On Monday evening, the Chargers announced that they fired offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. It came as a bit of a surprise, with the team coming off a 17-16 victory over the Chicago Bears.
But it was a move that head coach Anthony Lynn felt was coming.
“I just felt like it was time,” explained the third-year head coach. “I mean, if I was eventually going to do it, why not just do it right now? We have eight weeks left in this season and we still have everything in front of us that we want. I feel like this move would be smoother for us.”
In years past, their offense was one of the most productive in the NFL, but this season it seems like the switch hasn’t flipped. This season the Bolts offense is averaging 69.5 rushing yards per game (29th in the NFL) and are only scoring 19.6 points a game (23rd in the NFL).
“I think anytime something like that happens, you’re disappointed as a player that you didn’t play better first and foremost,” said quarterback Philip Rivers. “I have a lot of respect for Whiz and had some great memories. There were a handful of games where we should have scored more points and won games. Certainly, I wish I had played a little better.”
The Bolts will now turn to quarterback’s coach Shane Steichen, who was been with the organization since 2014. He played quarterback in college at UNLV and is the school’s 15th all-time leading passer. Steichen has worked his way up the ladder and now has an opportunity to try to jumpstart the offense.
Steichen will be calling the offense, but it will take a team effort to get this done. Offensive line coach Pat Meyer will be the run game coordinator, which means he will be calling run plays. Lynn said that he will also assist his rookie play caller, but he doesn’t want him to feel like big brother is watching him.
“I may have to be a little more involved early on,” Lynn said. “But as soon as Shane takes it and runs with it, it’s going to be his baby. I just want to make sure he’s okay and comfortable and just assist him with...what he may need.”
Steichen has worked closely with Rivers for the last three seasons. This move could also help the 16-year veteran quarterback get back on track and maybe turn the season around.
“I think Shane and I are very much on the same page,” said Rivers. “We talk all the time. Obviously, the ins and outs of everything with him being our position coach, we very much think alike. It’ll be a different voice in the helmet, obviously, but the way we communicate, I don’t see there being any problem at all.”
The firing of an offensive coordinator during the season could seem like déjà vu to Lynn. In 2016, when he was a running backs coach for the Buffalo Bills, Greg Roman was fired and Lynn was promoted to offensive coordinator. On Wednesday, the head coach said he offered his young play caller some advice.
“Cut back, simplify and let these young men play fast and physical, and know what the hell they’re doing,” explained Lynn. “That’s the first thing I did as a play-caller and I think we won four-straight games. We definitely want to simplify and allow our players to play faster. It’s our job as coaches to figure out ways to slow this game down.”
Steichen will have a big task this weekend when his offense has to face the Green Packers defense that loves taking the ball away and putting pressure on the quarterback.
Nuts N’ Bolts
•Lynn told the media that safety Derwin James, who is eligible to come off IR, is on schedule, but is not ready to practice yet.
• Injury report, Did not practice: DT Cortez Broughton (mono), DT Justin Jones (shoulder), NT Brandon Mebane (knee). Limited: WR Keenan Allen (hamstring), WR Geremy Davis (hamstring), T Russell Okung (calf), S Roderic Teamer (groin).