The Chargers Fired Brandon Staley AND GM Tom Telesco, Salvaged A Fraction Of Self-Respect & Can Now Save Justin Herbert

Brandon Staley
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It’s finally finished. Brandon Staley’s tenure as Los Angeles Chargers head coach is over. Owner Dean Spanos finally came to his senses. If only a certain writer hadn’t burned the midnight oil to hammer out a preemptive coaching obituary and predicted this firing mere hours before it went down.

The Chargers pulled the plug on Staley so fast that said writer now has to conjure up a way to write about this disaster all over again.

When you give up 63 points in front of the entire football-watching world in a standalone prime-time game, and you’re allegedly supposed to be an expert on coaching defense, your job security as a coach is in very real jeopardy. What I didn’t see coming was the dismissal of general manager Tom Telesco as well! WOW. Telesco deserves some blame. He’s among the most overrated GMs I’ve ever seen in my freaking life.

The final straw for Telesco – beyond, you know, the many, many points yielded by his defensive personnel in recent years — might’ve been drafting Quentin Johnston in the first round this year over the likes of Ravens star Zay Flowers and the Vikings’ Jordan Addison. Both look far better than Johnston already. Not great when your only other reliable, somewhat consistently healthy wideout is Keenan Allen.

Good point here by Schefter: Telesco got the shot to hire not one, not two, but three coaches. Quite rare to survive long enough to hire a fourth. Probably hasn’t happened ever.

There are only three games left in the regular season. That’s how bad the Bolts’ performance was on Thursday night. They literally couldn’t move forward for a few more measly matchups with Staley at the helm, even though he’s absolved of a slight amount of blame since superstar QB Justin Herbert is injured.

Now fans just have to hope that Spanos doesn’t go cheap with his next coaching hire, because that’s how the Bolts ended up here in the first place.

Well, that and Staley coached at Telesco’s alma mater, John Carroll, of Division III football. Not sure that helped him get the gig over the other finalist, Brian Daboll of the Giants, who’s leading third-string, undrafted rookie QB Tommy DeVito on the Cinderella run of a lifetime.

You usually don’t want to use full-on nepotism to hire someone, or just “hire your buddies” or whatever. That said, the ties between Telesco and Daboll ran so deep that it was straight-up weird for them not to reunite. Maybe Spanos thought he could pay Staley less…? Seriously like, hindsight 20/20 aside, how did the Chargers let this happen? How did they go with Staley over Daboll?

That was like a once-in-a-lifetime galactic alignment. The synchronicity of the cosmos and the astronomical odds of high school teammates forming a regime atop an NFL organization’s power structure? GTFOH. No way. It seemed like Telesco’s life was building to this moment. Third time was going to be the charm. He’d finally get the head coach right. NOPE. He turned away from Daboll. Now, he’ll be lucky to get a front office gig anywhere else.

If you’ll indulge me — or re-indulge me, I guess — here’s some recycled media to summarize the Brandon Staley era:

I have a theory that’s worked out pretty well. Apply it to any coach-QB combo. At least one of the guys needs to be fiery personality. Either the coach has to be a hardass and the QB has to be composed and super-calm. OR, the coach is an even-keeled, soothing presence on the sideline, and the QB is a competitive maniac. OR, both of them are just kinda nuts and are striving to be great all the time.

Herbert is notoriously reserved. Staley obviously couldn’t lead a group of men at all. Bad vibes. Bad combo. No life. Players quit. Time to move on. Duh. Plus, during Telesco’s decade-long tenure as GM, the Chargers only won two playoff games.

What the Bolts need to do is get an offensive-minded, modern head coach who can also call plays, plug him in for the prime of Herbert’s career, and let the young stud QB cook. Stop the nonsense. It’s not great that Herbert is going to play for a third different head coach in his fifth NFL season in 2024. Obviously, though, Staley does not fit the criteria I just outlined. You know who does? Bolts offensive coordinator Kellen Moore!

If only the Chargers could’ve made this move off Staley earlier to get a better idea of how Moore would do in the big-boy gig. Even if he’s the interim guy now — no word on that just yet as of this writing — three games isn’t enough to learn much of anything about his process of building a program. Moore made enough of an impression on the Panthers to be a finalist for that job last offseason before Carolina ill-fatedly (new word deal with it) hired less-than-one-and-done Frank Reich.

So many coaches would kill — not literally but you know — for the chance to work with Herbert. Moore left a great situation in Dallas in a sort of lateral move for that opportunity. Didn’t work out so great, but with Staley haplessly calling defensive plays and assembling a bad football program, it’s hard for any offense to succeed.

I don’t know what the numbers look like now on these stats from a couple months ago. Whatever the case, the Staley-Telesco combo clearly did a poor job building around the grand slam of a pick that it was to acquire Herbert with the sixth pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

The AFC West looks way different all of a sudden. Most people figured LA’s floor this year was, say, nine wins? Surely with Herbert under center, you can’t dip below .500 even in a loaded AFC, right? Think again! The Broncos are surging under Sean Payton, Kansas City is struggling but still winning plenty enough with Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid in place. Although the Raiders just smoked the Bolts, they’re still deciding who’ll be the full-time coach and GM going forward.

Any big name coach in their right mind will find the Chargers an attractive job for Herbert alone. It’s gotta be an offensive guy. Go big-game hunting, Dean Spanos. It’s the only way to make the most of Justin Herbert’s career and not totally waste it.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock