3 candidates Chargers could consider to fill special teams coordinator vacancy

·3 min read

After just one season, the Chargers let go of special teams coordinator Derius Swinton II and assistant special teams coordinator Mayur Chaudhari.

Despite making strides during the season’s final stretch after the additions of returner Andre Roberts and kicker Dustin Hopkins, Los Angeles finished the season 28th in special teams EPA and DVOA.

Now, the search for their replacements begins. With that being said, here are four candidates that Brandon Staley could consider hiring.

Joe Judge

Before being relieved by the Giants as their head coach, Judge spent 2015-2019 with the Patriots as the special teams coordinator. Under Judge’s guidance, New England’s special teams ranked in the Top 10 in each of his five seasons as coordinator, according to Pro Football Focus. New England’s special teams was key in winning Super Bowl LIII, as the punt coverage team forced the Rams to start three of their drives inside their own 10-yard line. In 2019, the Patriots ranked first in average starting field position (32.7) and in opponent starting field position (25.1). They blocked two that were returned for touchdowns. New England never allowed a punt to be returned for 20+ yards.

Chris Tabor

Familiarity is a major factor when considering position vacancies, and Staley knows Tabor dating back to his time when he served as the Bears’ outside linebackers coach in 2018. Tabor is one of the more established special teams coordinators to the point where he’s being considered for a head coaching position (Panthers). But his resume speaks for itself, so it’s no surprise. The Bears ranked seventh in special teams EPA and DVOA. Chicago’s punt-return unit finished in the top 10 three of his four seasons with the team. Further, Chicago finished fourth in the NFL in punt-return average in 2021 (11.7 yards per return), 12th in kickoff-return average (23.1 yards) and they were one of just two teams with a punt return for a touchdown, with the other being the Rams.

Jeff Rodgers

Staley and Rodgers were a part of the Bears’ staff in 2017, the year the team tied for the most three special teams touchdowns (3). There are also some family ties as Jeff is the brother of Chargers defensive line coach, Jay Rodgers. Rodgers has 20 years of coaching experience under his belt, having spent time with the 49ers, Panthers, Broncos, Bears, and currently the Cardinals, as special teams coordinator and assistant head coach. After overtaking Arizona’s department in 2018, it ranked fifth after finishing 30th the year before. In 2019, kicker Zane Gonzalez ranked fourth in the NFL in both total points (127) and made fields (31) while punter Andy Lee ranked second in the NFL with a 47.8-yard punting average, according to the team’s website. The Cardinals ranked 12th in punt-return average (9.2) and 13th in kickoff-return defense (21.05) this season.