The LA Chargers lost an ugly, ugly game to the Denver Broncos in Week 12 that only made the path to the playoffs harder. The Chargers could have tied the Chiefs for the best record in the AFC West and would have been in control of their own destiny in winning the division.
Instead, the Chargers played an ugly game riddled with mistakes and lost to a Broncos team that should have had no business beating the Bolts by two touchdowns. While there is a lot to take away from this loss, it is safe to come to a conclusion about head coach Brandon Staley after the loss.
Staley has been overrated by Charger fans and we are definitely guilty of this as well. I am not going to sit here and pretend like I wasn't touting Staley as the savior of the LA Chargers. Staley was extremely impressive before the season and the Bolts started off red-hot with a 4-1 record. After suffering through the Anthony Lynn-era, it was easy to fall quickly in love with Staley as a Chargers fan.
And before diving into the reasoning on why Staley is overrated, I have to say this. Brandon Staley is not a bad head coach. He can be overrated and still be a good head coach and the fact of the matter is that he has only coached 11 games and there is still plenty of time to leave his mark on this franchise. This is by no means us giving up on Staley or expecting him to fail. It is simply acknowledging that we got ahead of ourselves and overestimated what a first-year head coach can do.
Why LA Chargers head coach Brandon Staley has been overrated:
There are multiple things that shine a negative light on Staley's coaching and while the players obviously deserve blame as well, it is impossible to abstain from blaming Staley. The issues at hand are tackling, penalties and player personnel choices.
The Chargers have been a horrible tackling team all season and it has made the defense worse. The Bolts allow the most plays per defensive possession in the league and part of the reason is the team's inability to wrap up, constantly letting teams chip away and get more yards than they should. Yes, the players must tackle better, but who is the one that is preaching the tackling identity of the team? Staley. While the defense had its issues last season, it has somehow gotten worse this season despite better play from Kyzir White and Nasir Adderley and getting both Derwin James and Drue Tranquill back.
The penalties have been awful and the team continued to commit dumb penalties against the Broncos. The Chargers rank eighth in penalties per game and committed nine penalties for 75 yards in this game.
Finally, and perhaps the most telling thing in this argument, is Staley's personnel decisions. Many want to blame Tom Telesco and it is fine to blame Telesco for the depth. However, the personnel decisions that Staley has made has been pretty bad all season. He has decided to carry three quarterbacks, four running backs, four tight ends and a litany of other questionable roster decisions.
More importantly, Staley isn't making adjustments. Jerry Tillery has been bad all season and missed Week 11 and the Chargers' interior defensive line had its best game of the season. Tillery was back off the covid-19 list and played most of the game. Why? Breiden Fehoko had an exceptional game against Pittsburgh and was M.I.A in this game. Tevaughn Campbell has been struggling yet is near the top of the team in snap counts. I get that he has to play what he has but there are adjustments that can be made.
Staley's game management decisions are great and he has brought a new culture to this team. We all should have expected there to be bumps along the way for a first-year head coach. Fans were too quick to crown Staley as the savior of the franchise after the 4-1 start.
The fact of the matter is that this team is not being coached well right now. That doesn't mean Brandon Staley is a bad head coach, or that he can't figure it out, but it is clear that he has some roadblocks to overcome that we did not anticipate.