Written by Jeff Howe, Daniel Popper, Austin Meek, and Greg Rosenstein
The Los Angeles Chargers have hired Jesse Minter as their next defensive coordinator, the team announced Tuesday. They are also expected to hire Greg Roman as their offensive coordinator, a league source said The athlete. These are the first major hires under new coach Jim Harbaugh, who left Michigan after winning the NFL national championship in January.
Minter has been Michigan's defensive coordinator the past two seasons after serving in the same position at Vanderbilt. Michigan allowed just 247 yards per game last season, No. 1 in the country. Minter was previously part of John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens staff as defensive backs coach in 2020.
Roman did not coach last season. He was the offensive coordinator for the Ravens for four seasons, the San Francisco 49ers for four seasons and the Buffalo Bills for two seasons.
Harbaugh takes over for Brandon Staley, who was fired in December after starting the season 5-9.
Why did the Chargers make these moves?
New general manager Joe Hortiz said Tuesday in his introductory news conference that he and Harbaugh have been “working nonstop” to finalize the coaching staff. “This is our main priority right now,” Hortiz said. The Chargers followed that up by announcing the first member of Harbaugh's new staff hours after the press conference: Minter. Roman will follow, and more announcements are expected in the coming days as Harbaugh's staff makes appearances.
Former Colts offensive coordinator Marcus Brady is another name to keep an eye on as a passing game coordinator. Brady, who coached Andrew Luck in 2018 and most recently served as an Eagles assistant, was in the building in recent days. Harbaugh, of course, coached Luck at Stanford. -Daniel Popper, Charger writer
The synergy is starting to build
Before being hired as Harbaugh's Michigan defensive coordinator in 2022, Minter was a defensive assistant with the Ravens from 2017 to 2020. He took over in Ann Arbor for Mike McDonald, who left Michigan to take the Ravens' defensive coordinator job in 2022. Roman was most recently the coordinator The Ravens' offensive tackle from 2019-2022, under coach John Harbaugh, Jim's brother. Hortiz has spent the past 26 seasons with the Ravens, including the past five as director of player personnel. Jim Harbaugh said last week that Hortiz is a “perfect fit” in part because he knows “some of the systems that we're going to use on defense and offense.”
Roman is a proven scheme for the run game and will help grow the physical brand of football that both Harbaugh and Hortiz desire. On Tuesday, Hortiz said there won't be a “major shift” in terms of building defensive personnel under Minter, as his scheme, structurally, is similar to the way the Chargers played under former coach Staley — two edge rushers and three linemen. Defensive. And two midfielders in the starting packages. — Popper
Los Angeles isn't over yet
The final piece to the Chargers coordinator puzzle is the special teams coordinator. Ryan Ficken, who spent the past two seasons as the Chargers' special teams coordinator, remains a strong candidate to remain with the team in his current role. As both Harbaugh and president of football operations John Spanos said last week, the organization has continued talks with Ficken since Harbaugh was hired as coach.
Ficken has led a dramatic turnaround with the Chargers' special teams unit over the past two seasons, building the group into one of the best in the league. The Chargers ranked 28th in special teams DVOA in 2021, according to FTN Fantasy. That ranking improved to sixth in 2022, Ficken's first season. The Chargers ranked second in special teams DVOA last season. Rookie returner Derrius Davis was named second-team All-Pro. There is interest on both sides, and we'll see if the Chargers can finalize a deal for Ficken this week. — Popper
What does this mean for Michigan?
Although Minter's move to the Chargers had not been finalized until Tuesday, it was widely expected that he would join Jim Harbaugh in Los Angeles and Michigan had already begun its search for his replacement. With defensive line coach Mike Elston also leaving for the Chargers, Michigan's defensive staff will look dramatically different next season. Finding a coordinator with ties to the Baltimore Ravens' scheme is a strong consideration for Michigan after the success of Minter and Mike McDonald, now the head coach of the Seahawks.
Minter's stock has never been higher after Michigan led the FBS in total defense and scoring defense this season en route to winning the national championship, and finding his replacement is one of the first big decisions for new coach Sherwin Moore. — Austin Meek, Michigan staff writer
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