The consensus of national sportswriters is that the Chargers are going to suck this year. Or at least, not be particularly good.
An aggregation of preseason “power rankings” pegs San Diego as the sixth-worst team in the NFL. Vegas is slightly less pessimistic, posting the Bolts as the eighth-longest shot to win the Super Bowl, at 85-1.
For long-suffering Chargers fans, such pessimism fits like a favorite wetsuit. It also might be the healthiest way to view their team.
The Spanos family finally hit the reset button in the offseason, sacking head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith. The new guy, former Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, makes his debut as Chargers head coach this Monday night. While his first campaign is predicted to be a dreaded “rebuilding” year, a mediocre first season has been the stepping stone to bigger and better things for many a coach before him.
Two-time Super Bowl winning coach Jimmy Johnson led the Cowboys to a 1-15 record in his first season. Truculant three-time champion Bill Belichick laid a 5-11 egg in his first season with the Patriots. Newly enshrined Hall of Famer Bill Parcells was 3-12 in his first season as the Giants head man. New Yorkers wanted his head to roll, then he got them two Lombardi trophies. The late Bill Walsh, a true coaching legend, went 2-14 his first time out with the 49ers.
Of course, a middling-to-bad first season might just as easily foreshadow a coaching career that goes nowhere. But the eventual success of others indicates that patience can be a virtue for the championship-starved San Diegan.
Or, let every loss and Philip Rivers turnover drive you crazy. Your choice!
Over the past 25 seasons, the winning Super Bowl coach won an average of 8.8 games in his first year with the team.
Super Bowl Winner :: First Season with Team
2012 John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens :: 11-5, lost AFC Championship (2008)
2011 Tom Coughlin, NY Giants :: 6-10 (2004)
2010 Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers :: 8-8 (2006)
2009 Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints :: 10-6, lost NFC Championship (2006)
2008 Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers :: 10-6, lost NFC Wild Card (2007)
2007 Tom Coughlin, NY Giants :: 6-10 (2004)
2006 Tony Dungy, Indianapolis Colts :: 10-6, lost AFC Wild Card (2002)
2005 Bill Cowher, Pittsburgh Steelers :: 11-5, lost AFC Divisional (1992)
2004 Bill Belichick, New England Patriots :: 5-11 (2000)
2003 Bill Belichick, New England Patriots :: 5-11 (2000)
2002 Jon Gruden, Tampa Bay Buccaneers :: 12-4, won Super Bowl (2002)
2001 Bill Belichick, New England Patriots :: 5-11 (2000)
2000 Brian Billick, Baltimore Ravens :: 8-8 (1999)
1999 Dick Vermeil, St. Louis Rams :: 5-11 (1997)
1998 Mike Shanahan, Denver Broncos :: 8-8 (1995)
1997 Mike Shanahan, Denver Broncos :: 8-8 (1995)
1996 Mike Holmgren, Green Bay Packers :: 9-7 (1992)
1995 Barry Switzer, Dallas Cowboys :: 12-4, lost NFC Championship (1994)
1994 George Seifert, San Francisco 49ers :: 14-2, won Super Bowl (1989)
1993 Jimmy Johnson, Dallas Cowboys :: 1-15 (1989)
1992 Jimmy Johnson, Dallas Cowboys :: 1-15 (1989)
1991 Joe Gibbs, Washington Redskins :: 8-8 (1981)
1990 Bill Parcells, New York Giants 3-12 :: (1983)
1989 George Seifert, San Francisco 49ers :: 14-2, won Super Bowl (1989)
1988 Bill Walsh, San Francisco 49ers :: 2-14 (1979)
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