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Donovan McNabb has one big question for Jim Harbaugh as he enters new Chargers era

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Jim Harbaugh’s arrival in Los Angeles to coach the Chargers has led to praise for the organization, as they get one of the top head coaching candidates on the market to lead their squad for years to come. 

Chargers fans have waited patiently as talks get more intense, with Harbaugh’s intentions to return to the NFL quite clear. In the end, he’s ready to take over a team he once played for and turn things around after they went 5-12 in 2023. 

While Harbaugh will be consulted about the new GM hire in Los Angeles to see who he will be working alongside to build the roster, he also needs to put his staff together. There’s no doubt an offense with Justin Herbert at quarterback can be an explosive group under Harbaugh. 

But what about the defense, a group that was star-studded but totally underperformed last season? Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb thinks getting that hire right will have a big impact on Harbaugh’s 2024 season and beyond. 

“I think this is great news for Justin Herbert and that offense,” McNabb said on OutKick’s “The Five Spot with Donovan McNabb.” “But more importantly, the questions go out for me of who’s going to be the defensive coordinator.”

“You look at the names on that roster of the starting defensive players, meaning [Joey] Bosa, Khalil Mack, Derwin James, and the list goes on of talented players. But who’s going to be the defensive coordinator to get them going to get back to that top 10, possibly top five, defense so this offense can continue to be explosive?”

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It’s a valid question that is likely on the mind of Chargers fans, especially considering the cap hell the team currently finds themselves in. Those players McNabb mentioned – Mack, Bosa and James – are all players that have been mentioned as possible cut candidates just to lower the cap, which is over the threshold by about $45 million.

With the payroll the Chargers had on the books, they should’ve been a much better team, especially on the defensive side. They were 28th in the league in yards allowed per game (362.9), many of which came in the pass game, where they finished 30th (249.8 per game). 

University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh holding up championship trophy

When your offense is producing, but you’re giving up 23.4 points per game like the Chargers did, it’s usually not a formula for success. 

But Harbaugh is no stranger to what it takes to win in the NFL, and he certainly knows the right coordinator goes a long way to developing a playoff team, let alone one that can compete in the Super Bowl. 

That said, McNabb is among a large majority that feels Harbaugh is a right fit for the Chargers. 

“So, when I look all around with this decision, I think it’s a great move,” he explained. “You have a guy who has experience being successful in the NFL when he was with the 49ers. He’s molded a young quarterback like he did with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.”

Jim Harbaugh looks on

“Now, you have Justin Herbert, who’s very talented throwing the football, and he has some athleticism to be able to get outside the pocket and create for the wide receiving corps that he has, which is very talented.”

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