Ryan Ficken

Chargers To Retain ST Coordinator Ryan Ficken

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.

Seahawks To Hire Jay Harbaugh As Special Teams Coordinator

When signs were pointing to Jim Harbaugh landing the Chargers’ head coaching position, his son Jay was floated as a logical candidate to join him as special teams coordinator. The latter is indeed making the jump to the NFL, but not in Los Angeles.

Harbaugh is set to join the Seahawks as their special teams coordinator, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reports. He has been with Michigan under Jim Harbaugh since 2015, and much of his tenure with the Wolverines has included time as special teams coordinator. Jay has held that title since 2017, while also serving as a position coach (running backs, tight ends and safeties) at various points along the way.

Once it became clear Jim Harbaugh and the Chargers were talking terms on a contract and candidates to fill out his staff, Jay was reported as a top option for the role of ST coordinator in L.A. The Chargers have indeed matched expectations by hiring Greg Roman in a top offensive role, but today’s news confirms that the younger Harbaugh will not be joining him. Instead, incumbent ST coordinator Ryan Ficken will be retained, as KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson recently reported would likely be the case.

Jay Harbaugh, 34, and new Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald worked together at Michigan when the latter spent the 2021 season as the Wolverines’ defensive coordinator. Macdonald excelled in the DC post with the Ravens for two years, and his success in that role has now helped him become the youngest head coach in the NFL. Macdonald will have a familiar face in at least one coordinator spot on his initial staff.

Seattle’s third phase units had been guided by Larry Izzo for the past three seasons, after he had spent the previous three years as an assistant on special teams. The Seahawks allowed their staffers to seek out new opportunities once it was announced Pete Carroll would return, however. Seattle ranked eighth in special teams DVOA in 2023, and Harbaugh will look to at least match that level of success as the Seahawks aim to return to the postseason. This will mark his first full-time NFL gig as Macdonald’s staff begins to take shape.

Chargers Block Giants From Interviewing ST Coordinator; New York Hires O-Line Coach

A few teams have blocked assistants from interviewing contracted staffers this week. The Chargers are now one of them. Despite firing head coach Brandon Staley and GM Tom Telesco, the Bolts are not giving all their assistants permission to explore opportunities.

The Giants sought an interview with Bolts special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken, but NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo notes the AFC West team prevented that meeting from taking place. The Giants fired longtime ST coordinator Thomas McGaughey earlier this week.

Ficken worked as the Chargers’ ST coordinator for the past two seasons. With this block taking place, he would be under contract — and likely in consideration to stay in Los Angeles under the next HC. Ficken, 43, has been an NFL staffer since 2007. Not a special teams lifer, Ficken spent 15 years with the Vikings coaching several positions. Though, he has concentrated on special teams for the past 11 years.

Additionally, the Giants have hired their next offensive line coach. Former Raiders O-line coach Carmen Bricillo will take over. The Giants moved fast to replace Bobby Johnson, whose unit allowed a staggering number of sacks this season. Collectively, Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor and Tommy DeVito (along with wideout Parris Campbell) took 85 sacks. Only the 1986 Eagles (104) have allowed more in a season.

Bricillo most recently followed Josh McDaniels to Las Vegas. While the 47-year-old assistant coached on the Patriots’ staff, he did not overlap with Brian Daboll. Bricillo coached on Bill Belichick‘s staff from 2019-21, working as the team’s O-line coach over the final two seasons. Prior to Bricillo’s New England stay, he spent over a decade in the college ranks, much of it at Division I-FCS Youngstown State.

While the Raiders fired McDaniels and Dave Ziegler this season, an O-line that featured unremarkable pieces powered Josh Jacobs to a rushing title in 2022. With the Raiders moving on from their brief Patriot Way experiment, The Athletic’s Vic Tafur notes Bricillo was unlikely to return.