Chargers focus on Wade Phillips' replacement

The San Diego Chargers are hard at work trying to replace Wade Phillips who took the head coaching job for the Dallas Cowboys. and have confirmed that there are two early frontrunners in the search for his replacement. and have learned that Ted Cottell is under consideration for the vacant defensive coordinator position and has the backing of several members of the San Diego Chargers coaching staff, placing him at the forefront in their search to replace Wade Phillips.

Also, John Pagano, assistant linebackers - quality control, is seen as the in-house candidate at the moment.

Cottrell has 22 years of NFL coaching experience. He worked his way up and around in the NFL -- complete with stops with the Chiefs, Bills and Cardinals as a defensive line coach, a linebackers coach for the Bills and spent three years apiece as the defensive coordinator for the Bills and Jets.

He also spent two years with the Vikings before being fired and unofficially retiring.

Cottrell has extensive experience coaching the 3-4 defensive scheme which the Chargers use and both he and general manager A.J. Smith know each other from their days with the Buffalo Bills.

Interestingly this week, the team signed free agent TE T.J. Cottrell (son of Ted).

There are several who are pulling for Cottrell to take over the vacant position, according to sources with inside knowledge to the situation.

"He's a motivator. He's a teacher. You go in after practice every day and he corrects mistakes," Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield said of Cottrell. "He's a jokester and he can make you laugh. Once you mess up, he'll get on you."

Pagano, originally considered a sure thing to take over as linebackers coach, has been with the Chargers since 2002 and has the respect of many of the linebackers, overseeing the play of the outside linebackers over the last two seasons.

He had a chance to join his brother Chuck in North Carolina but felt there would be an opportunity in San Diego this season.

The ultimate decision lies with head coach Marty Schottenheimer but Cottrell and Pagano have set themselves up as the early frontrunners.

SD Super Chargers Top Stories