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Chargers President John Spanos Seeks to Forge New Direction Following the Dismissal of Coach Staley and GM Telesco

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COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — The Spanos family has gone with first-time head coaches the last three times the Los Angeles Chargers have had an opening.

After last week’s firings of Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco, John Spanos acknowledged experience might be be a bigger factor this time.

“I don’t think it can be the end-all, but absolutely it will factor. That’s an added bonus if someone does have previous head coach experience,” Spanos, the team’s president of football operations and the son of owner Dean Spanos, said Monday.

Staley and Telesco were dismissed Friday morning after the Chargers were pummeled 63-21 the previous night by the Las Vegas Raiders.

Not only did Los Angeles suffer its fifth loss in the last six games to fall to 5-9, but it was the most points allowed in franchise history and the 42-point margin was the third-worst.

Staley went 24-25 in nearly three seasons. Under Telesco, the general manager since 2013, the Chargers went 86-95 with three playoff appearances.

Before Staley, Anthony Lynn and Mike McCoy also did not have previous experience as college or NFL head coaches. Since the Spanos family bought the Chargers in 1984, their most successful hires have been coaches who had previously done the job.

Bobby Ross led Georgia Tech to a split national championship in 1990 before coming to the Bolts in 1992. Marty Schottenheimer and Norv Turner had previous NFL stints before leading the Chargers.

The Chargers have not won an AFC West title since 2009 and haven’t had three straight winning seasons since they had four in a row from 2004-07.

“My opinion is everything starts with ownership. Ultimately, we’re responsible for everything. What we’ve been doing has not been good enough,” Spanos said.

With three games remaining, Giff Smith is the interim coach and JoJo Wooden is interim general manager. It was the first time since 1998 that the Chargers made an in-season coaching move.

Spanos said naming Smith, the outside linebackers coach, over offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley was not an indictment of either one.

“I do think we have a lot of quality coaches here, but Giff is someone that I’ve known and worked with a long time. I’ve seen him coach multiple positions. I’ve seen the leader he is, and I think he’s the best man right now to lead the team,” Spanos said.

Wooden, the Chargers’ director of player personnel, will continue overseeing the pro and college scouting departments while taking on GM duties. Barring a late turnaround, the Chargers will have a top 10 pick for the fourth time in nine drafts.

There were some who wondered if Staley would be fired after the Chargers blew a 27-point, second-quarter lead and lost at Jacksonville 31-30 in wild-card round of last season’s playoffs. Staley was criticized before that game for playing his starters in a meaningless regular-season finale at Denver, where wide receiver Mike Williams suffered a back injury.

“As disappointing as that (playoff) game was, I looked at the whole body of work and where we were. Despite the way it ended, the trajectory at that point was still going up,” Spanos said. “So I didn’t feel a change then was in the best interest of the team.”

Spanos also noted that during this season, he didn’t ask Staley to give up play-calling duties on defense, despite that unit being ranked near the bottom of the league.

The only definitive trait Spanos gave that he is looking for in a new coach is leadership ability. The Chargers have a franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert, but that would not restrict them to looking at candidates with primarily an offensive background.

As far as general manager candidates, Spanos said he would cast a wide net, considering candidates with different backgrounds and primary areas of experience.

The Chargers, along with the Raiders and Panthers, might be forced into a slower process with this hiring cycle. Starting this upcoming offseason, teams wanting to interview coaches employed with other teams can’t conduct in-person interviews until after the divisional round of the playoffs.

In prior years, it used to be a week earlier, after the wild-card round. Virtual interviews can still take place.

“I think these three weeks will be advantageous for us to strategize and then make sure we’re ready,” Spanos said.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

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