If you squint just right, it’s not a pretty sight.
Mike McCoy? Kevin Gilbride? McCoy? Gilbride?
The Chargers wrestle with the visiting New York Giants on Sunday, and why do I think Gilbride when someone shouts “G-Men?”
Seeing Gilbride diagram plays as the Giants’ offensive coordinator brings back memories. Some of them are painful, especially if you’re Gilbride’s poodle.
Now before we get to the Chargers playing like mutts — losers of four of their last five; in a race to the AFC West bottom with the Raiders — let’s remember when Gilbride was hired by the Bolts in 1997.
And I recall the day he was canned by ex-general manager Bobby Beathard. Gilbride, a noted hotshot offensive wizard, was fired after 22 games.
That news brought with it a call to Gilbride’s Alpine home. Mrs. Gilbride answered and informed me her unemployed husband was walking their poodle, and with Mr. Gilbride never returning the message, you hope the little guys’ paws are holding up.
Which circles us back to McCoy, and it doesn’t require that long of a leash to yank him into this tale.
McCoy, like Gilbride, had never been an NFL head coach.
McCoy, like Gilbride, was a sizzling commodity on the offseason coaching carousel. McCoy had Denver quarterback Peyton Manning playing well to pad his resume. Gilbride leaned on star Jacksonville quarterback Mark Brunell.
McCoy, like Gilbride, has the Chargers (5-7) playing consistently inconsistent.
The Chargers pray the similarities end there.
Gilbride didn’t make it through two seasons as the Chargers’ savior. Of course he was saddled with quarterback Ryan Leaf, and bringing peace to the Middle East is easier than getting Leaf on track.
But in dusting off mental snapshots of Gilbride, we’re reminded of how inexact of a science this head-coaching business is.
Gilbride, back then, was a sensational candidate and obviously won the interview with Beathard. While Beathard was often snookered when reaching for college players, his work in hiring coaches, at that time, included selecting an unknown like Joe Gibbs in Washington and giving Bobby Ross his San Diego shot — and we know how both turned out.
That Beathard went with Gilbride after chasing Ross away is a column for another day. But what’s clear, on this day, is that the jury remains out on McCoy.
The Chargers had a groove going earlier this year, beating up on second-tier squads and shocking the Colts and Cowboys. But there has been little giddy-up at Chargers Park of late, with the team in a free fall as it watches a dwindling fan base, well, dwindle more.
The Raiders have the Black Hole and the Chargers offer the Black Out Hole. Last Sunday’s loss to the Bengals was no-dice for local TV and this Sunday’s game has a dark cloud over it, too. This after half of the Chargers’ home games were given the static treatment last year.
McCoy is not only a rookie NFL head coach, but a newbie at any level. His mistakes have been many, whether it’s play calling, clock management, game-day roster decisions or his uncomfortable relationship with the media, as he spouts one cliche after another.
We’re not suggesting McCoy is another Gilbride. What we’re saying is that no one knows whether McCoy is the next Sean Payton or Gilbride 2.0.
McCoy is obviously sharp with the offense, but the same was once said of Gilbride. Gilbride, to be fair, does have two Super Bowl trophies to show for his work in the Big Apple.
But taking a successful bite out of this head-coaching entree is tricky. Many a confident coach has bellied up to the buffet, only to have his bosses soon reaching for the Tums.
Gilbride went 6-16 before being shown the door, where his pet poodle was patiently waiting.
McCoy is far from there, but it would behoove him to quickly fetch a win, and in that regard, Sunday can’t get here fast enough.
Jay Paris can be heard talking Chargers football on 1090 AM on Monday and Friday mornings. He’s also the Wednesday morning co-host of “Hacksaw and Company.” He can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @jparis_sports.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports