COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers have nine draft picks, healthy salary-cap space and a star quarterback in waiting in phenom Justin Herbert. Along with selecting Herbert, general manager Tom Telesco is responsible for drafting blue-chippers such as receiver Keenan Allen, defensive end Joey Bosa and linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr.
So, who wouldn't want this head coaching job?
Telesco explained Wednesday that leadership means everything and while he praised the character of the fired Anthony Lynn, he simply "didn’t win enough games." And that is, after all, what it's all about.
Lynn was 12-20 over the past two seasons, including 7-9 in 2020. He was hired by the Chargers in 2017 and led them to the playoffs in 2018, defeating Baltimore in the wild-card round before losing to New England in the divisional round.
Telesco has spent eight seasons with the Chargers, with the Bolts compiling a 60-68 record in the regular season and 2-2 in the playoffs. He admits that's not good enough, not for a team with a dream lineup and a one-year-old, $5 billion stadium in a city near the beach.
Telesco said the final decision belongs to owner Dean Spanos and that it might not happen until after the Super Bowl. Interviews have begun, he said, without saying who or when. As for the guessing game, Telesco said, "You've all got it right. Nobody is wrong."
A list of who is being considered, in alphabetical order:
Eric Bienemy, offensive coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs: Bienemy was drafted by the Chargers in the second round in 1991. After nine seasons in the NFL, Bienemy became a running backs coach at Colorado, UCLA, and the Minnesota Vikings before landing with the Chiefs, rising to become offensive coordinator and now a highly-pursued head coaching candidate. Bienemy helped quarterback Patrick Mahomes become the league's MVP in 2018 after throwing for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns, then the Super Bowl MVP last season. The Chargers were one of several teams to interview him this week.
Joe Brady, offensive coordinator, Carolina Panthers: A first-year NFL coordinator, Brady helped LSU to a national championship in 2019, combining with Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow to form a powerful attack. Telesco said that Brady's youth, and relative lack of NFL experience, is not prohibitive, noting that "six or seven coaches in the playoffs" had no NFL experience.
Brian Daboll, offensive coordinator, Buffalo Bills: Daboll has turned QB Josh Allen into a superstar while helping the Bills to a 13-3 mark. A former assistant to Nick Saban at Alabama, Daboll has become an increasingly attractive candidate. The Chargers have requested an interview, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.
Matt Eberflus, defensive coordinator, Indianapolis Colts: Eberflus, who has his work cut out for him this weekend in a wild-card games vs. Daboll and the Bills, has helped craft one of the league's top defenses. He said he will deal with interview requests when the playoffs are over, and the Chargers have requested one, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Jason Garrett, offensive coordinator, New York Giants: Garrett has plenty of head-coaching experience, spending 9½ seasons as the head coach of the Cowboys, sporting an 85-67 regular-season record while winning three NFC East titles. He just completed his first season as offensive coordinator with the Giants. Rapoport has reported that the Chargers have requested an interview.
Urban Meyer, former Ohio State Buckeyes head coach: Meyer is a long shot, but his championships in college (two at Florida, one at Ohio State) would play over well in the NFL and the Los Angeles market, along with his reputation as an offensive guru. He is said to be considering other options, but don't count Telesco and the Spanos family out. He is reportedly requesting $12 million a year, which might make him too rich for the Chargers' blood.
Bill O'Brien, former Houston Texans head coach: O'Brien coached the Texans for nearly seven seasons and worked well with QB Deshaun Watson. He won four division titles, which gives him an edge over the other candidates on this list, but the way his time in Houston ended wasn't great.
Robert Saleh, defensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers: Saleh is regarded as a top defensive mind, helping the Niners to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl LIV berth in 2019 thanks to an aggressive, attacking unit. He is known for his passion and has received interest throughout the league. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Chargers have requested to interview Saleh.
Arthur Smith, offensive coordinator, Tennessee Titans: Like Saleh, Smith is in high demand, being courted by six teams. He has been on the Titans' staff for 10 years and is in his second year as offensive coordinator. A former tight ends coach, Smith continues to get great things from quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry, making him an offensive guru the Chargers covet. The Chargers plan to ask permission to interview Smith, according to Schefter.
Brandon Staley, defensive coordinator, Los Angeles Rams: In his first year as coordinator, Staley has overseen one of the best defensive units in the league, finishing 2020 first in yards per game and points per game allowed. He has made a meteoric rise in the coaching ranks, as he was at Division III John Carroll in 2016. He gained NFL experience with the Bears and Broncos from 2017-19 before jumping to the Rams. The Chargers have requested an interview with Staley, according to The Athletic's Jordan Rodrigue.