The NFL is a result-oriented business, so nobody batted an eye when the Los Angeles Chargers parted ways with general manager Tom Telesco and head coach Brandon Staley after the embarrassing 63-21 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. This wasn't an isolated incident though but rather the straw that broke the camel's back. Looking back, the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2022 Wild Card Round of the playoffs was arguably the beginning of Staley's unraveling as the head coach.
In that game, Los Angeles had the Jags against the ropes in the second quarter. Up 27-0, it looked like they had subdued Jacksonville but they were wrong. The Jaguars fought back and rallied from behind to win 31-27. While the offense deserves blame for not being able to keep putting points on the scoreboard, the defense deserves equal blame for letting Jacksonville crawl back, which shouldn't have happened when you take into account that that's Staley's area of expertise.
Staley earned his reputation as a defensive guru, progressively moving up the coaching ranks until he became the defense coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams in 2020. A successful year at the position helped him get the head coaching gig with the Chargers in 2021. However, they routinely fielded some of the worst defenses in the NFL, ranking 29th, 21st, and 27th the past three years.
In retrospect, the meltdown against the Jaguars should've been a sign Staley was ill-equipped to be the head coach. Leaving aside his inability to fix the defense, his penchant for making questionable decisions during his tenure played a role in his downfall. Make no mistake, he was a heck of a defensive coordinator for the Rams but that doesn't mean he had what it takes to be a head coach.
Having said that, Staley alone isn't to be blamed for the Chargers' struggles. This is why general manager Tom Telesco was also relieved of his duties. Having been hired in 2013, Telesco failed to adequately replenish the roster in recent years. He certainly had his share of hits, such as Justin Herbert and safety Darwin James, but his misses were simply too many. This year alone, Los Angeles drafted wide receiver Quentin Johnston, who's been underwhelming so far. Similarly, pricey free agent J.C. Jackson was a non-factor and was eventually released, putting on display Telesco's inability to acquire talent.
The Jaguars faced the Bolts twice during Staley's tenure as the head coach. First in Week 3 of the 2022 season and later in the playoffs the same year. Jacksonville won both encounters.
The Chargers had no option but to move on from Brandon Staley
By moving on from Tom Telesco and Brandon Staley, the Chargers can get a head start in the search for their replacements. As owner Dean Spanos noted in a statement, keeping both of them around for the sake of continuity wasn't productive, so he did the reasonable thing.
The Chargers don't want to waste Justin Herbert's prime, so they'll probably looking to pair him up with someone who can squeeze every single ounce of talent he has and can make him play like the top 5 quarterback he is. Ben Johnson (Detroit Lions), and Shane Waldron (Seattle Seahawks) are two names to watch.
The Jaguars should be thrilled that they went undefeated against Staley's Chargers. On the other hand, they should embrace the possibility of having to eventually face an improved Los Angeles team with a healthy Justin Herbert and a new head coach at the helm.