The 2023 season has been a struggle for the LA Chargers and the team somehow managed to find a new lowpoint on Sunday. Not only did the team get blown out by a division rival to put an end to LA's far-fetched playoff hopes, but quarterback Justin Herbert suffered an injury that kept him out of the second half.
Brandon Staley confirmed to reporters after the game that Herbert has a fractured index finger on his throwing hand. Herbert has already been ruled out for Thursday Night Football, and at this rate, it is best for the team if he doesn't return in 2023. There is no need to risk further injury, and maximizing the team's draft capital in 2024 should be the primary focus.
This feels like rock bottom for many Chargers fans, but it might get even worse. This injury not only killed any far-fetched dreams Chargers fans had this season, but it made a nightmare in 2024 much more likely.
Chargers firing Brandon Staley is less likely after Justin Herbert injury
Many fans have assumed that Brandon Staley would be fired if the Chargers did not make the playoffs this season and that still remains a very strong possibility. However, it might not be the guarantee that Chargers fans thought it was, especially after this injury.
First of all, history shows us that Staley already had a decent chance of returning in 2024. The Chargers have not fired a head coach before their fourth season in over 20 years. The Spanos family has been notoriously cheap with head coaches (hence why Staley was hired in the first place) and his contract is rumored to be for four years. Dean Spanos probably doesn't want to pay Staley next season to be a coach on another team.
With this injury, the Chargers now have a bigger built-in excuse to keep Staley. The fanbase won't by it, but ownership can definitely sell itself on the idea that this was simply a cursed season from the start. After all, the Chargers have suffered several huge injuries (Mike Williams, Joey Bosa, Corey Linsley, Joshua Palmer, now Justin Herbert) that did play a role in derailing the season.
In addition to that, the Chargers also lost several close games. Those are undoubtedly Staley's fault, but ownership can sell itself on the "randomness" of the NFL; that the Chargers were in most of these games despite the injuries.
Couple that with a defense that has actually played much better in recent weeks and it isn't hard to see ownership convincing itself to give Staley another chance. That doesn't make it the right move, but we all should know how this team operates at this point.
This is still the same organization that gave Mike McCoy a fourth season after he went 4-12. Let's not forget that in that 4-12 season the Chargers lost nine games by one possession. The Spanos family did mental gymnastics then, and after this Herbert injury, they may do them again with Brandon Staley.