It was a breath of fresh air in San Diego, this winter cold front that came through the city. It was sunny, breezy, cool — a picture postcard day.
It felt like that too at the headquarters of the San Diego Chargers. It was an odd sight to see on the 2nd Floor of Chargers Park, the Fortress, just an hour before the team’s press conference, introducing the new head coach.
Standing on a balcony, overlooking the enormous practice field in a moment of silence, there sat the new coach, Mike McCoy and the new General Manager Tom Telesco.
They stood on the same balcony, where for the last four years or so, former General Manager A.J. Smith used to sit, watching practice, perched high atop, looking down on his players, the working media and all the underlings.
The Lord of the Manor, I called him, for his oppressive treatment of one and all. The print media referred to him as the Lord of No Rings.
It is a new day in San Diego, and with the hiring of Mike McCoy, the former Denver Broncos’ offensive coordinator, it is the dawn of a new era, a likely change of culture and the hope for success.
McCoy won the press conference with an intensity not seen around Chargers Park in years. He was passionate, strong in opinions, believable about his convictions and brought with him a resume of accomplishment.
The Chargers country club is officially closed. The quarterback passing school is now over. There will be fire, leadership, accountability and, hopefully, positive results.
Telesco, the freshly-minted 40-year-old general manager, hired a 40-year old coach in McCoy. They have both known success in their NFL careers.
Whereas Telesco helped rebuild the Indianapolis Colts, McCoy helped rebuild quarterbacks. The incoming coach brings a portfolio of accomplishment.
He inherits Philip Rivers, who should know what McCoy has done with all the quarterbacks he worked with.
McCoy helped rebuild the Carolina Panthers, making Steve Beuerlein , a journeyman at best, into a 3,500-yard passer.
He polished Jake Delhomme into a dangerous quarterback, making him into a Pro Bowler and helping scheme the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance.
In Denver, he took career backup Kyle Orton and grew him into a career-best passing season.
Two years ago, in the midst of crisis, McCoy changed the offense in midseason, devised a plan to make Tim Tebow dangerous, game planning to his strengths, running the football and fashioning a playoff drive season.
And this year, linked with the greatness of Peyton Manning, McCoy shared ideas, used the game plan passing tree and helped Denver roll to a winning streak en route to a 13-3 campaign.
Of course, there will be challenges in San Diego. He does not have a Pro Bowl left tackle, does not have a stay-health running back, does not have much talent in the secondary.
But with Rivers, receivers and a young defensive front seven, McCoy has bits and pieces to make this team go.
It is never a perfect science in hiring a young coordinator from another team. For every successful Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh), there is a Josh McDaniels, failing miserably. For every Mike McCarthy (Green Bay), there is a Todd Haley losing control. For every Tom Coughlin (Giants), there is an in-over-your-head Kevin Gilbride.
But for a man who played for George Allen at Long Beach State, learned from John Fox and has had success with every quarterback he has touched, this looks like a positive move forward for the Chargers.
Mike McCoy talked a good game, presented a sound package and now just has to win.
Owner Dean Spanos admitted he no longer knew how to run a football franchise and trusted input from legendary GM Ron Wolfe as a consultant.
That led them to Telesco. Connect the dots to Mike McCoy.
It was quite a sight to see Telesco and McCoy sitting, in quiet solitude on the general manager’s balcony before the press conference began.
It was a good day in San Diego, weather-wise. It might turn out to be a good day football-wise, too.
Indeed – it’s a breath of fresh air in and around Chargers football.