LA Chargers head coach Brandon Staley is undoubtedly one of the most polarizing head coaches in the league. Being an NFL head coach is already a polarizing job and with the two years Staley has had he has certainly made some detractors.
Staley's brash decision-making on fourth downs earned him the "fourth and Staley" moniker in his rookie season. The rookie head coach both won and lost some games because of his aggressive decision-making, which he learned from and turned down in his second season.
In that second season, Staley led an extremely banged-up Chargers team to 10 wins and a playoff berth. Yet his stock still took a hit as the team then proceeded to blow a 27-0 lead to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Staley has more detractors than fans heading into this third season, which is undoubtedly a "prove it" year for both he and Tom Telesco. Some of those detractors are in the NFL family.
An anonymous NFC executive slammed Staley as "a bad head coach with a good roster", per FanBuzz's Matt Lombardo. It went deeper than just that, though, as the random executive made sure to bury Staley completely in the process.
"The Chargers would be a situation to watch. They're cheap, so I don't think they want to actually fire him, and he's a really nice guy. But, Brandon Staley is a really bad coach with a great roster. They just paid that quarterback, and if they don't win now, Justin Herbert isn't getting any younger. It blows my mind that they don't win. If Jerry Jones had Justin Herbert, that head coach would have been fired two years ago. Guaranteed."
It is worth noting that two years ago Brandon Staley had zero games coached, so it seems a bit absurd to say that Jerry Jones would have fired the head coach that he literally just hired before he got a chance to coach.
Burying Chargers' Brandon Staley in this way is unfair
Does Staley have his faults? Absolutely. If the Chargers come out and lay an egg in 2023 then there is no doubt that it will be his last year as the head coach of the team. Staley doesn't deserve a resounding defense from Chargers fans, but he does not deserve to be buried in this way.
The fact of the matter is that Staley has a winning record as a head coach with a playoff appearance in his first two years. Does he have a great roster with an elite quarterback? Absolutely, and that certainly helps. But not many head coaches are able to turn in a winning record and a playoff berth in the first two years. Just look at how much of a disaster the 2020 season was one year before Staley was in town.
The whole "Chargers are cheap and Jerry Jones would have fired him already" take is absurd as well. Mike McCarthy had an 18-15 record in his first two years as the head coach of the Cowboys with one playoff appearance and a loss in the first round. Staley's lifetime record is 19-16 with one playoff appearance and a loss in the first round. Weird how similar that is. It took Jason Garrett five seasons to make the playoffs with Dallas and Jones kept him around.
Would the Chargers have been better off if the team hired Brian Daboll back in 2021? Perhaps. But the book is still being written on Staley's career as a head coach and many are acting like it is already slammed shut.