The Los Angeles Chargers received a lot of praise in 2021 when they hired Brandon Staley as their head coach. While he was only a defensive coordinator for one season with the Los Angeles Rams, many believed Staley could accomplish great things. It appears the hype got to Staley and played a role in the Chargers’ downfall.
As the Rams’ defensive coordinator, Staley helped orchestrate one of the best defenses in the NFL. While he greatly benefitted from running a system with two future Hall of Famers (Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey), many around the NFL believed that Staley was one of the league’s brightest minds.
- Brandon Staley coaching record: 24-24 with Los Angeles Chargers, 0-1 in playoffs
As Dianna Russini of the Athletic wrote, many NFL owners believed Staley could be the “defensive Sean McVay.”. While he drew interest from several teams, Staley chose the Chargers and everyone expected the team to take off behind Staley’s defense with Justin Herbert leading the offense.
However, the team struggled from the start and the Chargers’ defense progressively worsened across three seasons. While Staley didn’t lose the locker room completely after the historic playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, it soon became apparent midway through this season that players were ready for the team to make a change.
Being a player-friendly coach with support around the league is sometimes one way for a head coach to stick around a little longer. One thing that has become clear in the reporting since Staley’s firing is that he didn’t have that well-regarded reputation around the NFL.
Russini noted that even before he became an NFL head coach, Staley was “never known for exuding a lot of humility” to anyone. He came off as cocky to reporters and despite many around the NFL believing he was underperforming, Staley seemingly didn’t believe he was at fault.
The more telling revelations came from Daniel Popper of The Athletic. The Chargers’ reporter wrote in-depth on Staley’s demise as Los Angeles, with the former head coach described as “too smart for his own good” by one anonymous team source.
“I know we give ourselves a chance to win every single week with the game plans that we have.”Brandon Staley following a loss to the Green Bay Packers
People inside the Chargers’ organization told Popper that far too often, Staley crossed the line from confidence to arrogance. Staley also made the call to hire offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, a decision that never improved the Chargers’ offense.
While Staley’s NFL career isn’t over, he will have to do a lot of work to improve his reputation as both a defensive-minded coach and a leader. There’s a chance he’ll be a defensive coordinator in 2024, however, Staley will more than likely either need to take a year off from coaching or serve as a positions coach. As for the Chargers’ coaching search, it’s fair to assume the franchise will seek better leadership qualities.