Explaining Ken Whisenhunt’s Firing and Where the Chargers Go from Here – Sports Illustrated Los Angeles Chargers News, Analysis and More

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Chargers escaped Soldier Field with a 17-16 win over the Chicago Bears to cap a three-game skid. One day later, the Chargers fired offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, ending his second stint with the team after three and a half years.

The Chargers provided little warning for the decision. Head coach Anthony Lynn waited until after his Monday press conference to announce Whisenhunt’s firing and did not state a reason for the longtime assistant’s ouster in the team’s press release. Lynn also declined to name Whisenhunt’s replacement, though quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen will step in as the interim offensive play-caller, according to those informed of the situation.

Whether or not Lynn offers his reasons for making the change, the Chargers’ offensive performance over the past month offers a window into his thought process.

Under Whisenhunt, the Chargers’ rushing attack ground to a halt in October, averaging just 35.5 yards per game and topping out at 39 against the Tennessee Titans in Week 7. In doing so, they became the first team to run for less than 40 yards in four consecutive games since the 1946 season. The lack of production occurred despite the presence of do-everything scatback Austin Ekeler and the late-September return of Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon. Even in a pass-first league, the near-complete lack of a ground game must have frustrated Lynn, a former NFL running back.

Whisenhunt also oversaw a similar downturn in the passing game. Quarterback Philip Rivers has thrown for touchdowns on just 3.9 percent of his attempts, the lowest rate of his career as a starter and a drop of 2.4 percentage points from his mark in 2018. Rivers posted just 6.7 yards per pass over his last four games (28th in the NFL during that span) after averaging 8.7 the first month of the season (fourth). The Chargers have also struggled to put the ball into the hands of their playmakers, with Pro Bowl wideout Keenan Allen averaging just 41.3 yards in October after leading the league with 452 receiving yards in September.

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