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The Football Question: The Chargers are in the playoff hunt. Is it coaching? It can't be. Seriously?

Updated: Dec 20, 2022



My year-and-a-half long pilgrimage against Chargers head coach Brandon Staley as a grossly underqualified leader of a NFL team has been present to the world. Nearly two years of being outcoached in almost every game, except the last two, has put the Chargers in the playoff hunt. Has it been coaching? Come on. Seriously?




Tim Daniel NFL Game Scout, Football Writer

LOS ANGELES, CA The Football Question

Tim Daniel is a NFL game scout , NFL Draft development and professional player development coach, NCAA talent evaluator and football writer for 29 years.


I had to change this piece several times. Especially after Sunday’s win over the Tennessee Titans. As a fervent critique of Brandon Staley as a NFL head and the lack of coordinators in this organization, could it be that I actually witnessed outstanding coaching in the lat two weeks to put the Chargers in the playoff hunt?


I can't believe I am saying this, but defensively the football Chargers of Los Angeles were very well prepared and schemed in the last two weeks.


How dare I say it, but did Staley outcoach one of the best coaches in all football in Mike Vrabel? And scheme up a highly talented football team in the Miami Dolphins? I believe he did, defensively.


But so far, the facts are the facts. And its mostly bad than good.


The Los Angeles Chargers are a unique bird. And they are a fowl that science has not figured out what breed it is. But apparently has a chance to make the playoffs and find out what kind of bird they are.


But how?


Anyone who follows my columns knows that I am not a Brandon Staley fan as a coach. He is a very likable guy, the players love him but he has taken a flock of racing pigeons and turned them into a bunch of cuckoos. Or has he?


They are a consistent image of dastardly coaching decisions. Does poor leadership trump outstanding talent? For about 13 weeks I could have said an overwhelming yes. Some reasons run deep.


But something has happened the last two weeks defensively and it’s what most have expected from a group as talented as this. But the Chargers have history.


Ever since Alex Spanos took over as owner several decades ago, feathers changed colors when he became boss. He got them a couple of AFC championship game entrances, one AFC title, and of course a Super Bowl appearance.


When son Dean started running the show, this bird went cuckoo.

Ever since, the Chargers have been tabbed as the worst ownership in the history of professional team sports.


They made the move from a city that was ‘almost’ all in for them. But instead, he took freebies from the NFL so he can make the move to Los Angeles and continue the typical Spanos way; lose a fan base and lack-luster ticketing to create a fan base, go to the playoffs one time in 5 years and hire an unqualified head football coach to destroy the most talented football team in the league.


For the last 10 years, the head coach hiring practice has been a dumpster fire of sorts. All for two reasons. Money and poor decision making; Because of money.


Of the coaches they interviewed, and were not chosen, four of them turned teams around and are now coaching playoff teams, or Super Bowl winners. One of them is a Super Bowl champ and has another appearance. However, they weren’t interested in ‘wowing’ the top coach in the game these days Andy Reid.


So now, the opportunity is there for the playoffs, just like last year. Yes, we all remember last year and the final game against the Las Vegas Raiders.


But hey, they hired a young, inexperienced coach that other coaches raved about. After only a few years as a coach in the National Football League, the Chargers were all over the Wunderkind craze and the hiring of the next defensive guru.


But accurately, they got him for a cool mill a year. The Spanos way. That is the ‘save money at all costs,’ way.


But what can go wrong with an inexpensive coach? Everything.

Firstly, Brandon Staley was the young defensive guru coach most are looking for, but guru he is not. In fact, in his second year, he was unproven and not ready for this position, and they practically gave him a blank check to get the best players in the world, and they did. The most powerful roster in the league.


Secondly, he is grossly unqualified and incapable to be the head coach of a professional football team. It is a staggering move in professional sports. In the truest sense, he is completely lost out there and he is outcoached every week. Well, 99% of the weeks.

In his first season with playoff talent, he singlehandedly cost the team a playoff appearance. All on him and his decision-making.


However, Dean himself is the ultimate culprit. Strife within the immediate family, and questionable business dealings in his residential properties, where some have gone as far as to call him a ‘slum lord.’ But if you look at that business’s true dynamics, he falls within the dysfunctional housing category.


So how has Staley make me look as wrong as rain?


Defensively, Miami and Tennessee game was outstanding. PScheme weas great


Staley has taken one of the most talented teams on paper in the history of the league and destroyed it. For all intense and purposes, the Chargers are out of the playoffs again unless every team in the NFL collapses.


So, what will happen after this season of a coach and a staff that has disfigured a Super Bowl talent team?

Let’s follow the history of this ownership. One time and one time only, they have ever had a great salary cap window and that was this year general manager Tom Telesco finally spent their money to get the best players out there.


But the cheap coach has gotten them cheap results. So, what happens from here?

Any stable organization would be firing Staley after this year. But this is the Chargers, so instability is their middle name. But, there still have a chance to make the playoffs.


I don’t see them making the playoffs. Can they? Sure. But here is what should happen if they don’t make the playoffs.


For the first time in weeks, I saw a defense that was not out of position. A brilliantly called defensive game that was schemed brilliantly. Both games against the best run teams in the league.


But if they don't win out and make the playoffs, should Brandon Staley and the staff should be fired after the end of the season. Keep as many of the players as they contractually can, get a Pro-Bowl right tackle, and hire a skilled, experienced, winning head coach.


If the Chargers make the playoffs, here is what will probably happen.

No one will be fired; they will not shore up any depth in the offensive line and the Chargers will continue to struggle for the next two years.


But if the Chargers want to save respectability in the league and with their fans.

Here is what realistically should happen.


Staley will keep his job. He will fire Joe Lombardi and hire a proven offensive coordinator. He must remove himself from the defensive coordinator position and hire a big-name DC.

But the facts are the facts. Staley and Lombardi are not whom the Chargers need.


Too much pressure is on Justin Herbert. The Tennessee game was not one of his finest but in good QB terms, it was amazing. But Herbert is not a good quarterback, he is great. He needs to not try and do so much and the Titans game is I believe what we say yesterday.

But a win is a win, and I won’t knock it until they blow it.


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