A look at what to expect as the San Diego Chargers begin the Mike McCoy era:
Biggest change to expect: McCoy is a mystery because he became a head coach for the first time at age 40. But from his days as an offensive coordinator and from watching and listening to him, I expect a very straightforward approach. McCoy is a buttoned-up guy who will not be Mr. Rah-Rah. But he is highly detail-oriented and his new players seem to like him. McCoy is known for adjusting to his talent. Remember, as Denver’s offensive coordinator, McCoy scrapped the Broncos’ entire offense at midseason in 2011 to adjust to Tim Tebow at quarterback. The risk resulted in a division title and a playoff victory. One NFL head coach recently told me it was the greatest in-season coaching move he’d ever seen. McCoy said flexibility will be crucial in every facet as he begins this journey with the Chargers; his approach will be dictated by what his players do best. So there will be a learning process in San Diego as the McCoy era gets going.
What success would look like: The Chargers are going to stay the same on defense, where John Pagano remains coordinator. If they are going to make a move from last season's 7-9 record, it will come due to more success on offense. That’s why McCoy was hired -- the Chargers believe he is the man to get the unit on the right track. Norv Turner was a fine offensive mind, but he just couldn’t sustain success as a head coach, and the Chargers definitely needed a new approach. I think the Chargers will be refreshed by a new leader and I expect McCoy to have more success with in-game decisions than Turner.
All about the quarterback: The focal point for McCoy in 2013 will be getting more out of signal-caller Philip Rivers. After playing at a high level, Rivers’ play dipped the past two seasons, with turnovers a particular issue. Not all of Rivers’ problems are on him, however. The talent level on San Diego’s offense has cratered, and the offensive line has been ravaged by injuries. But Rivers does need some fixing. That’s why McCoy was hired: He has had great success with quarterbacks. And the new head coach is on the record as saying Rivers will have a big year in 2013 -- something the Chargers are counting on.
More or fewer wins? This is a difficult team to try to pin down. The talent level is better in some areas than it was during the 7-9 campaign in 2012, but there are still big questions on the offensive line and in the secondary. I think this is the beginning of a good era in San Diego, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chargers stay in the seven- or eight-win range.