s name is popping up in connection with just about any head-coaching search in either college or professional football. This is unsurprising given his track record, and he would be an ideal choice for the Chargers.
NFL.com’s Kareem Copeland quoted former executive and current NFL Network Analyst Michael Lombardi discussing San Diego’s priorities for Turner’s replacements. Lombardi said, “It's going to have to be somebody who understands developing Philip Rivers."
This gives Gruden an edge over Bill Cowher, who is the other Super Bowl-winning coach constantly rumored to be moving from the broadcasting booth back to the sidelines.
Cowher is a defensive-minded coach, whereas Gruden is an offensive guru. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers boss’ incredible knowledge of the West Coast offense should make him the Chargers’ top target.
Chip Kelly, Oregon Head Coach
Copeland’s article also notes that Kelly is one of the hottest names in NFL circles right now, and the Oregon head coach would also fulfill the Chargers’ wish to hire an offensive innovator.
Kelly’s fast-paced offense has helped Oregon win 10 games or more in each of his four seasons at the helm. His tenure has also brought a Rose Bowl victory to the program and includes a trip to the National Championship Game in 2010.
With an extremely impressive résumé and the right skill set, Kelly will be considered for the San Diego coaching vacancy.
However, hiring top college coaches is always a risky decision, and it is impossible for an NFL team to know if it is hiring the next Jim Harbaugh, or the next Bobby Petrino.
Andy Reid, Former Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach
Reid’s disappointing end in Philadelphia does not erase the incredible success he had in his 14-year stint. The recently fired Eagles coach is another offensive genius that the Chargers should seriously consider.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported that Reid is interested in a move to San Diego. But ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the feelings currently are not mutual, and Reid is not a candidate for the Chargers job.
But San Diego would be wise to reconsider its position. Reid was the longest-tenured head coach until today because of his exceptional ability to develop quarterbacks. He is also the winningest coach in Eagles history.
He has better credentials for the job than any candidate except Gruden.
Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts Offensive Coordinator
After the Colts’ extremely surprising success this season, Arians will be one of the most prized targets among teams searching for a new head coach.
Who should the Chargers hire?
Arians took over head coaching duties on an interim basis when Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year. He coached the team from Week 4 until Pagano returned to the sidelines this past weekend, and he led the team to a 9-3 record during this stretch.
The Colts were 2-14 a season ago, and although Andrew Luck’s arrival was a massive boost, Arians’ ability to lead the team to so many victories is monumentally impressive.
With an offensive background and a proven ability to excel in a head coaching role, Arians must be another serious candidate for the Chargers.