Just one day after the Rams season ended after losing to the Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs, the Los Angeles Chargers announced the hiring of Brandon Staley, the former defensive coordinator of the Rams, as their head coach. This comes as a surprise to many as just a few days ago, Brian Daboll was reported on many outlets as the huge favorite to land the job and as soon as the Bills’ season ended, it would be announced. Now that we know who the next coach of the Chargers is, let’s dive into potential candidates to round out the coordinator staff as well as the hire as a whole.
A Deeper Look Into The Hire Of Brandon Staley
Prior to his stint with the Rams, Coach Staley served as a linebackers coach for both the Broncos and the Bears. What he did with the Rams defense in just one year was nothing short of remarkable which is why he was able to get one of the premier head coaching jobs available in such short order.
While many people may be worried about his lack of coordinator experience, just look at a number of coaches in the NFL. Mike Vrabel was a DC for just one year of the Texans before being hired as a head coach of the Titans. Brian Flores only spent one year actually calling defensive plays as the true DC of the Patriots before taking over the Dolphins where he has changed things immensely. While this doesn’t guarantee anything, it puts the having years and years of experience to succeed as a requirement notion to rest.
Now let’s look at his actual body of work. In 2019, the Rams defense gave up on average 339.6 yards per game which was 13th in the league, this year the Rams allowed the fewest yards per game at 281.9. That’s a whole 48 yards less per game which can almost be equated to one less possession for the defense. To a team that has lost many games by just one score and blown numerous leads, that could immediately flip the script on that narrative.
The Rams also had the best passing defense in the league at 190.7 yards per game, last year they were 12th at 226.6. Rushing defense wise they were 3rd in the league at 91.3 ypg, up from 2019 where they were 19th allowing 113.1 ypg.
The Rams also had the best scoring defense in the league allowing just 18.5 ppg, the Chargers were 23rd allowing 26.6 ppg, just about one TD worth more a game. All across the board, the Rams became a significantly better defensive team. Not only did they get better, but by almost every mark, were the best defensive team in the NFL which was a huge reason for their success this season while their offense took a major step back.
One of the biggest things that stands out about Staley and his work with the Rams defense was how historically efficient and dominant they were in the 2nd half of games. The entire season, the Rams defense allowed just nine 2nd half touchdowns. To put that into comparison, in the same season the Chargers defense surrendered 24 touchdowns. On average, the Chargers defense was giving up one more TD per half than the Rams defense was, and there’s a good chance that rang a bell for GM Tom Telesco. The Chargers were notorious for blowing so many leads in the 2nd half and losing so many one-possession games. This hire is a great step in the right direction to get rid of that issue.
A team with stars on the defense such as Joey Bosa and Derwin James when healthy, should definitely be able to show out a defense of dominance the Rams displayed with Staley’s touch. Brandon Staley has worked with numerous stars on the defensive side in his career such as Jalen Ramsey, Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Khalil Mack, and has had immense success which he should be able to translate here.
Many Chargers fans likely wanted the hire of Brian Daboll, the OC of the Bills primarily due to his success on the offensive side of things with Josh Allen. This poses the question of how will this hire help in Justin Herbert’s development which will be critical in the success of the team. It is reported that Staley had a great plan in place for the offense and Justin Herbert.
On the offensive side of things, there is a great possibility that the Chargers retain Shane Steichen or they may promote QBs coach Pep Hamilton to take over. He was critical in the success of Herbert this year and knows the QB’s skill set as very few do.
On the defensive side of things, it is likely Staley brings over someone from the Rams due to familiarity. Some other potential options include Colts DB coach Jonathan Gannon who has already been listed as a potential candidate. Another option could be Matt Patricia who could be looking to fix his reputation at what was no short of a disaster in Detroit. Similar to how the Chargers gave Gus Bradley an opportunity to get his swagger back following his stint with the Jaguars, this could be another great option. Although you would have to think Staley being a defensive-minded coach, he’d want someone with a similar philosophy to his.
While Staley wasn’t the hire most people thought it would be, this is definitely one that Chargers fans should be excited about. Only 38 years old, he has been dubbed the “defensive Sean McVay” and that new mindset and culture can help lead to great success and fix many of the 2nd half woes of the past few years.