The LA Chargers fell to 2-4 on the season with the biggest loss of the season so far to the Kansas City Chiefs. The main takeaway after the game was Brandon Staley's disconnect with his defense as Staley said one thing and his entire team said another thing about the team's defensive game plan.
But that was not the only place where there was disconnect. Star running back Austin Ekeler was interviewed after the game and clearly seemed to be out on Staley. When asked if he had faith in Staley, Ekeler blurted out that he "had no other choice" before realizing what he said and crafting a more professional answer around it.
This clip naturally went viral and became a legitimate talking point around the Chargers. Ekeler was asked about the clip on Tuesday and was given a chance to walk it back, or clarify what he meant to say.
That isn't exactly what Ekeler did. While he didn't outright bash Staley, he certainly did not walk back what he said after Week 7 and is seemingly doubling down on letting the media (and fans) know how he feels about the head coach, via NFL Network's Bridget Condon:
""I think the clip got taken out of context...it doesn't matter how I feel like what matters is I have to go out and do my job. It's my job to go play well, and then that will in tune, make Staley look even better. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how I feel about it. I don't give a damn about how I feel. I'm not spending one ounce of my energy thinking about how I feel because it doesn't matter. What matters is I have to go execute. And if I don't feel like I did that at a high level, I can't think about anything besides that. And so that's where I'm coming from where it's like, how do you feel about Staley? I don't have an opinion about that. Because I gotta make sure I do my job first.""
Chargers' Austin Ekeler seemingly doubles down on being out on Brandon Staley
Ekeler's quote says a lot about how he feels, even if he is trying to reiterate that it does not matter how he feels. Ekeler says the clip was taken out of context but does not offer any kind of rebuttal to what he said. If anything, he is just doubling down on what he previously said.
Someone who believes in their head coach (or at least doesn't want the media to know he doesn't believe in him) would have clarified his comments and would have reiterated that he does indeed believe in Staley leading this team moving forward. That is not what Ekeler did here.
Instead, Ekeler opted to say that he has "no opinion" on how he feels about Staley, and if he did, it would not even matter because he is only concerned with going out and doing his job. We know Ekeler is worried about playing at a high level for his next contract, but this is a pretty damning quote for Staley.
And this is where fans may see the wheels fall off. The Chargers historically do not fire coaches midseason, last doing so 25 years ago in 1998. That coach, Kevin Gilbride, was fired after six games because he lost the locker room. If Staley is losing the locker room now then the front office may have no choice but to pivot and give Kellen Moore a chance to salvage this season.
Based on how he has handled this situation, it is probably safe to say that Ekeler would prefer that route.