Chargers Are Off to See the Whisard

Ken Whisenhunt is on the radar to re-join the Bolts as Offensive Coordinator

The Chargers kept, then extended head coach Mike McCoy after their 4-12 season. When addressing the media McCoy showed a few positive signs, giving hints he might be able to turn things around. The biggest one is he knows he needs more help.

“I don’t have all the answers,” said McCoy. “That’s why you surround yourself with good people. If I have a weakness I’m going to try to hire someone to help me.”

The place to start is at offensive coordinator. Frank Reich was let go after two miserable seasons in charge of the unit that seemed to simply disappear at times. A lot of focus was put on his in-game play calling but people in the Chargers organization think that’s not as big an issue as most of us think.

“To me the whole play calling is very over-rated,” said General Manager Tom Telesco. “It really is. It’s impossible for anybody, including myself, to get up there and make judgments on what plays should be called.”

Then where does the problem live?

“To me it’s more game-planning and I think later in the year we saw some changes,” said Telesco, specifically addressing the Chargers’ rushing attack. “We saw some more two tight end sets, we saw some more max protection with two tight ends staying in; we ran more power pulling guards and getting angles on people.”

According to Telesco the offensive line coach basically becomes the de-facto running game coordinator. That’s likely why Joe D’Alessandris was one of six assistant coaches to be let go. The Bolts ranked dead last in the NFL in yards per carry in 2015. They were next-to-last in 2014. But in 2013, the first year Coach D was with the club, the Chargers were 21st in the league in yards per rush.

Ryan Mathews was able to stay healthy for just about the entire season and Nick Hardwick and Jeromey Clary were still on the line then but the biggest difference is the man who was the offensive coordinator: Ken Whisenhunt.

Coach Whis handled the game-planning that year and his career resume shows a knack for getting his teams off to great starts.

Let’s go back to 2014 and peruse the last 32 games the Bolts have played to take a look at their first half point totals, and how the game ended:

Back in 2013, when McCoy had Whisenhunt helping him, the Chargers scored at least 10 points in the first half in 13 out of 16 games. They went 9-4 in those games (9-7 overall) and ended up in the playoffs.

In 2014, when Reich took over, they scored at least 10 points in the first half just nine times and went 7-2 (9-7 overall).

In 2015 they reached double digits by the break in just eight games (it would have been nine if Jason Verrett had not returned an interception for a touchdown against the Bears) and lost every single one of them. It’s no secret that bad starts can kill a football team and that sure seems to happening with the Chargers.

The proof here is in the numbers and the numbers say, as long as Mike McCoy is in charge, the Bolts need a guy like Ken Whisenhunt running the offense to be successful. The good news is the Chargers will actually consider bringing Whis back.

“He’s certainly somebody we’ll be looking at,” said Telesco.

Another option that’s been kicked around is having McCoy handle head coaching duties and call the offensive plays, something Norv Turner did during his tenure in San Diego.

“I’m not opposed to it,” said Telesco. “It would be up to Mike. I know he’s very good at it and it’s probably something he’ll maybe think about in the off-season.”

McCoy became a head coaching candidate because of his acumen as an offensive play caller (or game-planner) but given his less-than-stellar in-game decision-making history and inability to manage the clock effectively it’s probably not a great idea to put even more responsibilities on his plate.

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