Josh McDaniels (Offensive Coordinator, New England Patriots)
McDaniels has prior experience as an NFL head coach, having led the Denver Broncos in 2009 and part of 2010 before being fired by the team amid a videotaping scandal (yes, he seems to be a Patriots product through and through). He has also served under the tutelage of some of the game’s all-time great minds, having been an assistant under both Bill Belichick and Nick Saban during his career. McDaniels is universally considered by league executives to have outgrown his current offensive coordinator position, and has developed a reputation for getting the most out of his players by helping keep the Patriots’ offense productive despite a bevy of moving parts in recent years (a good fit for the Chargers’ never-ending durability woes). He seems to be a perfect candidate, except for one rather obvious flaw: if he was really this good, why has he struggled to actually land a head coaching job for so long?
Matt Patricia (Defensive Coordinator, New England Patriots)
Because of the hype surrounding McDaniels, Patricia is seen as more of an afterthought when it comes to coaching prospects in the New England pipeline. However, that doesn’t mean his talent is any less than that of McDaniels. The aeronautical engineering – yes, rocket science – major from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has played a role in maintaining the Patriots’ place as a consistently good defense since 2006. Yes, his thick beard goes against the corporate look teams often search for in coaching candidates. And yes (more importantly), he lacks much in the way of an offensive pedigree, meaning hiring him would likely require additional sideline acquisitions and a good degree of patience in allowing him to learn the ropes. In spite of these drawbacks, however, there is little doubt Patricia is extremely intelligent and could team well with San Diego’s current defensive coordinator, John Pagano, to craft a dominant Chargers’ defense for many years to come.
John Pagano (Defensive Coordinator, San Diego Chargers)
Speaking of Pagano, his name has also been batted around as a possible candidate for the position. He’s been with the team since the Schottenheimer days, and there is certainly something to be said for considering an in-house replacement for McCoy. Considering the shortcomings of the current staff, however, it would seem to be a poor decision to maintain their regime by promoting Pagano, and the team would likely be better off pursuing candidates that could meld with Pagano’s defensive brains than simply picking Pagano himself to lead the Chargers in 2017.
Kyle Shanahan (Offensive Coordinator, Atlanta Falcons)
The son of former Broncos coach and Super Bowl champ Mike Shanahan, Kyle has begun to craft a name for himself as one of the top offensive NFL minds. His work in crafting powerful and well-rounded offensive attacks in Washington, Cleveland (sort of), and especially Atlanta of late should make him more than deserving of an interview with the Bolts’ front office. At 37, Shanahan is also younger than many other head coaching candidates, a plus in terms of connecting with a roster as green as San Diego’s will soon be. He has been connected to the Denver job recently vacated by a retiring Gary Kubiak, meaning there could be some stiff competition for his sideline services in 2017.
Jim Schwartz (Defensive Coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles)
Schwartz lacks much in the way of previous NFL head coaching success, having brought the Detroit Lions to a 29-51 record during his stint with them from 2009-2013, while his current position as defensive coordinator for the Eagles has resulted in nothing more than a middle-of-the-road performance from the Philly D. That being said, Schwartz still carries a reputation as one of the brighter defensive minds in the game. More than that, a word that is frequently used to describe him is “abrasive,” an adjective that would be ill-fitting for most job descriptions, but fits very well (in my opinion, at least) on the sidelines on Sundays.
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Noah is a current undergraduate at the University of San Diego. In addition to his classes as a Business Economics student, Noah serves as the scouting director for the nationally-ranked USD baseball team and as an NFL correspondent with The Mighty 1090. You can follow him on Twitter @thebackseatlamp