Mike McCoy hire puts Philip Rivers in the spotlight
Need more proof that the NFL is a quarterback’s league? Just take a listen to the reasons Mike McCoy reportedly landed the San Diego Chargers’ head coaching job.
You’ll hear a lot about how McCoy molded a Tim Tebow-led offense, making the playoffs in 2011, and about how McCoy then reversed field and worked Peyton Manning into a comfort zone for an impressive 2012 regular season coming off his neck injury.
And now, with McCoy headed to San Diego, mission No. 1 is clear: Bring back the Philip Rivers of old.
Perhaps the most damning of all Norv Turner’s wrongs this past season was that his offense, quarterbacked by Rivers, slipped to 20th in the league in points and 31st in yards. The drop in scoring was particularly troublesome — this marked the first season the Chargers had finished outside the top five in that category since 2003, when Drew Brees was slinging passes to David Boston on a 4-12 team.
From a pure talent perspective, the current version of the Chargers probably falls somewhere between that downtrodden bunch and the one that finished 13-3 in 2009.
In other words, McCoy is set to inherit a decent but unspectacular roster. The Chargers certainly do not match up all that well, on paper, with the Broncos, as the two rosters currently stand. McCoy will face a tough challenge to stop the backslide and make the Chargers a playoff contender again quickly.
Any chance of that happening starts on offense — McCoy’s forte. Prior to his four years as the Broncos’ quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator, he spent nine seasons on Carolina’s staff, all on the offensive side of the ball.
He’ll look around the San Diego locker room and see some talented pieces, too. From Rivers to tight end Antonio Gates, running back Ryan Mathews and wide receiver Malcom Floyd, there are enough weapons there (even with an offensive line in need of an upgrade) that San Diego’s offense could make a quick leap back.
That is what the franchise will expect with McCoy at the helm.
Rivers, the centerpiece of all this, may be running out of chances. Now 31 years old, he regressed badly in 2012, with former primary target Vincent Jackson catching passes in Tampa Bay. He also does not have a playoff win since 2008, a stat that stands out even more against Manning’s credentials.
The longtime Charger will have every opportunity to revitalize him game under McCoy’s watch during the 2013 season, but the leash may not be much longer than that.
McCoy, though, offers plenty of hope that Rivers and his offense could bounce back in a big way. Plus, by swiping McCoy from the divisional rival Broncos, San Diego scored a blow in the AFC West race — the second straight year Denver has been damaged by such a move; the Broncos lost then-defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to Oakland after last season.
The Chargers would love it if that factor closed the gap in the division.
They also would be thrilled if McCoy delivers in bringing Rivers back to his old form. This league revolves around quarterbacks, after all, and the Chargers have one that they want badly to rally around again.