What's Not to Love?

Andy Reid is going to Kansas City. Bill O'Brien is staying at Penn State. Of the splashy candidates still available, the one remaining who has been linked to the Chargers is Lovie Smith. Is the former Bears coach a good fit in San Diego? We dive deeper into this loaded question.

Lovie Smith is a proven winner. He was 81-63 in nine seasons with the Bears, taking Chicago to the Super Bowl in the 2006 season. The Bears won three division titles under his watch.

The question is not whether he's a good coach, but is he the right fit for San Diego?

Issue No. 1: Simply Offensive

The Chargers, normally among the league leaders in overall offense, finished No. 31 in 2012, a staggering drop of 25 spots from the season prior. Smith would seem like a poor choice to rectify the situation. His Bears finished No. 28 in total offense this season. Since taking over as Chicago's coach in 2004, the Bears have averaged 292.6 yards per game, the second worst total in the league over that span.


Coach Cam Cameron
USA Today Sports
If Smith were selected, he would need to hire an established offensive coordinator and cede nearly all control on that side of the ball. One intriguing candidate is Cam Cameron, fired by the Baltimore Ravens late this season. Cameron filled the same role in San Diego from 2002-2006. The Chargers' offense ranked in the top-10 in each of Cameron's final three seasons with the team.

In 2006, with Cameron calling the plays and Philip Rivers in his first season as the starter, the Chargers set a franchise record with 494 points scored.

Issue No. 2: Schematic Synchronization

Smith is a defensive coach who has always enjoyed success on that side of the ball. The Bears are annually among the league leaders in yards allowed, sacks and takeaways. The concern is that Smith achieved that success running a 4-3, Cover 2 defense. The Chargers, by contrast, have run a 3-4 scheme since 2004. There are some players who may not handle that switch well, like Melvin Ingram, Cam Thomas, Shaun Phillips and Vaughn Martin -- Phillips and Martin are pending free agents.

The Chargers may be reluctant to make such significant changes to a defense ranked No. 9 overall (326.4 ypg), No. 6 against the run (96.4 ypg) and No. 4 in sacks (49).

Issue No. 3: Starting a Fire

The most common complaints about Norv Turner are that he is not a motivator or a fiery leader. That has fans yearning for a hard-nosed, outspoken coach, a description that may not fit the stoic Smith. Smith is also known as a player's coach, a term often given to Turner for his tendency to go easy on veterans -- sometimes too easy.

And say what you will about how players respond to Turner, but his teams finish strong. The same cannot be said of Smith, as his Bears were 17-19 in December, including 2-7 in their last nine December games.

Conclusion: Smith is an established coach who would bring credibility, accountability and discipline. He also has a chance to mold San Diego's young defense into one of the top units in the league, although the transition would be rough initially. However, this fit is a square peg in a round hole ... if the Spanos family goes in this direction, it signals a full program rebuild.



What are fans saying about Smith's candidacy? Find out in the message boards.




Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.


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