The Coast News Group
John Spanos, left, the Chargers’ president of football operations, with General Manager Tom Telesco discuss the firing of head coach Mike McCoy and the possibility of the team leaving San Diego during a press conference on Monday at Chargers Park. Photo by Tony Cagala

Chargers Park goes dark after another losing season

SAN DIEGO — Die-hard Chargers fan Chris Stoefen didn’t know as he tossed the pigskin to his son. The Chargers players seemingly don’t know either.

And, apparently, neither does John Spanos, president of football operations, know anything about whether the team will be moving north to Los Angeles or staying put in San Diego.

“What we know right now, it’s one of two locations,” Spanos said during a press conference at Chargers Park Monday.

So, they’ll all have to wait with the rest of the county, it seems, until the so-called Jan. 15 deadline, when his father and team owner Dean Spanos will have to decide on the future home of the Chargers.

“It’s an announcement that, I don’t know when it’s going to come, but I hope it’s coming soon,” Spanos added.

Apart from that major decision, the organization is in the midst of making another one — finding a new head coach after the firing of Mike McCoy from that position shortly after losing their final game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.

Spanos said the firing of McCoy was done in the best interest of the team based on the last two years’ win-loss record, citing it was the first back-to-back losing season in more than 14 years.

“It’s not something we’re used to, and it’s not something that we plan to be OK with,” he said.

The Chargers finished the season with a 5-11 record, though he and General Manager Tom Telesco both took responsibility on Monday for the poor season, too.

The organization has started the process of hiring a new head coach, but Spanos said the process and the names of candidates wouldn’t be forthcoming.

According to some media reports, the Chargers have sought permission to interview Matt Patricia, the defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots as one of the potential candidates for the head coaching position, however Spanos wouldn’t confirm that.

“I’d love to be able to discuss all of the candidates we’re talking about, but right now though, it’s something that we’re not going to get into,” Spanos said.

The talent pool of potential head coaches is wide open, Telesco said — “previous coaching experience, sure, if not, coordinators, that’s fine, offense, defense, special teams, college coach — our pool is pretty big right now,” he added.

The new head coach would have to wear many hats, Telesco explained, ooking for a teacher, a communicator and a motivator. “And you’re looking for a leader. It’s not just about the X’s and O’s,” Telesco explained.

He believes the team is close to success, based on the young talent in place, the locker room and the culture that Mike (McCoy) had instilled.

“I don’t think we’re far away,” Telesco said. “We obviously still have some work to do. This is a big off-season for us, obviously starting with the head coach. Hiring the head coach is the biggest decision this organization will make.”

Back outside at Chargers Park, Stoefen, wearing a Philip Rivers power blue jersey riddled with autographs from a number of Chargers players, and his son waved to the players as they drove away from the facility.

Though he and his son weren’t waving goodbye, he explained. Instead, they were waving to show their support to the players, he said, no matter what the organization does.

Growing up a Chargers fan, he questioned whether he would follow the team after the organization started talking about moving last year, he said.

“The L.A. Chargers — that just sounds wrong,” Stoefen said. “(But) I think I’ve gone through a process and I’m here to support the players.”

Though he said he would continue to follow the Chargers if they did move up to L.A.

Even though Stoefen feels that the Chargers will be leaving, he expressed enthusiasm for the 2017 season — so long as the players can stay healthy.

By season’s end the Chargers had 21 players on the injured reserve list, which certainly contributed to the team’s dismal record and led to McCoy’s firing.

General Manager Tom Telesco said they have some thoughts on where they can do a better job at keeping players healthy.

“Maybe it’s an anomaly with the amount of players that missed time, but we’re not just going to sit back and rely on that. We’re going to do a good amount of work — already have done some work on that — as far as what we can do to try and minimize some of it,” Telesco said.

With the playoffs set to begin this weekend, Telesco said there wasn’t a specific timeline in place to hire a new coach.

“Obviously, sooner than later we’d like to have it in place, but it’s not something we want to rush,” Telesco said.

All of the coordinators are under contract and none have been let go, Telesco said.

Stoefen wanted to go on record as to say he thought the team’s new head coach would be current offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

Telesco said no matter what the decision is on the organization’s move, the team will hold its practices at Chargers Park for next season.