By Jeff Howe, Daniel Popper, Austin Meek and Greg Rosenstein
The Los Angeles Chargers 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 told The Athletic. These are the first major hires under new coach Jim Harbaugh, who left Michigan after winning the national championship for the NFL in January.
Minter was Michigan’s defensive coordinator over the last two seasons after serving in the same role at Vanderbilt. Michigan allowed only 247 yards per game last season, No. 1 in the nation. Minter was previously a part of John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens staff as a defensive backs coach in 2020.
Roman did not coach this past 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 took over for Brandon Staley, who was fired in December after a 5-9 start to the season.
Why the Chargers made these moves
New general manager Joe Hortiz said Tuesday at his introductory news conference that he and Harbaugh had been “working nonstop” to finalize the coaching staff. “That’s 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 news conference: Minter. Roman will follow, and more announcements are expected in the coming days as Harbaugh’s staff materializes.
Former Colts offensive coordinator Marcus Brady is another name to monitor as passing-game coordinator. Brady, who coached Andrew Luck in 2018 and most recently worked as an Eagles assistant, has been in the building in recent days. Harbaugh, of course, coached Luck at Stanford. — Daniel Popper, Chargers beat writer
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 2017-20. He took over in Ann Arbor for Mike Macdonald, who left Michigan to take the Ravens defensive coordinator job in 2022. Roman most recently was the Ravens’ offensive coordinator from 2019-22, under coach John Harbaugh, Jim’s brother. Hortiz spent that past 26 seasons with the Ravens, including the past five as director of player personnel. Jim Harbaugh said last week that Hortiz is a “great fit” partly because he knows “some of the systems that we’re going to put in on defense and offense.”
Roman is a proven run-game schemer and will help cultivate the physical brand of football both Harbaugh and Hortiz desire. On Tuesday, Hortiz said there will not be a “big shift” as far as building the defensive personnel under Minter, as his scheme, structurally, is similar to how the Chargers played under previous coach Staley — two edge rushers, three down defensive linemen and two inside linebackers in base packages. — Popper
L.A. not done just yet
The final piece in the Chargers’ coordinator puzzle is 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 conversations with Ficken since Harbaugh was hired as coach.
Ficken 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 finished second in special teams DVOA this past season. Rookie returner Derius Davis was named a second-team All-Pro. There is interest on both sides, and we will see if the Chargers can finalize a deal with Ficken this week. — Popper
What does this mean for Michigan?
Though Minter’s move to the Chargers wasn’t finalized until Tuesday, it was widely expected that he would join Jim Harbaugh in L.A. and Michigan had already started the search for his replacement. With defensive line coach Mike Elston also leaving for the Chargers, Michigan’s defensive staff will look significantly 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 Macdonald, 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 Sherrone Moore. — Austin Meek, Michigan staff writer