The LA Chargers eked by the Cleveland Browns in Week 5 after Cade York missed a game-winning 54-yard field goal. Cleveland was in a position to win the game with a field goal after Brandon Staley made the gutsy call to go for it on fourth and two from Cleveland territory.
Staley has gained notoriety for being bold with his decision-making and to be fair, his aggressiveness has won the Chargers games they otherwise would have lost. In this situation, the Chargers were probably better off punting the ball away.
The Browns would have had less than a minute to drive around 50 yards to get into field goal range. Against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, it would make sense to play aggressively. Against a Browns team that could only really run the ball, the punt was probably the smarter move.
At the end of the day, the Chargers got the win and Staley sent a message of trust to his players. Instead of focusing on a potentially fatal call by Staley, fans can focus on the two bold decisions that Staley made that ended up having a big impact on the game's outcome.
Brandon Staley's 2 vindicated calls in the Chargers' Week 5 win over the Browns:
1. Starting Alohi Gilman over Nasir Adderley
Nasir Adderley has not been very good this season. Adderley has missed several of his coverage assignments and has not had the kind of season that he was hoping for after a promising 2021 campaign in Staley's defense.
Staley made the bold decision to start Alohi Gilman at safety alongside Derwin James instead of Adderley, who filled in as the sixth defensive back. This decision was not revealed to fans until right before the game as Gilman was warming up with the starters instead of Adderley.
And while Gilman was not amazing in this game all around, he did make the biggest play of the game, picking off Jacoby Brissett to keep the Browns from taking the lead late in the fourth quarter.
Sure, the interception was pretty much gift-wrapped to Gilman and the Chargers, but Gilman was still in the right place at the right time and made the play. Starting him has to be considered a success with him making this play.
2. Activating Christian Covington, calling a timeout to get him in the game
This is a decision that we have been critical of here at Bolt Beat. Otito Ogbonnia has played quite well and making him inactive in favor of Covington against the Texans was something that did not make a lot of sense.
Covington was okay against the Texans but it would have been nice to see the rookie play after he earned it. Staley doubled down with Covington again against a better running team in the Browns and he made one of the biggest defensive plays of the game.
Facing a fourth and one with a three-point lead in the third quarter, Staley called a timeout to get his personnel right for the fourth-down play. Covington was not on the field originally and was subbed on for Jerry Tillery. The Browns handed the ball to Kareem Hunt, who was stuffed by Covington for a loss of three on the play.
The Chargers drove down the field and ended up kicking a field goal after getting the turn over on downs. After heading into halftime with a 17-21 deficit, this was a huge defensive play to continue the momentum swing in favor of the Bolts.