The offensive and defensive coordinators hired on Jim Harbaugh‘s initial Chargers staff have come about as planned. Greg Roman and Jesse Minter are in place to begin a new chapter in their respective working relationships with Harbaugh, but the same is not the case for the coach at the helm on special teams.
The Chargers are retaining Ryan Ficken, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports. That move comes as no surprise on a few levels. As Pelissero notes, Los Angeles blocked Ficken from interviewing elsewhere even amidst the expectation that Harbaugh’s son, Jay Harbaugh, would follow his father from Michigan to the pro level. Instead, Jay has reached agreement to join the Seahawks as their special teams coordinator.
That move all-but sealed Ficken’s fate with respect to remaining in Los Angeles moving forward. The 43-year-old took his first NFL coaching position in 2007 with the Vikings. He remained in Minnesota from 2007-12 while coaching the team’s running backs and receivers. In 2013, he began working with special teams, taking over as coordinator for the 2021 campaign.
Ficken’s showing during that time led him to the Chargers, where he has guided L.A.’s special teams for the past two seasons. The Chargers ranked sixth in special teams DVOA in 2022, improving to second in that regard this past campaign. The team also finished strong in both years with respect to Rick Gosselin’s highly-acclaimed special teams rankings, posting finishes of seventh and fifth, respectively.
Given that level of success, expectations will be high on special teams in 2024 for the Chargers as they look to take a needed step forward in a number of other areas. Los Angeles’ third phase will have welcomed continuity on the sidelines, and Ficken will continue in his posting for at least one more season. Another strong campaign would no doubt lead to a repeat of interest around the league for outside coaching opportunities.