All of the positive vibes surrounding the LA Chargers have been depleted. The team's first playoff berth since 2018 was meant to be a cause of celebration and hope for a new beginning and instead, it has become a source of massive scrutiny for head coach Brandon Staley.
Staley decided to not only play the team's starters in a meaningless Week 18 against the Denver Broncos but keep them in for an extended period of time. When you play with fire you are going to get burned and that is exactly what happened as Mike Williams suffered a needless back injury.
Williams did not practice at all leading up to Saturday's game but there was still a weird confidence in how Staley discussed the injury that made it seem like Williams was going to play. Nope. Less than 24 hours after being listed as questionable for Saturday's game, the Chargers downgraded Williams' status to OUT.
The Bolts will now be without perhaps their most important weapon on the offensive side of the football. In games in which Mike Williams played and did not get injured, the Chargers were 8-2. In games where Williams did not play or got hurt during the game they were 2-4. Yikes.
Update: According to new reports, Mike Williams suffered a fracture in his back that will sideline him for 2-3 weeks, at least through the AFC Championship Game.
Should Brandon Staley be fired if the Chargers lose without Mike Williams?
This is a tricky question. Most fans would say yes in a heartbeat. Staley already was not in good graces with the fanbase and having Williams get hurt in a pointless game is a really bad look. If the Chargers lose because of it is impossible to defend his decision-making.
Whether or not the fans want him to be fired does not matter. We have to examine how the Chargers have always operated under the Spanos family and with that history in mind, it is hard to see Staley getting the boot after making the playoffs.
Since Alex Spanos bought the team in 1984, there has only been one coach who did not get a third season with the team. Some coaches were fired during that third season, but only one was fired after two. That someone is Kevin Gilbride, who did not even make the end of his second season as he had a combined 6-16 record.
Staley has a 17-14 record and has made the playoffs. Thing of the several bad years with Mike McCoy and Anthony Lynn. Both coaches were still given four full years even when they did not deserve it. After seeing the team do that it is hard to imagine them firing Staley after two.
Plus, there is not a home-run replacement for Staley. Most fans would point to Sean Payton but that also goes against everything the Chargers have always done. It would be legitimately groundbreaking if the Chargers were willing to trade a first-round pick, pay Payton $15-20 million AND give him control of the roster. That has never been how the team operates.
So while Brandon Staley's seat looks scorching hot from the outside, it doesn't seem like the Chargers will do anything about it. Perhaps they shift the narrative. Hopefully, the team wins so there isn't even a discussion.