The Chargers have hired Brandon Staley as their 17th head coach in team history. He was the Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator for one season. He was with Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio in 2019 and Chicago for two seasons as the outside linebackers coach from 2017-2018.
Staley is 38 years old and is about to be a head coach for the first time in his young coaching career. Here is his chance.
The young head coach must’ve had a great sales pitch because many experts believed that the Chargers brass would hire an offensive coordinator because of their quarterback Justin Herbert.
Now the question truly lines is what kind of a team is Staley inheriting?
Well, it is a 7-9 team that blew four big leads, so they could have been 11-5. So, let’s call it a 7-9 team with talent. As previously mentioned, he has a quarterback, which is hard to find in this league. Just ask the New York Jets, who are still trying to find a successor to “Broadway” Joe Namath.
Herbert completed 66.6 percent of his passes last season, had 36 total touchdowns, and threw ten interceptions. Staley hired Joe Lombardi from the New Orleans Saints to be his offensive coordinator. They are hoping Lombardi can take Herberts game to the next level.
General manager Tom Telesco told the media two weeks ago that if a non-offensive minded candidate were to get the job, they must “wow” them with their offensive game plan for Herbert. This means Staley did just that.
The offense features one of the best receivers in the NFL in Keenan Allen, who caught 100 passes for 992 yards and tied his career-best eight touchdowns. On the other side, Mike Williams is a big-bodied receiver who can go up and make almost any catch. The former Tiger had 48 catches for 756 yards and five touchdowns. Running back Austin Ekeler is also a big part of the offense, with 170 total touches for 933 yards and three touchdowns. Ekeler missed six games with a hamstring injury.
Here are the two question marks when it comes to the offense. What are they going to do to improve the offensive line? Also, will tight end Hunter Henry be re-signed, or are they in the market for a tight end?
Now on the defensive side, with the Rams last season Staley had the best defense when it comes to total yards (281.9), passing yards (190.7), and scoring (18.5). They were third in rushing, giving up 91.3 yards a game.
This is what he has with the Chargers defense tenth in total yards (343.4), ninth in passing yards (223.6), 18th against the run (119.8), 23rd in scoring (26.6).
He has some work to do.
His defense does feature defensive end Joey Bosa, who had 7.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss despite a lot of nagging injuries. He also has a returning safety in Derwin James, who was injured last season. James can do it all on the defensive side of the football, line up anywhere, cover anyone, and even rush the passer.
Bosa and James could be the two building pieces that Staley has similar to Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey with the Rams.
The defense also features linebacker Kenneth Murray, who had ups and downs in his rookie year but ended it on a high note. Murray will now have a full offseason to get ready for his sophomore season. He also has linebacker Drue Tranquill returning from injury, and the converted safety can also cover a lot of different positions on the field. The secondary features cornerback Casey Hayward and Chris Harris Jr., who are both leaders of this defense.
The two biggest questions with the defense are whether the team will try to re-sign cornerback Michael Davis and safety Rayshawn Jenkins? How will Joey Bosa’s role change if Staley moves the defense to a 3-4 instead of the 4-3?
Now for the worst part of the Chargers team; special teams. Statistically, the Chargers were one of the worst special teams in the NFL last season. They gave up almost everything except a kickoff return for a touchdown. Telesco said he needs to be better at filling out the special teams.
Staley hired Derius Swinton as his special teams coach. Swinton needs to change it up because some of the losses they had last season were due to special teams errors. They will need a better performance from that area if they are to succeed in 2021.
The two questions for the special teams are will the team bring back kicker Michael Badgley, who missed 12 kicks last season, and punter Ty Long who had some pretty bad numbers last season? Plus, what is Telesco’s plan to address the errors?
This is the team that Brandon Staley is inheriting, so he does have a lot of work to do, but from what a lot of experts are saying is he doesn’t shy away from the hard work.
“It’s not just that Brandon possesses a tremendous football mind that makes him the ideal Head Coach to lead our team forward,” said Telesco in a press release. “It’s that he excels in the ability to effectively tailor, apply, and communicate his concepts to players. It’s clear that Brandon will not be out-worked, he’s the football equivalent of a gym rat, and that has earned him the universal respect of the players he has coached throughout his journey.”