Chargers Must Fire Brandon Staley Now After Embarrassing Failure Against Raiders

Chargers head coach Brandon Staley

Chargers head coach Brandon StaleySean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Thursday night’s AFC West showdown between the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders was one of the most lopsided NFL games we’ve seen in some time. Both teams came into the contest at 5-8 and with little hope of reentering the postseason race.

The Raiders found reasons to compete. The Chargers did not. The juxtaposition between the two performances during L.A.’s 63-21 loss is enough for the Chargers to move on from head coach Brandon Staley immediately.

Editor’s Note: The Chargers fired Staley and GM Tom Telesco Friday after Thursday’s loss to the Raiders.

Staley, the defensive guru plucked from the Los Angeles Rams in 2021, was already on the hot seat early in the season. His defenses haven’t been good enough, his in-game decision-making has been questionable at best, his staff has struggled to scheme up a functional running game, and L.A. has largely wasted the early stages of Justin Herbert’s promising career.

Coming into Thursday, the Chargers ranked 29th in total defense, 27th in yards per rush, 17th in points allowed per game and 16th in points scored per game.

To make matters worse, Los Angeles lost Herbert for the season this week when he underwent surgery on his fractured right index finger.

Despite all of that, this loss represents the low-water mark of Staley’s tenure.

No, the Chargers didn’t enter Thursday with a lot of confidence or many reasons to play hard. Neither did the Raiders, who are in a similar position and who already fired their head coach, Josh McDaniels, after Week 8.

Las Vegas’ biggest motivator was a chance to play for interim coach Antonio Pierce’s job. And make no mistake, players on Las Vegas’ roster would love to keep playing for a coach who connects with and understands his players.

“You want to play for somebody like that because you know he’s got your back,” Raiders pass-rusher Maxx Crosby told the Raiders’ official media department (h/t ProFootballTalk’s Michael David Smith).

If there was any doubt about the Las Vegas players’ willingness to fight for their head coach—Las Vegas did lose a 3-0 game in Week 14—they silenced them on Thursday. The Raiders presented unquestionably their strongest effort of the season against the rival Chargers.

Las Vegas was up 42-0 at halftime. It continued to keep an aggressive mentality in the second half. The Chargers didn’t have any sense of effort. From the opening kickoff to the final whistle, players seemed uninterested in even being there.

Los Angeles let Brandon Bolden, who didn’t have a carry this season before Thursday, run untouched for a touchdown.

Las Vegas Raiders @Raiders


The Chargers let wide receiver Jakobi Meyers throw a touchdown pass.

Mike Kadlick @mikekadlick

That’s Jakobi Meyers’ first touchdown pass as a Raider.

He had two during his time with the #Patriots.

They let quarterback Aidan O’Connell—who wasn’t even guaranteed to start in Week 15 for performance reasons—throw four touchdown passes to three different players.

A Chargers defense that sacked O’Connell seven times in the first meeting got to him only once on Thursday—even though Raiders left tackle Kolton Miller and center Andre James were both inactive.

Things weren’t any better on offense, where quarterback Easton Stick was repeatedly pressured. When one of Las Vegas’ sacks yielded a fumble, the Chargers barely made an attempt to locate the ball or stop defensive tackle John Jenkins from rumbling to the end zone.


John Jenkins went turbo mode ⛽️ #LACvsLV on Prime Video
Also available on #NFLPlus

The lone bright spot for the Chargers came when wideout Joshua Palmer blew by a busted coverage for a 79-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Not even Los Angeles’ social-media team could get fired up about that one.

Los Angeles Chargers @chargers

we scored.

This was more than a loss for the Chargers. This was a soul-crushing embarrassment on almost every front. The 63 points Las Vegas scored represent the most points ever allowed in the 64-year history of the Chargers.

Injuries? A lot of teams have them at this point in the season. The absences of Herbert and No. 1 receiver Keenan Allen weren’t responsible for this. Pride? The Chargers rarely seemed to be playing with any, even against a hated division rival.

The harsh reality is that Los Angeles wasn’t even close to prepared for the Raiders, something Staley openly admitted to Thursday Night Football sideline reporter Kaylee Hartung at halftime.

A lack of preparation is unacceptable in any job, at any level. It should be the breaking point for franchise chairman Dean Spanos. Either Staley has lost the respect of the locker room, or he simply no longer cares. Regardless, Staley needs to go, posthaste.

Kris Rhim @krisrhim1

After losing to the the Ravens in Week 12, Chargers coach Brandon Staley said that the Chargers would be getting “blown out of the stadium” if his messaging had stopped coming across to players.

The Raiders lead 35-0 with 2:00 left in the second quarter.

There are multiple reasons to fire Staley before the rest of Week 15 even gets underway. For one, it would give Los Angeles a head start on the next hiring cycle. The Chargers need to find someone who can field a functional defense, properly support his franchise quarterback and turn the team into a playoff-relevant AFC West threat.

Staley, who inherited a 7-9 squad and has gone 24-24 since, is not that coach.

Secondly, the Chargers need to do exactly what the Raiders currently are. They need to determine which players and coaches are worth keeping around for the next regime. They need to learn which players are willing to give their all, even when times are tough—because a quick turnaround may not be coming.

General manager Tom Telesco, who isn’t blameless in all of this, has struggled to build a complete roster. Players like Austin Ekeler and Gerald Everett are set to be free agents. Los Angeles is projected to be $45.1 million over the salary cap next season. Even if the Chargers have the most important piece in Herbert, some amount of rebuilding is due.

Staley, who has failed the Chargers all season and had his biggest failure on Thursday night, isn’t the right coach to oversee the overhaul.

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