If a head coaching firing in the NFL can be both stunning but not unexpected at the same time, this is it. The San Diego Chargers finally decided to cut their losses with the embattled Marty Schottenheimer after 5 years as coach. The tipping point has been building in the last month ever since the juggernaut Chargers lost in the divisional playoff to the Patriots then witnessed an exodus of assistant coaches to other teams (i.e. Wade Phillips and Cam Cameron) and higher positions. An already frosty (at best) relationship between Schottenheimer and GM A.J. Smith couldn't take any more stress than it had already come under, and as a result the last thread that Marty was holding on by finally snapped.
Of course this is the logical and correct decision by San Diego in the decision of GM Smith or Coach Schottenheimer. If one of them had to go - and clearly, one did - it was going to be Schottenheimer. He was already a lame duck head coach who hasn't won a playoff game in more than a decade. And let's not forget that Smith has done an incredible job assembling a roster than many regard as the most talented in the league.
What does this mean for the Chargers? Who will they hire at this point so late in the game? Again, Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera pops out as a obvious possibility. Colts assistant Jim Caldwell, who along with Rivera interviewed last week for the Cowboys job, could also get a look. Maybe they'd try to lure Redskins offensive coordinator Al Saunders? It's hard to envision the Bolts going after a college coach - it's much too late, with National Signing Day having just wrapped up last week.
And now, what happens to Marty Schottenheimer? At 63, I'd say that he has one more coaching stint left in him. He's going to get a call from teams that need a coach next year, no doubt about it - he's too good for that not to happen. But you would think that'll be his last chance to win a Super Bowl. And considering how badly he wants to win one, I don' t think he'd take just any job. I doubt that at this point in his career, he's willing to wait around and build a team from scratch. The team he takes over will need to have some pieces in place.
For an offseason that wasn't supposed to have too many spins on the coaching carousel, this will be the seventh head coaching change of the offseason. Just par for the course in the oftentimes crazy world of the NFL.