The Los Angeles Chargers have a lot to look forward to this season.
After a disappointing 2021 campaign that saw them miss the playoffs by the slimmest of margins in Week 18, they have a stacked roster that has gotten a lot stronger on the defensive side of the football.
The Chargers are, to a certain extent, becoming a trendy pick to finish first in the AFC West, something they haven’t done since 2009.
It has also put a considerable amount of pressure on a franchise that has only reached the playoffs twice during that span.
Brandon Staley is entering his second season as the head coach of the Chargers, and there have been some whispers that, despite the presence of one of the game’s elite quarterbacks in Justin Herbert, multiple weapons at the skill positions and a massively upgraded defense, he may not be able to put it all together.
In fact, ESPN analyst Chris Canty, a former player, said on “Get Up” that he feels Staley will end up getting fired soon.
.@ChrisCanty99 gives us five BOLD predictions for the upcoming NFL season 👀
5. Eagles will win NFC East
4. Malik Willis will start for the Titans
3. This will be Brandon Staley's last season as Chargers head coach
2. Rams will miss playoffs
1. 49ers will make Super Bowl pic.twitter.com/XPoS4RurPv
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) August 19, 2022
“Brandon Staley won’t be the head coach of the Chargers in 2023. This is going to be his last season as the head coach,” Canty said. “I get this is only his second year with the Chargers, but you’ve already heard overtures that Sean Payton will be interested in this job.”
Canty also said that Staley’s decision-making in that Week 18 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders was faulty, and he implied it could lead to Staley leaving the team.
Staley Is Gutsy, But Perhaps Too Gutsy
Over the past several years, NFL teams have been going for it in fourth-down situations more often than they traditionally did for much of the league’s history.
Staley and his Chargers were one of the teams leading that recent trend last season, as they went for it 34 times, third-most in the league, and on an NFL-high 31.5 percent of their fourth downs.
Although Los Angeles ranked fourth in fourth-down conversion percentage, there was one costly fourth down it didn’t convert on in the third quarter of Week 18 that Canty referenced.
The Chargers did so while deep in their own territory, which led to a quick field goal for Las Vegas.
Huge 4th down stop by the Raiders, stopping the Chargers from their own 18! pic.twitter.com/RHMS7JuG1Q
— Main Team (@MainTeamSports2) January 10, 2022
They ended up losing in overtime by a field goal.
Staley leans heavily on analytics to determine whether to go for it on fourth down and while analytics certainly have a place in the game, they are not the end all be all of decision-making.
If Staley goes for it on fourth down in a big game or playoff contest, fails and then loses the game, there could be a possibility he gets the ax.
High Expectations Bring High Pressure
This is the first time in a long time the Chargers have had a team that is capable of not only winning their division but also of perhaps winning the Super Bowl.
It would be one thing if L.A. doesn’t finish first in the AFC West, but if it doesn’t make the playoffs, there will be lots of criticism to go around.
Often times in sports, when a team fails to meet expectations, its coach gets fired, whether he deserved it or not.
The AFC is as loaded as either conference ever has been in league history, and there may be multiple teams that register double-digit wins but don’t make the postseason.
With their first two regular season contests against the Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, the Chargers need to make sure they get off to a good start.
Otherwise, Staley’s job security could be in question.