The Los Angeles Chargers today announced the elevation of Derrick Ansley to Defensive Coordinator, as well as the additions of Linebackers Coach Jeff Howard, Defensive Quality Control Robert Muschamp and Quarterbacks Coach Doug Nussmeier to the coaching staff. The club also announced the promotion of Tom Donatell to Passing Game Coordinator/Secondary.
Ansley enters his third season with the Chargers in 2023, his first in the role of Defensive Coordinator. Over the last two seasons directing the secondary, Ansley's group has been prominent in the defense's ability to limit the passing attack of opposing offenses, ranking fourth in the AFC in passing defense since the start of the 2021 season. Last year, the defense finished the season as one of the NFL's best down the stretch, as the unit ranked third in scoring defense, third in total defense and fourth in passing defense over the final five weeks, holding opponents to just 13.3 first downs per game – tops in the league – and 23.3 third-down percentage in that span.
Prior to joining Los Angeles' staff in 2021, Ansley spent two seasons as the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at the University of Tennessee. In his first season coordinating the Volunteers' defense (2019), the unit allowed its fewest yards per game in a decade and improved by more than 30 passing yards allowed per game. A former collegiate safety, Ansley tutored the defensive backs at the University of Alabama from 2016-17, helping the Crimson Tide rank No. 1 in the nation in total defense and scoring defense both seasons. A native of Tallassee, Ala., Ansley started 40-straight games at safety for Troy University from 2001-04, finishing his career second all-time in program history with 19 career interceptions.
Howard brings 10 years of NFL coaching experience to Los Angeles, most recently serving as the pass game coordinator/defensive backs coach for the Cleveland Browns. Over the last three seasons, Howard's secondary helped Cleveland rank tied for second in the NFL with 11 total red zone takeaways, tying for the most by any AFC team, as the unit finished fifth in the league in passing defense each of the last two seasons.
Prior to Cleveland, Howard spent seven seasons as an assistant in Minnesota (2013-19). The former All-American linebacker at Eastern New Mexico helped tutor the Vikings' linebackers from 2016-17, a span in which linebacker Anthony Barr earned Pro Bowl recognition each of their two seasons together. A native of Portales, N.M., Howard entered the coaching ranks at the high school level, contributing four years on the defensive coaching staff at Odessa Permian High School in Odessa, Texas.
Muschamp joins the Chargers' staff after spending the last two seasons with the University of Georgia, helping the Bulldogs win back-to-back College Football Playoff National Championships in a quality control — defense capacity. Prior to his tenure in Athens, Ga., Muschamp served as a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee from 2019-20, working primarily with the defense.
A native of Rome, Ga., Muschamp played tight end at Auburn from 2015-18, helping the Tigers earn a share of the SEC Western Division title in 2017 and appear in a bowl game following each of his four seasons. After joining the program as a walk-on in 2015, Muschamp earned a scholarship in advance of his senior season in 2018, capping his collegiate career with a win in the Music City Bowl.
Nussmeier adds 22 years of coaching experience, along with five seasons playing at the professional level, to Los Angeles' coaching staff. Having spent the last three seasons as quarterbacks coach for the Dallas Cowboys, Nussmeier's work with Dak Prescott and the quarterback group helped Dallas' offense rank among the league's best in 2021, leading the NFL in total offense (407.0 net yards per game) and scoring offense (31.2 points per game), as Prescott ranked third in the NFL with a passer rating of 104.2. Over the last three seasons, five different signal-callers registered a start under center for the Cowboys, as the offensive unit averaged 378.0 total net yards per game during the three-year stretch, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL.
Prior to his time in Dallas, Nussmeier coached quarterbacks and helped lead offenses across the football landscape. After starting his coaching journey as a quarterbacks coach in the Canadian Football League, he spent 13 seasons coaching at the collegiate level. As the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Alabama in 2012, Nussmeier's guidance helped propel QB A.J. McCarron to set the then-program-record with 26 touchdown passes on the season, adding four passing scores in the Crimson Tide's victory over Notre Dame in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game.
After being selected in the fourth round of the 1994 NFL Draft by New Orleans, Nussmeier went on to play four seasons for the Saints and one season with the Indianapolis Colts, before heading to British Columbia (Canada) in 2000 and helping lead the CFL's BC Lions to a Grey Cup Championship. A native of Portland, Ore., Nussmeier finished his career as Idaho's all-time leading passer with 10,824 career passing yards, winning the Walter Payton Award in 1993 after throwing for a program-record 33 touchdown passes and leading the Vandals to a national semifinal berth.
Donatell advances into the role of Passing Game Coordinator/Secondary for the Chargers in 2023. Over the last two seasons as the team's assistant secondary coach, Donatell prominently aided in the development of up-and-coming secondary players, while also helping All-Pro Derwin James Jr., earn Pro Bowl honors following both seasons. Despite missing three games in 2022, James' 115 total tackles ranked fifth in the NFL among all defensive backs and second on the Bolts' defense, earning AFC Defensive Player of the Month for his efforts last November after becoming the first defensive back in over 30 years to total 30 tackles, multiple sacks, an interception and a forced fumble in a single November.
The former collegiate linebacker-turned-safety entered the coaching ranks as a graduate assistant as the University of South Florida (2013-14), then UCLA (2015-16), before spending four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks in a quality control/defense capacity (2017-20). In his four years with Seattle, the defensive unit produced a total of 10 Pro Bowl selections. Donatell capped his playing career at Iowa (2008-12) with eight starts at strong safety for the Hawkeyes as senior in 2012
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