The Rams — perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not — also chose their new coach Thursday, making Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay the youngest head coach in NFL history earlier in the day.
Let the one-upsmanship commence.
Neither coaching hire qualifies as a major splash. McVay’s youth — he turns 31 later this month — makes him at least a curiosity. He is regarded as a rising star in the NFL coaching ranks, having helped Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins to amass more than 9,000 passing yards over the past two seasons.
But there is no way of knowing for certain at this point that McVay is ready to be an NFL head coach. It is almost impossible to discern how much of the Redskins’ offensive success was his doing and how much of it was the doing of Coach Jay Gruden. McVay could be the league’s next great coach. Or he could be the next Lane Kiffin, the previous record-holder for being the NFL’s most youthful head coaching prodigy. That didn’t go so well in Oakland, if you recall.
Lynn, too, is a respected coach within the league. He was among the head coaching candidates recommended to the NFL by the Fritz Pollard Alliance, the diversity group that works closely with the league on its minority hiring practices. Lynn’s ascent was rapid this season. He was elevated to offensive coordinator when the Bills fired Greg Roman two games into the season. He became the Bills’ interim coach for the regular season finale when Rex Ryan was fired.
Lynn initially was regarded as the favorite to be retained as the Bills’ full-time coach, but they opted for a defensive coordinator, the Carolina Panthers’ Sean McDermott, instead. Now it will be up to Lynn to help the Chargers get off to a quick start in their new home.
The Chargers won’t share a stadium with the Rams for the next two seasons. Their temporary home will be the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., while the palace that they eventually will cohabitate with the Rams in Inglewood is under construction. The Rams already have set up shop at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
But there is no doubt about it. The two franchises are competitors just as much as they are business partners, probably even more so. They will vie for the hearts, minds and dollars of football fans and prospective sponsors in Los Angeles. These coaching hires — and how they turn out — matter plenty.
The Rams have a one-year head start. But their 4-12 season did little to re-establish themselves in the L.A. market. McVay does have talent on hand, with young quarterback Jared Goff and tailback Todd Gurley on offense and dominant lineman Aaron Donald on defense.
McVay got off to a brilliant beginning Thursday night by landing Wade Phillips as his defensive coordinator. Phillips’s defense won the Super Bowl for the Denver Broncos last season but his contract had expired. The Broncos wanted to keep him and the Redskins also were in pursuit. But Phillips chose McVay and the Rams.
Lynn inherits a Chargers team that went 5-11 in its final season in San Diego but has a well-established quarterback, Philip Rivers, who should have some good seasons left in him.
The race is on to see which can become a winner first.