LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Chargers hired Anthony Lynn as their head coach Friday night, one day after announcing their relocation to Los Angeles.
The 48-year-old Lynn is a respected veteran assistant who spent the last two seasons with the Buffalo Bills. He moved up during this season from running backs coach to offensive coordinator to interim head coach, presiding over the Bills’ final game after Rex Ryan was fired.
Lynn attracted extensive interest on the NFL job market, and the Chargers took a break from planning their move out of San Diego to secure a deal with him. Lynn becomes the first black coach in franchise history.
“This is really a dream come true,” Lynn said in a statement. “I want all of our fans to know that we’re going to start by putting together a great staff, and we’re going to put together a team with the heart and will of a champion. I know there’s a lot of work to be done, and I’m going to give everything I have to the Chargers, the Spanos family and the City of Los Angeles.”
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Lynn replaces Mike McCoy, who was fired on Jan. 1 after going 27-37 in four seasons.
The coaching change coincided with the franchise upheaval caused by owner Dean Spanos’ decision to leave San Diego after 56 years to move two hours north, where the Chargers will play next season at the 30,000-seat StubHub Center in Carson before sharing the Los Angeles Rams’ palatial Inglewood stadium in 2019.
Along with hiring a coaching staff and implementing a new philosophy on both sides of the ball, Lynn will have to do much of his work in likely temporary surroundings until the Chargers complete their relocation. Their training complex is expected to be in the Orange County city of Costa Mesa.
“Anthony has a commanding presence and brings a no-nonsense approach,” Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. “He is going to be a great leader, and we’re confident he’s going to lead the Chargers to great success that our fans have come to expect out of this organization.”
Lynn inherits a Chargers team that won only nine games over the past two seasons following 11 consecutive years in which they made six playoff appearances and never won fewer than seven games. McCoy’s Chargers repeatedly struggled in late-game situations despite a fairly talented roster, and San Diego missed the playoffs this year for the sixth time in seven seasons.
Ryan promoted Lynn to offensive coordinator in mid-September after firing Greg Roman. After Ryan was fired, Lynn ran the team for a loss to the New York Jets.
Lynn helped to build a powerful running game in Buffalo, and he will have many ingredients for another ground-and-pound unit in Los Angeles. The Chargers are taking along talented running back Melvin Gordon, who rushed for 997 yards and scored 12 touchdowns last season, behind an offensive line that struggled with injuries this season.
Lynn was a running back in the NFL for seven seasons despite going undrafted out of college, and he was with the Denver Broncos when they won consecutive Super Bowls in 1998 and 1999. He is also the first former Texas Tech player to become an NFL head coach.
Lynn was a running backs coach for the previous 13 seasons, including the past eight spent working under Ryan with the Bills and Jets. Lynn also held the title of assistant head coach with the Jets in 2014, his sixth season in New York.
He also coached running backs under Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville, Bill Parcells in Dallas, Romeo Crennel in Cleveland.
“He’s had a number of great coaching influences in his life,” said John Spanos, the Chargers’ president of football operations. “As a former player who won two Super Bowls, Anthony knows firsthand what championship pedigree is all about. We couldn’t be more excited to have him lead our franchise into this exciting new era of Chargers football.”
AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson in San Diego contributed to this report.
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