- Shelley Smith joined ESPN in January 1997 after working part-time as a reporter for the network since 1993. She has covered Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, the BCS championship game, the Stanley Cup playoffs, golf and tennis championships and more.
Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn has been fired after four seasons as head coach.
He signed a one-year extension in the offseason, but went 7-9 with the Chargers this season, losing seven games by one score.
He did make a valiant effort at the end of the season, as the Chargers won their final four games. But it wasn’t enough for owner Dean Spanos, who made the announcement Monday.
“This morning I informed Anthony Lynn that we have made the decision to part ways with him as our head coach. I’m not sure there is another person in this league more respected as a human being than Anthony, and I want to sincerely express my deepest gratitude for his leadership during a time of great change for our organization,” Spanos said in a statement.
“As we all know, this is a results-driven business and, simply put, the results of the past two years have fallen short of expectations. Moving forward, we will redouble our efforts to both build and maintain a championship-caliber program. We have been innovative in many facets of our organization in recent years, and we need to carry that over to our entire operation. Our fans need to know that the Los Angeles Chargers are committed to consistent, winning football. The search for a new head coach will begin immediately.”
Lynn ends his four-year stint with the Chargers with a 33-31 regular-season record and a 1-1 postseason mark. Lynn led the Chargers to a 12-4 record and a wild-card playoff victory in 2018, but was unable to sustain that success, going 5-11 in 2019 and struggling again in 2020.
This season began with a punctured lung for quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who was administered a blind, pain-killing injection at SoFi Stadium that went awry in Week 2, minutes before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In stepped rookie first-round Justin Herbert, who became a superstar almost immediately, starting 15 games and throwing for 4,336 yards and an NFL-rookie-record 31 touchdown passes. He also set the NFL rookie record for completions with 396.
Herbert might have saved Lynn’s job if he would have secured a few more Ws earlier in the season, rather than just coming close. But it was Lynn’s own decisions that drew harsh criticism. His clock and game management were called into play often, including in Herbert’s debut, an overtime loss to the defending Super Bowl champions.
In the first possession of OT, Lynn elected to punt rather than go for it on fourth-and-short. Kansas City drove 39 yards to kick a 52-yard-field goal to win the game 23-20.
It set a tone for the season, with the team unable to finish games. It was also a problem in 2019, when nine of the Chargers’ 11 losses were by one score.
Special teams were a disaster as well, as the Chargers ranked last in the league in the category according to FPI. The team missed 12 kicks, including three extra points and nine field goals, had three punts blocked (two returned for touchdowns) and a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. Their net punting average is the worst in the NFL.
Lynn reassigned special teams coordinator George Stewart on Nov. 25, with Keith Burns taking over. But it made no difference, as the Chargers missed the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 seasons and will be starting over at head coach.
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