McCoy, Bradley experience growing pains

October, 18, 2013
10/18/13
10:20
AM ET
SAN DIEGO -- There's no how-to instructional manual for how to be an NFL head coach.

If that were the case, postgame tirades by former head coaches Jim Mora and Dennis Green would not continue to pile up YouTube hits.

Two of the six new head coaching hires who had never served at the NFL level until this season will meet Sunday. Mike McCoy’s San Diego Chargers travel to Florida to take on Gus Bradley’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

[+] EnlargeMike McCoy
Donald Miralle/Getty ImagesMike McCoy emphasizes that all the people around him in San Diego have made his transition to an NFL head coach that much easier.
At 3-3, McCoy has the same record as Chip Kelly in Philadelphia and Rob Chudzinski at Cleveland through six games.

Doug Marrone in Buffalo is a game back at 2-4. Marc Trestman’s Chicago Bears leads the pack at 4-2. And Bradley’s Jaguars bring up the rear at 0-6.

McCoy honed his coaching chops working as an offensive assistant under coach John Fox in Carolina and at Denver, including four seasons as the Broncos offensive coordinator. Like every NFL coach, McCoy adheres to a rigid daily schedule, and is a stickler for details.

McCoy also understands the importance of hiring coaches that make your job easier. His coaching staff includes a former head coach in offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, and defensive coordinator John Pagano, who has been with the Chargers’ organization since 2002.

“The great thing is, I’m surrounded by a bunch of good people,” McCoy said. “That was the most important thing in putting this staff together and bringing certain people in throughout the organization to help out, because when you surround yourself with good people, good things will happen.

“If I don’t have the answer to something, I can quickly ask someone else and they’ll have the answer for me. I’m still learning. I’ve made some mistakes. Whether it is in day-to-day operations around here on the field, there are some things, when I look back, I wish I could change. I’m making notes as we go along. I think the most important thing is the players are buying in to what we’re trying to do here. That’s the key. It’s all about the players.”

Like McCoy, Bradley said earning the trust of his players has been one of his main goals as he tries to turn things around in Jacksonville. Bradley saw up close how the rebuilding process works during his time as defensive coordinator for Pete Carroll in Seattle. Bradley was hired by Jim L. Mora to serve as Seahawks defensive coordinator in 2009, then stayed on when Carroll took over a year later.

Before that, he coached linebackers for Tampa Bay under defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and head coach Jon Gruden.

So Bradley understands how to balance being patient with the progress of his team, along with instilling a sense of urgency in the daily performance of his players and coaching staff.

“In this profession, especially being a head coach, your convictions are going to be challenged,” Bradley said. “I think that going through that with all of those guys, I think it’s given me an opportunity to really have some solid convictions about how we want to go about doing it.

“If you came down and visited us, you would see a flavor of Seattle with Pete [Carroll], a flavor from Jim [Mora], a flavor from John Gruden -- you might feel all of that. But I think the biggest thing for me is I just want to stay true to myself. I’m not Pete Carroll and I’m not Jon Gruden, but I like some of their ideas and how they approach things. As long as it fits my personality, then you will see that flavor here.”

Eric D. Williams

ESPN San Diego Chargers reporter

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