Brandon Staley, Chargers GM fired after historic, embarrassing loss

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Following a historic loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, the Los Angeles Chargers fired head coach Brandon Staley and GM Tom Telesco, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

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“I want to thank Tom and Brandon for their hard work, dedication, and professionalism, and wish both them and their great families nothing but the best,” Chargers owner Dean Spanos said in a statement. “These decisions are never easy, nor are they something I take lightly – especially when you consider the number of people they impact.

“We are clearly not where we expect to be, however, and we need new vision. Doing nothing in the name of continuity was not a risk I was willing to take. Our fans have stood strong through so many ups and downs and close games. They deserve more. Frankly, they’ve earned more. Building and maintaining a championship-caliber program remains our ultimate goal. And reimagining how we achieve that goal begins today.”

Giff Smith and JoJo Wooden have been named the interim head coach and GM, respectively.

Thursday night’s loss to the Las Vegas Raiders is one of the most embarrassing defeats in recent memory. The Chargers’ 63 points allowed were the most in franchise history, and their 42-point deficit was the franchise’s third-largest margin of defeat. To add insult to injury, the loss knocked Los Angeles’ playoff odds down to less than one percent, according to the New York Times.

The game capped off an abysmal stretch for the Chargers’ defense. In Staley’s three years as head coach, the Chargers defense never finished higher than 19th in defensive EPA/Play and 21st in defensive DVOA. In 2023, Staley’s defense finished with the fifth-worst explosive passing rate allowed despite running a two-high scheme specifically designed to eliminate explosive passes.

It wasn’t for a lack of talent acquisition, either. Staley had two All-Pro defensive talents in edge rusher Joey Bosa and safety Derwin James. Telesco then tried his best to add marquee defensive talent each season, bringing in linebacker Khalil Mack via trade and cornerback J.C. Jackson on a five-year, $82 million contract. Jackson played all of seven games before getting traded back to New England, while the serviceable 32-year-old edge rusher Mack is expected to cost the Chargers a cap hit of $38.5 million in 2024.

In Staley’s inaugural season, the Chargers missed the chance at a playoff berth because of Staley’s clock mismanagement in a Week 18 game against the Raiders. In 2022, Los Angeles blew the third-largest lead in NFL playoff history. The Chargers will now likely fail to make the playoffs once again.

The rookie contract window for Justin Herbert ends this season, with his market-setting contract kicking in in 2024. According to OvertheCap, the Los Angeles Chargers currently sit $42.2 million over the 2024 cap threshold, the third-least projected cap space in the league.

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