Youth has always been a huge currency in the City of Angels, so it’s no surprise to see that the Los Angeles Chargers hired 38-year old Brandon Staley as the team’s next head coach.
Instead of hiring a top-notch offensively-minded coach to mentor young quarterback Justin Herbert, the Chargers opted for a defensive coordinator with zero head-coaching experience. The 2020 season with the LA Rams marked his first season with defensive coordinator duties. Staley has only logged four total seasons in the NFL coaching ranks.
“While this is certainly a dream come true, it’s also a dream that’s just beginning,” said Staley via a statement. “By the time everyone is reading this quote in a press release, we’ll already be hard at work developing a program Chargers fans everywhere can be proud of.”
The NFL is a copycat league. The current trend is to poach coaches on Sean McVay’s staff (e.g., Matt LaFleur at Green Bay and Zac Taylor at Cincinnati). McVay is the current wunderkind in the NFL coaching ranks and he tends to hire young, energetic, and hyper-intelligent coaches who have a nerd-like approach and savant-level skills.
“Brandon possesses a tremendous football mind that makes him the ideal head coach to lead our team forward,” said general manager Tom Telesco. “He excels in the ability to effectively tailor, apply, and communicate his concepts to players. Brandon will not be outworked. He’s the football equivalent of a gym rat, and that has earned him the universal respect of the players he has coached throughout his journey.”
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) January 18, 2021
Lynn Reign Over After 4 Seasons
The Chargers recently parted way with head coach Anthony Lynn after four seasons. Lynn went 33-31, but could never get the Chargers over the hump in the playoffs.
In Lynn’s first year with the Chargers in 2017, they bubbled the playoffs with a 9-7 record. In 2018, Lynn guided the Chargers to a 12-4 record. They won a wild-card game, but the New England Patriots knocked them out of the divisional round. That was the last time the Chargers qualified for the postseason.
In 2019, the Chargers struggled with a 5-11 record. Despite losing Philip Rivers to free agency, the Chargers went 7-9 in 2020, which isn’t that bad considering their tough schedule and the fact they had a rookie starting from Week 2. At least Brandon Staley inherits an extremely talented offensive duo with Herbert at QB and star WR Keenan Allen, the best offensive weapon on the Chargers the past few seasons.
Chargers Hire a DC and Not an OC
Herbert, the #6 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, has the inside track to winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year. With an outstanding young quarterback in the wings, the Chargers’ job looked like an ideal place for a top offensive coordinator to take over as head coach. When the season ended, the names of top OCs like Eric Bieniemy, Arthur Smith, and Bruce Daboll were on the shortlist of potential candidates.
At the end of last week, there were numerous rumors that Daboll would leave the Buffalo Bills to coach the Chargers. However, Daboll insisted he would stick around Buffalo for another season. And why wouldn’t he, with an offense anchored by Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs? The Bills are still alive in the hunt for the Super Bowl. They will meet the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game this coming weekend.
Last week, two teams made coaching changes. The Atlanta Falcons hired Art Smith, the OC of the Tennessee Titans while the New York Jets hired Robert Saleh, the DC of the San Fransico 49ers, to replace Adam Gase.
Chargers Stuck with LA Second-Team Syndrome
Staley faces a huge challenge in overcoming the second-team (aka, the little brother syndrome) in LA. Any time a major city has multiple pro teams in the same sport, one of the team struggles with identity issues. This continues to be the case with the LA Lakers and LA Clippers, and the LA Dodgers and “LA Angels of Anaheim.”
The Chargers will forever be cast in the shadows of the LA Rams, a team with whom they share a home field at SoFi Stadium. Los Angeles went from a city that had zero pro football teams to Tinsel Town with two NFL teams. At least with the Rams, the locals had some familiarity, as the team played in LA before moving to St. Louis in 1994. After 21 seasons in STL, the Rams moved back to LA.
The Chargers struggled to retain fans when they migrated from San Diego to LA. The franchise also struggled to attract new fans in the greater LA area, because the Rams already had a previous fan base and a head start on the Chargers, who didn’t leave San Diego until 2017.
The Chargers also play in the same conference with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s a possibility that Staley and the Chargers won’t win a division title over the next decade if Mahomes remains healthy and Kansas City continues their domination of the AFC West.