The Chargers hired Brandon Staley about a month ago as their new head coach. He was their SoFi Stadium brethren the Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator for one season. They had the number one ranked defense in the NFL.
Staley has spoken to the media twice that lasted a combined 2 hours and 20 minutes. I decided to speak to Rams reporter Eric D. Williams ask him his thoughts on the former defensive coordinator and what he brings to the Chargers.
Last season was your first season covering the LA Rams and it was Brandon Staley’s first season as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. What were your expectations heading into the season for him and the defense?
Williams: Anytime someone is replacing a legendary defensive coordinator like Wade Phillips, naturally there are reservations. However, Staley came highly recommended from his time as an outside linebackers coach under defensive guru Vic Fangio, so I was interested in what kind of tweaks he would make to L.A.’s defense. I was pleasantly surprised watching the first-team defense practice against the first-team offense during training camp. They played fast, physical and communicated well. Even in those early practices Staley’s defense gave L.A.’s first-team offense fits. So, that was a pretty good indicator of Staley’s ability to communicate and coach his vision for his defense.
What do you think sets Staley apart as a defensive mind?
Williams: A couple things stick out. He’s a great communicator who clearly articulates what he wants and how he wants it done for his players. He gives his players confidence and trust to do the things he believes they can accomplish on the field. And he has the ability to adapt his defense each week to the specific things for the opposing offense that his defense will face, and then does an excellent job of making halftime adjustments based on what’s happening in the game. The Rams allowed an average of just seven points a contest in the second half of games during the regular season last year.
Being a former Chargers reporter, which players do you believe can benefit on the defensive side of the football?
Williams: Derwin James and Joey Bosa should benefit greatly from the addition of Staley. Jalen Ramsey had his best year as a pro playing for Staley because he moved him all over the field, taking advantage of the Florida State product’s unique skill set. And Staley did the same thing on the defensive line with Aaron Donald, moving him around and looking for mismatches up front. He likely will take a similar approach with James and Bosa, using them as chess pieces on the field and forcing offenses to find those dynamic players.
What do you think Staley brings to the Chargers organization?
Williams: He’s detail-oriented, charismatic and has a clear vision for what he wants to happen for his team. He’s a young coach, so there will be a new energy that he’ll bring to the field. And Staley’s a coach that focuses on what players can do well, not so much on what they can’t do. He will put players in positions to succeed in the things that they do best.
What were your thoughts about Jalen Ramsey’s message about Staley?
Williams: Ramsey said that Staley’s a genius and one of the smartest coaches he’s ever played for. I think that speaks to Staley’s ability to earn the trust of the best players on the team. His ability to earn Ramsey and Donald’s trust allowed them both to have success on the field, and for the Rams to develop into the No. 1-ranked defense in football last season. The NFL is a players’ league. If Staley can replicate that same ability to earn players’ trust with the Chargers, including quarterback Justin Herbert, he’ll have an opportunity to create a winning culture. However, transitioning from being a leader of a defense to a leader of an entire team takes time. There will be growing pains, so fans should be patient with Staley as he works to implement his culture and belief system with GM Tom Telesco and the Chargers.