So, it finally happened.
The Chargers hired a new general manager — Tom Telesco — and a new head coach, Mike McCoy.
Both are 40. Both are assuming their respective positions for the first time.
It’s definitely a new direction for the Chargers, a deviation from AJ Smith and Norv Turner. It’s a “youth movement” — a lot of emphasis being placed on energy and enthusiasm … two words that wouldn’t necessarily come to mind when talking about the old regime.
Still, there are similarities. Smith wanted to draft and develop … and did, until he seemed to lose the magic touch. Like Turner, McCoy is mostly even-keeled on the field and keeps his emotions in check. If you’re looking for histrionics, you won’t find them in the new Chargers coach.
That’s kinda where the similarities end.
Telesco and McCoy are very engaging, friendly and likable. They welcome questions and they patiently chat with media. Sure, the honeymoon will end soon and both will pull back. But even when they do, there will still be a change in culture.
I like both hires. I’m not a prophet. I can’t see into a crystal ball and tell you all it will work out. But, both Telesco and McCoy seem ambitious, motivated, intelligent … and perhaps most importantly, on the same page as to how the organization will run.
Here are some takeaways from yours truly:
- McCoy commands a room. He isn’t dramatic or loud, but he definitely has a presence. He draws you in. He also seems very no-nonsense. Friendly, but succinct. He knows what he wants.
- There is a big push for cohesiveness. Spanos, Telesco and McCoy all talk about it … Getting the WHOLE organization to work together for the greater good. Seems simple, but it was missing.
- I can’t overemphasize how much “family” has been used by both Telesco and McCoy. Both cite the “family feel” as reasons they chose the Chargers organization.
McCoy, especially, said this:
Family is huge to me. I wanted to go somewhere that you can welcome your family with open arms. Come in here and understand that we all work our tails off. We work a lot of hours as football coaches. Players work extremely hard but understand that there are certain family values also.
And Dean Spanos said this:
We want to create a family feeling around here and maybe that’s been gone the last few years. So you lose it every once in a while and you forget what it was all about and it’s sort of refreshing to think that we’re going to get back to that.
- McCoy was the final candidate the Chargers interviewed for the head coach position. He was lucky number 5. He said he knew within minutes that the “right fit” was with the Chargers; so much so, that everything was fast-tracked and the Chargers cancelled an interview they had with Bruce Arians (Colts offensive coordinator) the following day. Here’s the kicker: Had the Broncos not LOST the playoff game to the Ravens, the Chargers may not have waited for McCoy. They wanted to hire someone this week. Soooo … it’s kinda funny to think that the future of the organization could have been DRASTICALLY different had the Broncos won. Time will tell whether fans will celebrate that loss or not …
- McCoy, who re-tooled the Broncos offense for Orton, Tebow and Manning and who coached Carolina QB Jake Delhomme to a Pro-Bowl and Orton to his best year — (not to mention Tebow to success) — seems to have a knack for figuring out how to get the most out of his players by focusing on what they do best. Building a style around the PLAYERS instead of trying to mold the players to a certain style. He says it right here:
You have to do what your players do best. I’m a firm believer in that. Every play on paper is a touchdown. Every run is a 10-yard gain, if not more. We are going to analyze our football team from this point on and figure out through OTAs, mini camps, training camp, what do our players do best and let them play. I’ve got no problem calling the same play 10 times in a game. If they can’t stop it and Philip can pick them apart running that play, we will run that play time and time again. I think that is our job as a football coach, is to find out what our players do best. The players are going to give us a lot of input. We don’t have all the answers as coaches.
- Telesco said McCoy came to the Chargers “prepared for the job” … The conversation sorta turned into a dialogue on what they would do to improve the team, instead of a formal question-and-answer interview. Says Telesco:
He was one of the most polished first-time head coaching candidates I’ve ever seen … Some people come into an interview prepared for the interview. But he was prepared for the job … He’s a leader of men. He was a quarterback in college. You could kind of see the toughness in his eyes when he talked to us. He’s a teacher who can communicate with all different backgrounds of players and all different levels of experience. He’s a motivator as a coach who can get guys to play their best at critical times. Those are the kinds of things that we were looking for and it just started to come out naturally.
One of the things I liked about McCoy (and I’ll be curious to see how he executes this) is his attention to detail. He said he and Telesco will devise a plan — everything from the training camp schedule, to when they will leave for a road trip, to what the players will eat. I like that. I know it seems like every player should be able to make the decision of what to eat, or how to train, or when to sleep, but, uh … that’s not the case. Some guys can … But some guys can’t. They have never had to. They leave college (where they were the best on their team and got away with bad habits) and they get into the NFL and they just don’t know how to take their LIFESTYLE to the next level. So, I’m hoping McCoy focuses on that. I think details make all the difference.
Time will tell.