INGLEWOOD, Calif. — When Jim Harbaugh was hired as the Los Angeles Chargers head coach last Wednesday, it was a return to the NFL after a nine-year absence.
He was in Baltimore last Sunday to watch his brother, John, and his Baltimore Ravens face the Kansas City Chiefs. CBS interviewed Jim and asked why he decided to return to the NFL.
“There’s no Lombardi Trophy in college football,” Harbaugh said.
Plain and simple.
On Thursday afternoon, he arrived at the Youtube Theater located next to SoFi Stadium for his presentation as the head coach of the Chargers.
What is his goal?
“It’s got to be multiple championships,” he said.” We’re going to be humble and hungry, but that’s our goal.”
Harbaugh isn’t the only one who is hungry for a trophy.
“Dean, I said, ‘I’m hungry to win. We’re hungry to win,'” Harbaugh said. “I told you that and you said, ‘You’re starving’. It just resonated with me so much.”
The Spanos family, along with the Chargers organization, has been through some of the most brutal losses, whether it was in the 1995 Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers, 2004 or 2010 against the New York Jets, 2006 or 2007 to the New England Patriots, or even the 27-0 lead that unraveled against the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.
How can one man change that?
“The team, the team, the team. It’s going to be a team effort,” Harbaugh said. “There won’t be any magic formulas.”
In the past, the coaching hires of Mike McCoy, Anthony Lynn, and Brandon Staley were looked at as “going the cheap route.” Well, the hiring of Harbaugh wasn’t cheap and paying for everything for what Harbaugh wants won’t be cheap either— they know that.
“I want you to know that my family, myself and the entire Chargers organization are 100 percent behind you in this,” Spanos said. “And we’ll do everything in our power to provide you with whatever support and tools you need to be successful.”
The Chargers hired Joe Hortiz, who comes via the Baltimore Ravens, as the new general manager earlier this week. Hortiz joined Baltimore in 1998 and was a part of building two Super Bowl-winning teams.
Hortiz goes from John to Jim to try and build a Super Bowl winning team of their own.
“I really want to be Robin to his Batman in the offseason,” Harbaugh said. “And then when it turns around to the season, I’ll be Batman and he’ll be Robin. We’ll be the ‘Caped Crusaders.'”
Harbaugh knows he has the building blocks to win because it all starts with the quarterback. He has Justin Herbert, someone he has been raving about since before he got the job.
“Justin Herbert walks up on you like…” Harbaugh said looking up at if Herbert was right in front of him.
Herbert is 6’6 in comparison to his new head coach being 6’3. He has played the position, knows the position, and knows how to take his quarterback’s game to the next level.
“First of all, the quarterback we have, protect him and protect his environment,” Harbaugh said. “Also, beef up the run game. Play-action pass and the dropback game, we’re going to try and get it as great as we can. I think we can be extraordinary there with the receivers we have and the quarterback.”
The mind of Harbaugh is an interesting place because this press conference went many different ways, from him talking about his favorite show, “The Rockford Files,” to “Ted Lasso,” to even “The Shawshank Redemption.”
That is who Jim Harbaugh is.
He wants this team to have a great offensive line, have multiple contributing running backs, and get the ball to his playmakers.
There are questions about who the players on this team will be as they are in the hole around $45.8 million with four big contracts, but they can get out of it.
Harbaugh mentioned Herbert, safety Derwin James, receiver Keenan Allen, and left tackle Rashawn Slater as his building blocks.
“We’re going to be a tough team, a resilient team, a relentless team, a physical team,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what we’re going to aspire to be… Don’t let the powder blues fool you.”
That is the Harbaugh way.
However, changes will be made to this team that finished 5-12 and eventually led to the firing of Staley and general manager Tom Telesco.
“I’m waking up real early in the morning these days like, ‘I gotta bring it,'” Harbaugh said. “I gotta bring my A-game. I gotta get a coaching staff hired that’s worthy of coaching Justin, Derwin [James] and all the guys. I’m really thinking about my accountability and making sure that I’m ready.”
Regarding Harbaugh’s staff, the only name he confirmed is his former Director of Strength and Conditioning, Ben Herbert. When asked about former defensive coordinator Jesse Minter or his son, Jay, joining the staff, he said they are constructing it.
“Going through the process right now,” Jim Harbaugh said. “Timeline, I mean, just got to get it right. John said it, and I respect the way they went about that process. There’s so many good coaches out there, and nobody I respect more than Jesse. He’s phenomenal. Shining star as a coach, I’ve been with him. I want to talk to as many people as I can before we make the final hires. But he would be tremendous if we were, and I think Jay’s a great coach, a shining star, as well.”
To win a championship, the organization as a whole has to be aligned. They must have ownership willing to do whatever it takes, and it seems like Spanos is willing because if not, Harbaugh wouldn’t be the coach. It takes a head coach who is able to get the best out of a team. It also takes a team that can put it all together.
The last two points, Harbaugh had done it before in San Francisco, building a contending team that made the Super Bowl even when quarterback Alex Smith went down and Colin Kaepernick took over. He built something in Michigan that finished as the national champions.
Now, he has the opportunity to win the one thing he couldn’t with the 49ers and do it with an organization starving for a Lombardi Trophy.
“This opportunity, as my dad would say, ‘Who’s got it better than us?’ It was time,” Harbaugh added. “I said this the other day, I got so many sands left in the hourglass and I want another shot. I want another shot to be simply known as world champions.”