The LA Chargers' 2023 season unofficially ended in Week 14 when the team lost to the Denver Broncos and lost Justin Herbert for the rest of the season due to a finger injury. Four days after that, the Chargers were beat-down in historic fashion, losing 63-21 to the Las Vegas Raiders. With the season unofficially over, the Chargers made the move to fire head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco.
Giff Smith was promoted to interim head coach and with Easton Stick as his quarterback Smith went 0-3 as the temporary captain of the ship. The Chargers played a close game in all three weeks but ultimately lost each game, which was a good thing in the grand scheme because of the 2024 NFL Draft.
While the win-loss results may not have been there, the Chargers looked like a team that was enjoying itself more than the previous weeks. That perception was not a mirage, as running back Joshua Kelley told reporters on Monday that the team was more unified in the final three weeks of the season under Smith.
Joshua Kelley confirms that Brandon Staley lost the Chargers locker room
Kelley didn't outright say that Brandon Staley lost the locker room but it does not take a rocket scientist to read between the lines. Saying that the team was more together in the three weeks under an interim head coach tells you everything you need to know about Staley.
When we look back at the 2023 season we will all remember a year of wasted potential. While the Chargers roster probably was not as great as touted before the season, it definitely had more talent than a typical 5-12 team.
However, because of bad injury luck and a really bad head coach, this season became a lost season. Now the Chargers are forced to hit the reset button and hope to hit a home run in the offseason. This team is not too far gone and with the right offseason, the Chargers can return to the playoffs in 2024.
That was never going to happen under Staley regardless of how good of a defense he called in specific games. As soon as you lose the locker room as a head coach it is over for you and that is exactly what happened to Staley.
If only the front office made the decision 11 months earlier after the Chargers blew a 27-0 lead to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL Playoffs. Maybe then the 2023 season could have been much different.