SAN DIEGO — It’s been a rapid succession of firsts for the Chargers organization since the end of the 2012 season, and for their two newest hires. For general manager Tom Telesco, it was his first hiring ever of a head coach, and for first-time head coach Mike McCoy, it was his first time hiring an offensive coordinator.
But it won’t be the first time that former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt will fill in the role as offensive coordinator.
Whisenhunt, who was the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator for three years and had won a Super Bowl ring with the team before being released by the Cardinals this season, was brought in to fill the coordinator position for the Chargers Thursday afternoon.
“I’m excited to be here with this organization,” Whisenhunt said. “I know I’ve admired it from the number of times that I’ve played it as a coach and as a player. It’s really an honor to be a part of it.”
Only six days ago, Whisenhunt was interviewing with the Chargers for the head coaching job, only to be brought in as coordinator was something, “definitely different,” he said.
“It’s really kind of a unique opportunity,” Whisenhunt said. “And some of the other times that I’ve interviewed, it’s always been in the position of offensive coordinator, so if you don’t get the job you’re obligated to go back to the team that you were with, and you’re actually looking forward to that.
“But since I didn’t really have a team anymore, then I think you have the chance to look at the opportunities that were there.”
The job, he added, really had a good feel. “The feel I got from Mr. (Dean) Spanos and John (Spanos) and from Tom (Telesco) in talking with them about the direction of the organization. I know Mike. I’ve been impressed with Coach McCoy for a number of years…It’s a great opportunity, I think, to come in here and get back to coaching football.”
The former head coach thought back to when he got his first head coaching job in 2007. Was there anything that he knows now that he wished he’d known then? “There’s a lot of those things,” he said as a smile crept across his face. “I think as you go, as you grow, as you learn, all of that helps make you a better coach. That’s what helps make you a better coach, and I think that’s what’s important.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be around some outstanding football coaches and I’ve tried to learn from them and hopefully, it makes you better.”
And as to whether he would serve as an advisor to first timer McCoy with any of those things he said that Mike’s been successful in a number of different arenas and will do a great job as coach. “And that’s a big piece of why I’m here, because I feel good about Mike as a head coach,” he said. “Any questions that he has, I’m sure, our relationship is such that he’ll feel comfortable with that,” he said.
As for returning to his role as a play caller, McCoy said he’s calling “nothing but touchdowns.”
“The way I like to say it,” Whisenhunt said, “is the good ones are the ones I’m calling, and the bad ones are the ones that Mike came in and said, ‘We’re running these plays….’
“Play calling to me is not one person. It’s about a staff working together and making decisions on what you want to do and having a good plan. And that’s what I feel most comfortable about,” Whisenhunt said.
When asked whether there was a difference going from being a head coach to being an offensive coordinator, Whisenhunt said, “Yeah, there’s a lot of things that are a little bit different.”
On Friday, McCoy announced that John Pagano would remain defensive coordinator and would also be keeping defensive line coach Don Johnson, linebackers coach Joe Barry and assistant linebackers coach Greg Williams.