1978 San Diego Chargers season
|1978 San Diego Chargers season|
|Head coach||Tommy Prothro (weeks 1-4)|
Don Coryell (weeks 5-16)
|General manager||Johnny Sanders|
|Owner||Eugene V. Klein|
|Home field||San Diego Stadium|
|Division place||3rd AFC West|
|Playoff finish||did not qualify|
The Chargers improved on their 7–7 record in 1977. This season included the "Holy Roller" game. It was Don Coryell's first season as the team's head coach, replacing Tommy Prothro after four games, and the team's first 16-game schedule.
Said the 2006 edition of Pro Football Prospectus, "The Chargers were one of the worst franchises in the NFL before they hired Don Coryell four games into the 1978 season. The Chargers were 1–3 at the time, but finished 8–4 under Coryell, winning seven of their last eight games for the franchise's first winning record since 1969. Blessed with Hall of Famer Dan Fouts, the creative Coryell always designed potent offenses, but the San Diego Defense didn't catch up until 1979...."
It wasn't all roses for new Head Coach Coryell as he lost three out of his first four games, before ending the season by winning seven out of the last eight.
Early-season resignation of head coach Tommy Prothro and hiring of Don Coryell
The previous season Prothro had told team owner Gene Klein that he would coach for only one more year. After the teams third loss in a row, Prothro stayed at the stadium until almost midnight watching game films, and it was during this time that he decided to resign. In a public statement, he said, "I still believe this is a good football team and it is a playoff contender. However, after disappointing losses to Oakland and Denver and the disaster against Green Bay, I feel a fresh approach and a rude awakening may be what this team needs." Klein asked Prothro to stay on in an open-ended position to work in such areas as drafting and trading.
The Chargers hired former St. Louis Cardinal Coach Don Coryell who had been asked to step down from an active role by St. Louis at the end of the last season. Because he still had two years left on his contract with St. Louis, the two teams negotiated and it was agreed upon that the Chargers would give St. Louis a third round draft pick to fully release Coryell from his remaining contract. Coryell had previously coached at San Diego State University from 1961 to 1972 before going to St. Louis. He said, "I'm pleased with the opportunity to coach again in San Diego because it's like a dream come true."
1978 NFL Draft
|1978 San Diego Chargers draft|
|1||14||John Jefferson *||Wide receiver||Arizona State|
|Pro Football Hall of Fame Made at least one Pro Bowl during careerMade roster|
|1978 San Diego Chargers final roster|
|1||September 3, 1978||at Seattle Seahawks||W 24–20|
|2||September 10, 1978||Oakland Raiders||L 21–20|
|3||September 17, 1978||at Denver Broncos||L 27–14|
|4||September 24, 1978||Green Bay Packers||L 24–3|
|5||October 1, 1978||at New England Patriots||L 28–23|
|6||October 8, 1978||Denver Broncos||W 23–0|
|7||October 15, 1978||Miami Dolphins||L 28–21|
|8||October 22, 1978||at Detroit Lions||L 31–14|
|9||October 29, 1978||at Oakland Raiders||W 27–23|
|10||November 5, 1978||Cincinnati Bengals||W 22–13|
|11||November 12, 1978||Kansas City Chiefs||W 29–23|
|12||November 19, 1978||at Minnesota Vikings||W 13–7|
|13||November 26, 1978||at Kansas City Chiefs||L 23–0|
|14||December 4, 1978||Chicago Bears||W 40–7|
|15||December 10, 1978||Seattle Seahawks||W 37–10|
|16||December 17, 1978||at Houston Oilers||W 45–24|
|San Diego Chargers||9||7||0||.563||5–3||7–5||355||309||W3|
|Kansas City Chiefs||4||12||0||.250||1–7||4–10||243||327||L2|