Chargers' Brandon Staley uses nuclear option: Staff reset will define his legacy

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Following the Chargers' loss in the NFL Playoffs to the Jacksonville Jaguars, it appeared as though Brandon Staley's job was never in true jeopardy. Tom Telesco kept his seat fairly easily as well. But in the process, several others on his coaching staff have been relieved of their duties.

The first two firings days after the Jaguars' loss were offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Shane Day. It seemed like the firings would be limited to those two at first. But since then, there's been quite a bit of movement:

Linebackers coach Michael Wilhoite was let go during the same week as the top two big offensive staff firings. He was then replaced by Cleveland's Jeff Howard, at which point the coaching staff turnover was thought to perhaps be complete.

Defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill then left for Miami to join Vic Fangio's staff as defensive pass game coordinator. While not technically fired from the Chargers by Staley, it seems perplexing and unlikely that Hill would voluntarily take a demotion. Call it a quiet firing if you'd like, but something obviously happened.

While the Chargers are still technically conducting interviews for the defensive coordinator job, it it suspected that they will promote secondary coach Derrick Ansley to Hill's old post. Tom Donatell, per reporting, will then be promoted from assistant to lead secondary coach.

During all of the coaching staff chaos that may or may not be done yet, the Chargers decided to fire Damon Mitchell, head athletic trainer of 24 years, on Thursday. With how Los Angeles struggled with injuries in 2022 plus Staley's new sports science department, it doesn't exactly come as a surprise firing. That being said, the Chargers were actually a Top 10 team in adjusted games lost and overall health during Staley's first year in 2021.

Aside from the offensive positional coaches sans quarterback and Ryan Ficken's special teams staff, there isn't a corner of the staff that escaped Staley's nuclear option to this point. We don't even know if he's done yet as teams across the league continue to make staff changes late into February.

These Chargers coaching changes will define Brandon Staley

But overall, it's been a very unusual offseason for the Chargers when considering their history. Under Telesco, they've never fired both coordinators while retaining the head coach and making several additional position coach alterations.

Staley and Telesco seem to know that it's now or never on making a significant playoff run in 2023. The scorched earth approach allows the Chargers to potentially upgrade their staff if they make the right calls for their hires. However, it also puts an immense amount of pressure on the both of them to win now. If Staley doesn't get a playoff win next year, neither he nor Telesco are going to be able to make a singular coordinator or staff change that saves their jobs.

To give Staley his credit, he's made the right call once before. Firing Derius Swinton and hiring Ficken as special teams coordinator resulted in an immensely positive benefit for the Chargers. They moved up 24 spots on Rick Gosselin's special teams rankings from year to year.

But Staley doesn't only have to bet that he got one or two staff changes correct. He has to bet his job on whether more than a handful of changes will work in conjunction with each other at the same time in 2023. That's not an enviable position to be in during a make-or-break year.

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A year from now, we'll know the results of Staley's mass changes on the coaching staff and whether or not they were for the better. But one thing is for certain now: his long-term legacy will be determined long before a ball gets kicked off in 2023. Getting this new coaching staff to gel over the course of the next six months will be critical to Staley and Telesco staying in LA.