Chargers hire Mike McCoy as head coach

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Chargers hire Mike McCoy as head coach

SAN DIEGO -- Mike McCoy's interview with San Diego went so well that both sides felt he was a perfect fit to become the Chargers' new coach. McCoy had one thing to do, though, before accepting the Chargers' offer, so it was a good thing Chargers President Dean Spanos' private plane was at his disposal. "There was no doubt in my mind when I got back on that plane to go back home," said McCoy, the former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator who was introduced Tuesday as Chargers' new coach. "They wanted to keep me here last night. But I said, I've got to talk to my wife about this before. If I made the decision without talking to my wife, I might get in a little trouble.'" So McCoy flew back to Denver to talk it over with wife Kellie. McCoy, his wife and their two children were back on the same plane Tuesday morning, flying back to San Diego to take the job. "Without a doubt we knew this was the place we wanted to be," said McCoy, who signed a four-year contract. McCoy replaces Norv Turner, who was fired along with general manager A.J. Smith after the Chargers finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the third straight season. The move comes three days after the top-seeded Broncos were eliminated from the playoffs in a double-overtime home loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The 40-year-old McCoy is the same age as Tom Telesco, who was hired as general manager last week. He interviewed after the Chargers already had talked to Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, fired head coaches Lovie Smith and Ken Whisenhunt, and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. "Once he came in and once we saw how good he was, we just felt we had to have him now," Telesco said of McCoy. "We had to get it done or we'd lose him." "He was polished, prepared, had great questions, which I think is big, too, that he had a lot of questions for us," Telesco said. "It's a partnership between the GM and the head coach, through and through. We spend more time with each other during the season than we do with our own family so it's got to be a tight relationship. When he came in, after a little bit of time you could tell he was the right guy for us. We went after him hard." San Diego was scheduled to interview Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians on Wednesday. Telesco, previously the Colts' vice president of football operations, called Arians on Tuesday morning and told him the Chargers had hired McCoy. "It was a tough phone call," Telesco said. "I have so much respect for Bruce. He's an excellent football coach. He's going to be a great head coach in this league. I was honest with him. I said, There's different situations, different fits, and right now, this is a fit for Mike McCoy.' He understood." McCoy inherits a team that hasn't won a playoff game since after the 2008 season. He thanked all the coaches and players he's worked with over the years for helping him get to this point. He also said he knew just a few minutes into his interview that San Diego was the right place. "They all laughed at me when I walked in yesterday with this big ol' bag with all these books and binders and everything," McCoy said. "Well, that's my life's work. We've got a detailed plan that Tom and I are going to put together. ... There's going to be some change. There's a reason for change. And change is good sometimes in organizations. We've just got to make the most of the opportunity we have moving forward." The Broncos have won consecutive AFC West titles. McCoy tutored quarterbacks Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow in 2011, and had Peyton Manning behind center in 2012. McCoy, who interviewed with the Miami Dolphins last year after retooling Denver's offense to the read-option for Tebow at midstream in 2011, burnished his head coaching credentials this season while blending the power formations the Broncos used in leading the league in rushing last year with Tebow and some of the spread formations that Manning ran in Indianapolis. "I think he's going to be a great head coach. Very detail-oriented, knows the game, relates with players very well," Broncos wide receiver Brandon Stokley said. "Peyton does a lot but Mike is very good at what he does and he did a great job this year, so a lot of credit needs to go to him, also," Stokley said. "I think that's what you need to be a head coach -- you need to be flexible. You need to do whatever you think is the best for your team to win and you know that's what he's done. You saw that last year. Not a lot of offensive coordinators in the NFL like running that kind of offense, but that's what he did and it was successful." McCoy said he was "a bit stubborn" after Tebow was made the starter in 2011, but then realized he needed to change the offense. "You take advantage of what your players do best," McCoy said. With the Chargers, McCoy will work with Philip Rivers, who struggled this season in large part because he was under siege behind a shaky offensive line. Rivers was sacked 49 times and committed 22 turnovers, giving him 47 turnovers in two seasons. "You go through the disappointment from the season and losing your coach to now having a new GM, new coach, and you get excited and ready to go for this 2013 season," Rivers said. "Once I found out that we were bringing him in on Monday, I was hoping he wasn't going to leave again. I'm excited that was the case and I'm looking forward to getting started." Denver swept the Chargers in 2012, including an epic 35-24 victory at San Diego on Oct. 15 when Manning calmly led the Broncos back from a 24-0 halftime deficit. McCoy was a walk-on quarterback at Long Beach State under coach George Allen. After the 49ers dropped football, he transferred to Utah. He signed with the Broncos as a free agent and spent his rookie season on Green Bay's practice squad. He had stops in NFL Europe and with San Francisco, Philadelphia and in the CFL. He began his pro coaching career with Carolina before moving to the Broncos in 2009. McCoy said he learned about detail and preparation from Allen, who coached the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins. "He was not a big yeller and screamer, he just expected you to go out there and do your job and execute the system the way it was supposed to be executed," McCoy said. McCoy said he planned to hire an offensive coordinator to call plays. Turner called his own plays. McCoy was non-committal about defensive coordinator John Pagano, saying he planned to evaluate the entire staff. 2013 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

Despite blowout loss, Sixers see potential in Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor playing together

Despite blowout loss, Sixers see potential in Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor playing together

BOX SCORE

Brett Brown was ready to do it Wednesday night. The matchup against the Kings presented an opportunity to experiment with playing Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor together. That pairing had to wait two days, though, after the Kings game was postponed

On Friday, Embiid and Okafor shared the court for just under 13 minutes in the Sixers' 105-88 loss to the Magic (see Instant Replay), who also rolled out a duo of bigs in Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic. 

“I thought we had our moments,” Embiid said. “We shared the ball, we made shots. Obviously we need to play more together and learn how to play with each other.”

Embiid and Okafor first played together for 5:29 in the second quarter. They scored all of the Sixers' 12 points during that time, including a pair of threes by Embiid. They also combined for five boards. The Sixers outscored the Magic, 12-9, with the bigs in together.

The benefits of the floor spacing was apparent. Oftentimes in the game, Okafor could be seen open at the basket with a hand up for the ball while Embiid was also getting looks from long range. 

“I liked our spacing, I liked the high-low stuff we were doing,” Brown said. “I think when you post Joel, that Jahlil is going to play sort of hide-and-seek on the other side of the floor, and work that low zone, and become — I hope — a potent offensive rebounder. When you post Jahlil, Joel has the ability to space to three.”

Brown turned to Embiid and Okafor again in the fourth. At that point, the Magic had a 23-point lead. Their next 7:25 together was a chance to give them a long run in live game action. They combined for another 12 points and four rebounds. All of their buckets were layups, dunks or free throws. Both teams scored 19 points with Embiid and Okafor in that segment.

Both Embiid and Okafor finished the game with double-doubles: 25 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for Embiid; 16 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks for Okafor. 

“I thought they played well together,” Vucevic said. “I thought it was tough to guard them because they’re both really good offensively.”

Okafor credited his friendship with Embiid, which dates back to high school, as a key to coexisting well on the court. Both emphasized their off-the-court relationship would help them in a game situation. 

“I think the communication piece went really well,” Okafor said. “He was talking to me, I was talking to him.”

Scoring and communication always seemed to be the easier parts of the pairing to tackle. Defense, though, was the challenge given that one of the centers would have to guard the four spot. Okafor noted their transition D as an area that needs improvement.

“We’re both used to going right to the rim,” Okafor said. “I think I had a couple easy buckets. That’s something we’ll be able to fix.” 

Brown had based his decision of when to play Embiid and Okafor together on the matchups. While the two could boast their own edge on the offensive end, Brown didn’t want to play them in a scenario in which they’d be at a huge defensive disadvantage. 

“It’s not offense to me, it’s defense. That’s the thing that is most challenging,” Brown said. “We want to play fast. We want to put points on the board. You don’t want to play in the 80s. You don’t want to do that, that’s not our sport anymore. So you want to make sure that you're capable of guarding the opposition.”

Vucevic noticed the challenge from an opposing perspective. He understands the necessary changes since playing alongside Biyombo.  

“It takes time for them to get adjusted, especially for the guy that will be playing the four defensively,” Vucevic said. “They’re not used to that because they always back down to the paint guarding the fives. It’s a different look. They have to work on it, communicate, and I think they’ll be fine.” 

On a night with few highlights in a 17-point blowout loss, Brown was able to take away a positive from this anticipated duo.

"I thought Jahlil and Joel did a really good job," he said. 

Sixers Notes: Joel Embiid unhappy with effort; Robert Covington hurt

Sixers Notes: Joel Embiid unhappy with effort; Robert Covington hurt

Joel Embiid didn’t see four quarters of basketball from the Sixers in their 105-88 loss to the Magic Friday night (see Instant Replay). Their efforts were inconsistent as they fell flat in long stretches and allowed the Magic to build up double-digit leads as high as 29 points.

The Sixers gave up a 16-0 run in the first and shot just 6 for 26 (23.1 percent) in the quarter. The Magic, who had lost a one-point game to the Grizzlies in Memphis the night before, rallied together to seize this opportunity.

“They just made a lot of shots that we didn’t,” Embiid said. “That’s the game, but we didn’t play hard all 48 minutes and we need to do a better job next time.”

The Sixers didn’t break 30 points until 4:33 to go in the second and attempted just two free throws in the first half. By the end of the third, the Magic had a 21-point lead which they held on to with in ease in the fourth. 

The Magic outshot the Sixers on all areas of the floor: 47.4 percent to 37.9 from the field and 50.0 to 28.1 from three. While the teams had nearly equal percentages from the line, the Magic shot 18 for 26 compared to only 7 for 10 from the Sixers. 

“They missed a lot of shots,” Magic forward Jeff Green said. “We got stops, were aggressive, guys just played hard and created for one another and played as a team.”

Covington injured
The Sixers are waiting to learn more news on the extent of Robert Covington’s injury. In the fourth quarter, Covington exited and did not return after suffering a left knee sprain when he collided with T.J. McConnell chasing a loose ball in front of the Sixers’ bench. If the starting small forward has to miss time, Sixers head coach Brett Brown is thinking ahead to possible lineup changes. 

“We'll try to figure out what his next week represents,” Brown said. “If we aren't with him, maybe there's a chance we can look at Dario [Saric] a little bit at the three.”

Covington is averaging 8.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 27.5 minutes per game. Saric has been coming off the bench at power forward behind Ersan Ilyasova. He started 10 games earlier this season at the four spot. 

Embiid honored
The Sixers honored Embiid during a timeout for being named NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month (October and November). Embiid was appreciative of the award and has his sights set on the bigger picture this season.

“All the hard work I’ve put in, it feels great,” Embiid said earlier in the day at shootaround. “Obviously, maybe the bigger picture is Rookie of the Year, that’s what matters. … I don’t have my mind set on that. But if I can get it, that would be nice.”

Brown sees this recent showing as just a glimpse into what Embiid will be able to do over his career. Embiid leads the Sixers with 18.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. 

“This in infant stages, early days for him,” Brown said. “His body of work, given his lack of playing basketball, really is jaw-dropping for what I think he can be. To jump in and get rookie of the month I think is a real, sort of, quick snapshot view of him now. I think what he’s going to be is going to be extremely special.”

Embiid also is shooting 51.4 percent from three, including 3 for 5 against the Magic. When asked if he would like to participate in the three-point contest All-Star weekend, he said "it would be nice" and noted he would have to work on the speed of his release.