Chargers Hire Brandon Staley to Lead Team into a New Era
January 21, 2021
At the end of the 2020 regular season, there was only one certainty for the Chargers. They had their franchise quarterback. Everything else was uncertain, including the status of their head coach, Anthony Lynn. That uncertainty was resolved less than 24 hours later, when the Chargers fired Lynn with one year left on his contract after a second consecutive losing season.
Exactly two weeks after the Chargers final game, the question of who would replace Lynn was finally answered when the team announced that they had hired Brandon Staley, the defensive coordinator in 2020 for the Los Angeles Rams, as the next Head Coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. Staley will become the 17th Chargers head coach in franchise history.
"It's not just that Brandon possesses a tremendous football mind that makes him the ideal Head Coach to lead our team forward," said General Manager Tom Telesco. "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."
Telesco, who played wide receiver at John Carroll University in Ohio, is a 1995 graduate of the school. Staley was a defensive coordinator at John Carroll University in 2013 and 2015-2016. His head coach was Tom Arth, who was also a record setting quarterback at John Carroll and a 2003 graduate of the university. Arth was a backup quarterback with the Indianapolis Colts from 2003 through 2005, playing behind Peyton Manning. The Director of Pro Scouting for the Colts at that time was Telesco.
The John Carroll connection certainly played a part in the hiring of Brandon Staley and it may not be over yet. It is being reported that the Chargers are interested in adding Arth to Staley's coaching staff. Arth is the current head coach at Akron University.
Staley played his college football at Dayton University, starting two years at quarterback and leading the team to a 16-5 record over the two-year period. Staley turned 38 in December and has been an NFL coach for four seasons. He was hired as an outside linebacker's coach with the Chicago Bears and spent the 2017-2018 seasons coaching under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. When Fangio was hired as the Denver Broncos head coach, he brought Staley along with him to again coach the outside linebackers.
It was his experience with Fangio that really sold Rams head coach Sean McVay on hiring Staley to run the defense, who stated at his press conference for Staley last February, "There's some similar people that I really hold in high regard when they give you an opinion on somebody. Vic (Fangio, Denver's head coach) is a coach that I really respect and hold in high regard. When you listen to the things he says about Brandon Staley, when you listen to the people that I've come in close contact with that have been around him, when you look at the background, it's impressive. You can feel the passion."
McVay, who has earned a reputation as an offensive workaholic genius, said in an interview that, "When you talk football -- I'd like to think that I love football as much as anybody -- you're sitting there and you're thinking, 'This guy might be sicker than I am,'" McVay said about Staley. With the No.1 ranked NFL defense in 2020, Staley could be a defensive workaholic genius for the Chargers, the equivalent of McVay on the Rams, and he is excited about the opportunity he will have with the Chargers.
"It's hard to put into words just how excited I am for the opportunity to be the Los Angeles Chargers' Head Coach," said Staley. "While this is certainly a dream come true, it's also a dream that's just beginning. There's a reason this was probably the most sought-after job out there - from ownership, to the fans, to the city, to the men in that locker room - it's the total package. I can't thank the Spanos family and Tom Telesco enough for placing their faith in us, and by the time everyone is reading this quote in a press release, we'll already be hard at work developing a program Chargers fans everywhere can be proud of."
It is true that the Chargers job was considered the best head coaching job available on the market. With Justin Herbert at quarterback, this is a team with a bright future. The talent at the offensive skill positions and talent on the defensive side of the ball helps to make the Chargers an attractive job for any coach.
But there will be challenges for Staley and one will be along the offensive line, where the Chargers have struggled to run the football. Pro Football Focus recently ranked the performance of all 32 NFL teams at the end of the 2020 season along the offensive line, and the Chargers were considered to have the worst offensive line in the NFL. The Chargers have five free agents on the offensive line, so improving this area needs to be a priority in the offseason. Under Lynn, the Chargers struggled to run the ball consistently.
In his first move to address that issue, Staley hired Frank Smith to be his running game coordinator. Smith spent the past three seasons coaching with the Las Vegas Raiders, coaching the tight ends, and helped in the development of pro bowl tight end Darren Waller. Smith coached tight ends with the Chicago Bears from 2015 through 2017, where he coached with Staley in 2016 and 2017. He also spent five seasons as an assistant offensive line coach with the New Orleans Saints.
The hiring of Smith as the running game coordinator is interesting. Lynn did not have a running game coordinator and most running game coordinators also coach the offensive line. In college, Smith was a three-year starter on the offensive line at Miami (Ohio) from 2000-03, blocking for future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The Chargers have their guy at Head Coach, and he will continue to play his home games in SoFi Stadium. As Chargers President of Football Operations John Spanos stated: "It doesn't matter if you've known Brandon for five minutes or five years, what quickly becomes apparent is the amount of energy and passion he approaches each and every moment with." That is one certainty Charger fans will have in 2021 and that is the hope of the start of a new era in Chargers football.