Looking as if they were prepared to call a quick audible, the San Diego Chargers
named quarterbacks coach Frank Reich as the team's new offensive coordinator Tuesday.
That announcement came one day after Ken Whisenhunt vacated the Chargers' offensive coordinator position when he was named head coach of the Tennessee Titans
In what would be a related move, the Chargers reportedly re-signed defensive coordinator John Pagano Tuesday as rumors surfaced that the Titans were also interested in him.
"With Frank as offensive coordinator, we will be able to maintain continuity on offense and help maximize the production by (quarterback) Philip (Rivers) and the entire unit," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. "He has a great feel for the offense we have created and he has been a valuable asset to Philip and all of the quarterbacks."
Reich, 52, joined the Chargers in 2013 as quarterbacks coach and helped tutor Rivers to a record-breaking season. Rivers completed a team-record, career-best and NFL-leading 69.5 percent of his passes (378-of-544) in 2013, good for 4,478 yards (third highest of his career), 32 touchdowns (second most of his career) and just 11 interceptions.
That created a career- and team-record-tying passer rating of 105.5. Rivers also set a team mark for single-season completions with 378, and he ended the regular season having thrown a touchdown in 20 straight games, tied for the second-longest streak in team history.
"Frank has been great," said Rivers, obviously on a first-name basis with his mentor. "His steadiness from week to week, the way he helps prepare us and coaches is second to none. His playing career obviously helps and his preparation. His 14 years of playing experience is valuable in itself. There is a guy that stood in the pocket and can relate to you on a personal level because he has done it. He is a heck of a teacher. It was great having him and it was a great first-year start with him."
Reich played at the University of Maryland before the Buffalo Bills
made him a third-round pick in 1985. He played 14 NFL seasons, including 10 with Buffalo (1985-94), one with Carolina (1995), one with the New York Jets
(1996), and two with Detroit (1997-98) before retiring in 1998.
Most notably, Reich was involved in two of the greatest comeback victories in football history, one as a collegian and the other as a pro. During his senior season (1984) at Maryland, Reich led the Terrapins to a 42-40 win over the University of Miami in a game that his squad trailed 31-0. Nine seasons later as the backup quarterback for the Buffalo Bills (1992), Reich started for an injured Jim Kelly in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Houston Oilers and he rallied the Bills from a 35-3 deficit in the third quarter to a 41-38 win over the Oilers. To this day, it is still the greatest comeback in NFL history.
Reich spent seven years in private business before moving back into professional football. In 2006, he took a coaching internship with the Indianapolis Colts
, and in 2008, they elevated him to an offensive assistant position. He remained with the Colts until 2012 when he was hired as the wide receivers coach for the Arizona Cardinals
. The Cardinals' head coach at the time was Whisenhunt.
Pagano, 46, is the brother of Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. Pagano has worked on the Chargers' coaching staff since 2002 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2012.
He oversaw a defense this season that was instrumental in getting the Chargers to the postseason. After upsetting the Cincinnati Bengals
in the AFC wild-card round, San Diego was eliminated by the Denver Broncos
in Sunday's divisional playoff game.
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