Time seems to be running out for Brandon Staley in Los Angeles.
For many, the Chargers’ end to the 2022-2023 season should have been the final straw. Facing the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road during Wild Card Weekend, Los Angeles built a 27-0 lead late in the second quarter and took a 27-7 lead into the locker room at the halftime break.
But they lost 31-30 to the Jaguars.
However, Staley kept his job, and the team added Kellen Moore as their new offensive coordinator, with the hopes of getting the best out of Justin Herbert, one of the game’s best young quarterbacks. Could another playoff run — hopefully with better results — be in the works?
Well, those slim playoff hopes took a massive hit on Sunday, as Los Angeles went into Lambeau Field and lost an entirely winnable game against the Green Bay Packers. Herbert held up his end of the bargain, completing 21 of 36 passes for 260 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
And it should have been more. Offensive miscues plagued the Chargers throughout this game. Perhaps the most notable was this an uncharacteristic drop from Keenan Allen. With the game knotted at ten, and the Chargers facing a third-and-goal at the Packers’ 8-yard line, Herbert looked in Allen’s direction with the receiver open at the goal line and put the throw right between the 1 and the 3 on Allen’s jersey.
But the pass fell incomplete:
Then late in the game, with the Chargers trailing 23-20, Herbert looked in the direction of rookie wide receiver Quentin Johnston.
That’s when this happened:
If Johnston hauls this in and falls immediately to the turf, the Chargers are at least in field goal range. But this could have been a game-winning touchdown.
It was not.
Then there is the defense. Sure, the Chargers held the Packers to 23 points today, but this is a defensive unit that coming into Sunday was allowing 5.9 yards per offensive play — third most in the NFL — and 23.9 points per game — ninth most in the league.
Staley’s defense giving up these kinds of numbers is a black mark on his resume, given that defense was his calling card coming into the league.
With this loss, the Chargers are now just 4-6 on the season, which puts them at the bottom of the division. That leaves them three games behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the win column and behind the Las Vegas Raiders, who have fired their coach already. It also puts the Chargers a half-game behind the Denver Broncos, who play the Minnesota Vikings later tonight.
It also puts Staley at 23-21 over his two-plus-year tenure in Los Angeles.
“I have full confidence in our way of playing,” said Staley in his post-game press conference. “I have full confidence in myself as the [defensive] play-caller, and in the way that we teach, and the way that we scheme. Full confidence in that. We gotta bring this group together in the way that we do it consistently.”
Staley also bristled at the notion that he would turnover defensive play-calling duties.
“You can stop asking that question [whether he would turn over play-calling duties,” declared Staley. “I’m going to be calling the defenses, so we’re clear. So you don’t have to ask that again.”
The head coach also bristled at the notion that he needed to somehow instill confidence in the fan base.
“I’m not here to talk to the fan base,” said Staley. “I’m here to talk to my players, the locker room, I know that we give ourselves a chance to win every single week with the game plans that we have. And we have done it here. You guys act like we don’t play good defense, and that’s not the truth. You act like we haven’t made any improvements. Today, in the run game, we played outstanding … what we gotta do a better job of is in the passing game. And that’s where our full attention is, and that’s where it will continue to be.
“There were a lot of other things that caused us to lose today,” Staley continued. “It certainly wasn’t our defense … we did this as a team. Stop making it about one unit … our team lost, and I am fully responsible for it.”
That last point is exactly where Staley is correct.
And it may cost him his job.