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Anthony Lynn's Top Priorities Entering Offseason
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With the Chargers’ 9-7 campaign complete, Head Coach Anthony Lynn took to the podium Monday for the final time this season.
The head coach admitted he’s already spent the morning grinding for the next season, but for 15 minutes, he fielded questions about the state of the team.
Here are some highlights from what he had to say:
Top Priority this Offseason
Lynn didn’t even try to hide what he feels is the number one priority for the Bolts heading into the offseason. More than anything else, he feels the biggest need is to find a long-term solution at kicker:
“That’s like top priority. It’s to find that young kicker — not a Band-Aid — but a young kicker that can be with this organization for a long time. Get him in here, get him in this building around these guys every day. The problem when you bring in kickers off the streets (is), they’re auditioning. And then they always feel like they’re auditioning. Because the team is watching them on Thursday, and then they go into a game. I just think it’s just so much pressure on those guys. Get somebody in here that these guys can know, trust, and go from there. We’ll do that this offseason.”
Between position coaches and coordinators, staff changes are commonplace for every NFL team. Lynn was asked about Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley and Special Teams Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach George Stewart as some have contracts that expire. The head coach responded by saying his hope is to bring back all three if possible:
“We’d like to keep this together if we can. I know with some guys, the contracts are up. We’re working on that right now. We’re trying to keep this staff together, this nucleus together, because I think we got better as a coaching staff as the season went on. We hit some bumps there early, and midway through the season, but things are a lot smoother right now. I think we understand each other. And the most important thing is, we’re all pulling in the same direction right now.”
Encouraged by Disappointment
While there is a lot to feel good about, Lynn noted how encouraged he was to come into work today and see how upset the entire organization is despite the winning season:
“You come into the next day of work and the whole organization is a little down. That’s kind of encouraging because that just tells me that everyone’s standards and expectations are much higher. We do this for one reason, and that’s to get in the tournament and try to win the prize. So I feel really good about our future here with the Chargers and our ownership with Dean, and A.G. and John, and how committed they are to winning a championship. And the management team I’ve worked with, with Tom Telesco and Ed McGuire. I feel really encouraged about this organization and the things we can accomplish in the future.
I talked about our players last night, how resilient they are and how they’ve bounced back – how they never stopped playing and competing, but I don’t talk about the coaches and the management team enough. They also were very supportive with me being a first-time head coach.”
Number One Lesson Learned
As a first-time head coach, Lynn knew there would be countless lessons learned along the way. Still, he highlighted on why that was most important:
“To stay out of my coaches’ business. I’m used to having my own side of the ball and my own group, but letting coaches coach. Let them do their job and just manage the game, and just oversee and understand the big picture. I had to take a step back because I missed those relationships and those healthy conversations we have throughout the day. I’m sure there are other things once I take a step back and reflect on the season, but immediately that came to my mind.”
Stars like Philip Rivers and Joey Bosa will always get most of the attention. However, when asked, Lynn pointed out a pair of young players he felt took the biggest leap from the start of OTAs to the season finale:
“Austin Ekeler was one of those guys that helped us out. Winning that backup role, and I think he led the league in solo tackles on special teams. Hunter Henry, he was no surprise, but he’s a complete tight end. He’s not just a receiving tight end. In the run game, in the protection game. I think we had the No. 1 protection unit in the league. Tight ends are a big part of that. That’s something that he grew in. I’m sure there are some others, but right now, I just can’t think of those guys. When we’re done with our evaluations, we’ll have a list of those guys, I’m sure.”
Run Game Not Where It Needs to Be
There was plenty to be proud about when it comes to the rushing attack. Most notably, Melvin Gordon posted his first 1,000-yard season and finished seventh in the NFL with 1,105 rushing yards. However, Lynn remains unsatisfied, saying it must improve:
“We diversified some things in the run game, but it’s not where it needs to be. I’ll tell you that right now. It’s not where it needs to be. We started out way too slow in the run game. I think I learned some things, to do some things differently with the personnel we had here vs. what I’ve had in the past. I think it’ll only get better going forward. The run game did pick up, but it’s not where it needs to be right now, in my opinion.”
Mike Williams’ Future
It’s no secret that Mike Williams did not have the type of season all envisioned when he was selected seventh overall out of Clemson. The wideout battled an injury suffered the first day of rookie mini camp and did not make his debut until Week 6 in Oakland. Overall, he finished with 11 catches for 95 yards. Still, the team believes he has a bright future heading into his second season:
“Just getting him on the field helps. The more reps you can get as a rookie, that’s going to help in your development big time. So, like I said, Mike had a slow season. The injuries held him back. The whole season held him back. But, we like Mike. We see Mike in practice and like some things he does. I think Philip is starting to trust Mike more and so, we see that relationship growing and Mike being a big part of this offense.”