The LA Chargers are 8-6 heading into Week 16 with a legitimate chance of clinching a playoff spot with two more weeks to play. Even if all the required results do not happen, a win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16 will give the team a 96% chance of making the playoffs, per The New York Times.
It is incredible the position the team is currently in compared to where they were two weeks ago. Needing a win against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Bolts turned in one of their ugliest games of the season, putting their backs against the wall for the final five games.
With two playoff opponents in the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans in back-to-back weeks, the loss to the Raiders appeared to be the dagger for the Chargers. But it wasn't. This team battled and came away with two huge wins to catapult into the sixth seed.
The mood in the fanbase has directly changed with the momentum switch for the Bolts. Two weeks ago (and prior to that) most Chargers fans on social media were calling for Brandon Staley's job with Sean Payton potentially waiting in the wings.
Brandon Staley deserves an apology from Chargers fans.
Don't get me wrong, I got caught up in the moment as well. While firing Staley never seemed like a legitimate possibility after the season (and we told you that even in the worst moments), we were absolutely hyper-critical of Staley and his coaching. This isn't a "told you so" moment. It is a "we were all wrong" moment.
This is a reminder that you cannot judge an entire season before it is over. Heck, the Chargers could fall flat and lose the last three games of the season and the conversation will shift again. That seems very unlikely with the direction of the team and the opponents they are playing but anything is possible.
Fans overreact. That is part of the beauty of being a sports fan. You watch your team lose an ugly game to a division rival in Week 13 and you think the entire season is over. But 12 weeks earlier, you watched the same team beat the same division rival in Week 1 and you swore this team was Super Bowl bound.
If the Chargers win and clinch a playoff spot in Week 16 it will be great vibes and high expectations on Twitter. If the Chargers lose, the same fans who questioned Staley all season will come back out of the woodwork. Heck, if the Chargers fall behind 7-0 in the first quarter people will probably be calling for Staley's job and calling this team fraudulent.
The fact of the matter is this; the Chargers have dealt with more injuries than any other team in the league. Most teams in the league would crumple with the injuries that the team has dealt with. And while it was far from perfect, the Bolts stayed afloat. They stayed in the picture long enough to get some momentum once the injury luck started to turn a corner.
That is a testament to the job Brandon Staley has done this season. Winning in the NFL is a really hard thing to do and it is even harder when nearly your entire roster has been decimated. When the 2022 season officially ends, we will all look back at the entire picture and realize what kind of coaching effort it took to keep this team from not only snowballing but being a playoff team.
Brandon Staley deserves an apology from every Chargers fan that called for him to be fired to hire Sean Payton. He has rightfully coached his way out of the hot seat and will continue to be the head coach of this football team for quite some time.