The banged-up Los Angeles Chargers are now 3-2 and within striking distance of first place in the AFC West after a victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, but that victory wasn’t exactly easy.
After Cleveland went up 14-0, the Chargers went on the offensive, running the ball early and often to get back into the contest and make it a see-saw affair.
Clinging to a 30-28 lead with 1:14 left in the fourth quarter, they faced a fourth down on their own 45-yard line, and head coach Brandon Staley made a head-scratching decision to go for it instead of punt the ball, which resulted in an incompletion and turnover on downs.
Luckily for them, Cade York missed what would’ve been the game-winning field goal from 53 yards to preserve a 30-28 Los Angeles win.
But many are criticizing Staley for that fourth-down decision, as it could’ve cost his team the win.
Chargers fans watching Brandon Staley go for it on fourth down in their own territory: pic.twitter.com/bVTaBTdeh6
— Brian Y (@byysports) October 9, 2022
Those critics include Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen, who has been out with a hamstring injury, as he took to Twitter to show his disgust with that decision.
Keenan Allen was going through it at the end of Chargers-Browns 😬 pic.twitter.com/I5wDALEsx4
— PFF (@PFF) October 9, 2022
Staley Is Not Allergic To Taking Risks On Fourth Downs
Historically, NFL teams never went for it in fourth-down situations unless time was running out and they were behind on the scoreboard.
But in recent years, as the league has become more up-tempo and offensive-friendly, more and more teams have changed their thinking when it comes to what to do on fourth down.
Staley has been one of the leaders in challenging NFL orthodoxy ever since he became the Bolts’ head coach last season.
They were one of the league leaders in fourth-down attempts, and statistically, it’s hard to argue with the results, as they were fourth in fourth-down conversions.
However, there were times when Staley went too far with pressing his luck, such as in Week 18 versus the Las Vegas Raiders, which resulted in a heartbreaking loss that cost L.A. a playoff spot.
This season, the team is only 19th in fourth-down conversions, although it seems Staley has pulled back a little on pulling the trigger on fourth downs when his team is in its own territory.
Against a struggling team that has a substandard quarterback such as the Browns, the Chargers may be able to get away with taking unnecessary risks, but they probably won’t get away with such risks against teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, both of whom they will face in November.
Staley’s Response To Allen’s Tweets
The good news, besides the fact the Chargers beat the Browns: Staley didn’t take Allen’s criticism personally, at least publicly.
In fact, Staley insists that he talked to Allen about it on Monday and that it has actually made their relationship better.
Brandon Staley on Keenan Allen’s tweet: pic.twitter.com/b2eTfuiZ4E
— Nick Cothrel (@NickCothrel) October 10, 2022
There is still concern surrounding Allen, as his hamstring injury hasn’t improved much, and although he has been a limited participant in practice a few times, he hasn’t been able to remain on the practice field.
For the Chargers to defeat the 49ers and Chiefs, not to mention the Denver Broncos, next week’s opponent, they will need Allen to be healthy and productive.