There’s a signature moment early in a head coach’s career that determines what kind of coach he’s going to be.
Is he going to be conservative and the kind of coach that always comes up short, never taking chances like so many modern-day coaches? Or will he be a true leader, uninfluenced by tradition and the potential consequences of decisions he makes in the heat of battle.
As quiet and reserved as LA Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn is, his coaching acumen and guts spoke loudly on Thursday night. Going forward, the city of Los Angeles, the Chargers franchise and quarterback Philip Rivers knows that they have a coach who will play to win.
There was no better time for Lynn to establish himself as a go-getter. The Chargers have been an afterthought all season, despite their 11-3 record, which after Thursday night’s thrilling 29-28 victory over the Chiefs ties them atop the division with Andy Reid’s Super Bowl favorites.
Down two touchdowns to the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night, with just 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Los Angeles Chargers coach Lynn didn’t have much control over the situation. He could only hope his defense made a few stops and that his QB, Philip Rivers, could do what he’s done so many times throughout his 15-year career and give the Chargers a chance to win.
Far too many times, Rivers has given the Chargers a Hall of Fame performance, only to fall victim to the vulnerability of his surrounding parts and a head coach whose mentality wasn’t that of a closer. When the Chargers got the ball back down two, Rivers went 12 of 18 passes for 132 yards and threw a TD pass to Mike Williams, the second of two fourth-quarter scores.
Rivers did his job. Lynn’s moment of truth followed.
He could of settled for overtime and kicked the extra point. No one would have blamed him. The second year coach — just one of six African-American coaches in the 32-team NFL — has done an excellent job since taking over a team that had won 9 games over two seasons prior to his arrival. He went 9-7 as a rookie and just missed the playoffs in 2017. This season, Lynn has led the Chargers to their first double-digit win total since 2009.
Instead, Lynn went for the win. The Chargers had lost nine straight to the Chiefs dating back to 2014 and Lynn felt like he needed to make the madness stop. The Chargers converted the two-point conversion and the rest is history. Lynn is an LA hero.
“F – – – overtime!” one Charger yelled to his nearby teammates, who jubilantly cheered the nod to Lynn’s decision to go for two (and the win.
Early in the season, Kansas City was running away from the division. Now LA and KC are tied at 11-3 and the Chargers are thinking Super Bowl. Why not when you have a head coach that’s never going to sell you short and is the epitome of Herm Edwards’ classic rant: “ You play to win the game.”