AFC West: Dave Wannstedt
San Diego announced it has hired Jason Michael to coach the team’s tight ends. The 32-year-old Michael gets a plum job. He is now in charge of coaching superstar tight end Antonio Gates. Michael was last San Francisco’s quarterback coach. He was on the staff of San Diego coach Norv Turner in Oakland in 2005.
Michael replaces Rob Chudzinski, who is now Carolina’s offensive coordinator. Chudzinski joined the staff of Ron Rivera, who was San Diego’s defensive coordinator.
Meanwhile, it doesn’t appear that Dave Wannstedt will join Turner’s staff. He is expected to go to Buffalo. Turner and Wannstedt are close friends and were on Dallas’ staff in the early 1990s. There was talk Wannstedt could join San Diego’s staff.
In other mid-day AFC West notes, here’s a look how Denver quarterback Kyle Orton could fit in Arizona. There will be takers for Orton and I think this is a real possibility.
Former Green Bay salary cap man Andrew Brandt is joining my bandwagon and he believes there’s a strong chance Nnamdi Asomugha will end up back in Oakland. Welcome aboard, Andrew. I may be wrong and things can change, but I just don’t see Asomugha leaving Oakland.
In a rarity, Broncos general manager Brian Xanders answered fans' questions in the Denver Post. It is another sign of the team’s attempt to reconnect with its fan base.
Bisaccia replaces Steve Crosby. He was fired after a terrible season on special teams in San Diego. The Chargers were ranked No. 1 on offense and defense in the NFL. But they finished 9-7, partly because of several issues on special teams.
Bisaccia has a strong reputation around the league. While his challenge is big, the Chargers did improve on special teams at the end of the season. If the team is healthy in 2011, this unit can turn around rather quickly.
With this job filled, San Diego now has to find a new defensive coordinator to replace Ron Rivera. He was hired as the head coach in Carolina on Tuesday. Among the candidates expected to be considered are former NFL head coach Dave Wannstedt, San Francisco defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and current San Diego assistants Steve Wilks and John Pagano.
Yes, Ron Rivera will be missed by the Chargers. But San Diego has to take pride in the fact that he is on his way to Carolina, becoming the Panthers’ head coach.
It’s like sending a student to an Ivy League school. The Chargers have to be proud of their former defensive coordinator.
After having nine interviews for head-coaching gigs in the past six years, Rivera has finally landed in the big chair. It’s well deserved. Rivera did an outstanding job in San Diego. The Chargers were ranked No.1 in total defense this season.
Rivera helped save the Chargers’ season in 2008. As inside linebackers coach, Rivera replaced Ted Cottrell as the Chargers’ defensive coordinator at midseason. The Chargers caught fire after the move and went on to the playoffs. The unit has been strong ever since.
The Chargers have to be thrilled with the production they got out of Rivera. He led a defense of two playoff teams and his unit was the best in the league, statistically speaking, in his final season there. Rivera did his part in San Diego.
Quiet, intelligent and dedicated, the former Chicago linebacker was known as a detailed-oriented player’s coach. There’s no question San Diego’s players responded well to him and there’s no question he will be missed.
San Diego now must find Rivera’s replacement. Because Rivera had such an impact on the team, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of his defensive assistants will be considered in an attempt to keep continuity.
San Diego, which will continue running a 3-4 defense, could look at secondary coach Steve Wilks, linebacker coach John Pagano and defensive line coach Don Johnson. There has been a lot of talk that San Francisco defensive coordinator Greg Manusky could be a candidate. Dallas has also shown interest in Manusky.
UPDATE: ESPN.com is reporting Dave Wannstedt will be a candidate in San Diego. This makes sense. Wannstedt and San Diego coach Norv Turner are very close and have a long history together. I could see this pairing happening.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
PITTSBURGH -- While the Chargers will surely miss LaDainian Tomlinson on Sunday, they were prepared for this.
The team was operating under the impression Tomlinson likely would not be able to play. The Chargers are hopeful he could return for the AFC Championship Game against Baltimore if they win at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
The Chargers spent all week preparing backup Darren Sproles and No. 3 tailback Michael Bennett to play against the Steelers, who had the No. 2 run defense in the NFL in the regular season.
With a full week of practice, the Chargers feel their active running backs will be able to carry the load, starting with the tiny Sproles who has rushed for 219 yards the past two games combined.
With the visiting teams winning the first three playoff games of the weekend, the Chargers can make it a perfect 4-for-4 with a win Sunday.
Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt is at the game. He is close friends with Chargers coach Norv Turner.