Staley will be the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers as long as he wants to be. After all, they hired a boy genius. It might have been an ‘Einstein’ moment for an organization with a less than stellar head coaching tree of longevity:
To understand the hiring, we have to understand the vast comprehensive variables to Brandon Staley as head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. He comes in as a member of the ‘wonderboy’ era. Yes, I said wonderboy. Not wunderkind. You can say wunderkind too, but it’s all relative to a point. I didn’t give him that name.
It’s a hiring pattern of very young head coaches who are noted as brilliant offensive and defensive football minds. A youth leadership movement in a professional game that is changing a professional sport more rapidly than all three other professional sports combined. But, the answer to those variables is an equation that is much less extensive – hire players to lose fewer games than everyone else. Oh, and to keep his job longer than three years.
In the 60 years of Chargers football, the average stint of a Chargers head coach is 3 1/2 years. Staley is known within the upper-level circle of coaches and players as a football genius. But no matter what Staley’s IQ is, the one thing that will determine his genius is something very simple and elementary – Buck Charger head coach chronicles. Keep his job past three years and simple enough, hire the players that will lose fewer games than everybody else.
These young coaches are getting the call to lead an NFL team in their 30’s and succeeding at a supremely high level. His former boss just a year before, Sean McVay, took his Los Angeles Rams to the dance at the very tender age of 33. Kyle Shanahan took the 49ers to the Super Bowl at 39 just like John Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The only difference, Gruden won his championship.
When Telesco hired Staley, 38 years old, his energetic youth was one of the reasons he was favored over several coaches throughout the league. But one word that was thrown out there by a few coaches and even more former players was ‘genius.’
Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey said it best, “The dude’s a genius.” One of his very own current players right now believes it. “He is very, very smart,” said Chris Harris who was with Staley in Denver.
That ‘smart guy’ moniker started as the defensive coordinator/secondary coach at John Carroll University in 2013. This is a guy from an NCAA Division III school and ended up as a head coach in the NFL just four years later. That John Carroll connection is with current Chargers GM Tom Telesco who played at John Carroll. People in the league were out on notice where he was the outside linebackers coach for the Chicago Bears for two seasons, then spent one year with the Denver Broncos in the same capacity before becoming the Rams DC in 2020.
Rams head coach Sean McVay went as far as to say:
“He basically ruined my night that night. That was not a good night for us,” he said. “We talked a lot about that game and a lot of the things that we’re doing are reflective of some of the things that they were doing then, but also you see some carryover from what Coach Fangio and then what they’re doing under Coach (Chuck) Pagano. But it certainly is Coach Pagano’s system and they’re doing an excellent job executing that defense now.”
McVay hired Staley shortly after that as a defensive coordinator wherein his very first year as defensive coordinator, they were the number one rated defense in the entire NFL.
But here is one one of those Staley variables, he a quarterback at John Carroll, and a good one.
Before we anoint Staley as the chosen one, we must lump him in with a few other old-school Charger head coaches. They have a lot in common and winning is one of them. Even though Staley has yet to coach a game, he is favored.
Unfortunately, they all have the dubious distinction of equivalence – fans were pissed when all of them were hired. From a Division III quarterback to the hottest defensive coordinator to head coaching hire in quite some time in the NFL, shook the heads of the Charger loyal.
Staley is in the great company though. Sid Gilman won the 1962 American Football League championship in the Chargers’ third year of existence. Bobby Ross took a middle-of-the-road talented team to its first Super Bowl in 1994. And Marty Schottenheimer led the Chargers’ most talented team in organization history to a 14-2 record in 2006, only to lose to a Tom Brady New England Patriots in the first round of the playoffs.
All four head coaches were hired with a lack of overwhelming anticipation. Even the old-timer Charger faithful remember the only excitement of hiring Gilman was the Chargers were a new professional football team in the city of angels. Gilman actually had to be coaxed to take the job
Ross was hired from Georgia Tech after leading the Yellow Jackets to an undefeated season in 1990. Marty was highly respected in the league for his toughness of smashmouth football and over 200 wins as a head coach.
Marty’s hire was not received well at all from Charger fans. “Marty Ball’ came in as the coach who could not win the big one. And he left with the same moniker, with one exception – The loyal Charger fan base loved him and still do. A 14-2 record in 2006, #1 seeded AFC team in the playoffs, and an early loss at home to Brady and the Patriots.
Coach Staley snuck into the conversation late amongst the hiring process and before anyone fan had a chance to comment. So, what is the vast and enormous difference that will answer the question of why Staley will be a Charger until he wants to leave or not? I’m going by the number of players and other coaches that have used the synonyms to describe Staley.
NFL Network’s Matt ‘Money’ Smith went very far as saying that the Chargers got “the Sean McVay of defense. Heavy.”
Former Northern Illinois coach Joe Novack who hired Staley said, “You spend a half-hour with him, and you’ll know what I’m talking about,” Novak said. “You just know. With that kid, he’s got all the qualities.”
It’s well documented that Brandon Staley knows football at an enormously high level. That intelligence moniker goes much deeper than just knowing X’s and O’s. There are many other variables to describe that type of football savant.
Firstly, he is PeopleSmart. PeopleSmart is an actual word of intellect and when you look up the definition, you will know why. Understanding people, expressing himself clearly, asserting needs, influencing others, resolving conflict, and being a team player. That’s Staley.
Ramsey noticed his PeopleSmart’s:
“You can’t treat everybody the same, so I think he knows how to talk to different people,” Ramsey said. “I know he knows how to treat different people differently. He’s about (the) ball, but at the same time he’s a player’s coach.”
“I told him the first time we were on the Zoom call, he had me fired up, ready to go,” defensive lineman Michael Brockers said. “I wanted to put my helmet on, on the Zoom call, because he had me so fired up.”
There is a natural intelligence of work ethic as well. McVay also noticed it right away.
“We talk about being totally present, and he is certainly present. He’s so present, that he can’t hear anything else,” said McVay. “He’s got great focus and concentration. Everything that he’s done, he’s checking all those boxes. I’d like to think that I love football as much as anybody and you’re sitting there and you’re thinking, ‘This guy might be sicker than I am.’”
“His leadership in the meeting room, on the grass, his ability to make corrections in real-time — that’s what separates the good coaches from the others: the ability to quickly identify problems and fix them on the field,” says the Rams head coach.
After everything that is said about him, he is still a football coach that will lose games. He has the difficult task to beat and unseat the current AFC West title holders in the Kansas City Chiefs.
He doesn’t have a lot to go on when it comes to the history as head coach of the Chargers. Along with Telesco, he is about to embark on a journey to find those players that will help put him in the Belichick-esque type of contract. His true intelligence will be on display on the last week of April for the 2021 NFL draft.
Now, we have to throw the IQ out of the window. He will lose games. He has yet to coach a game in the NFL as a head coach. He has never drafted his own players. But, the one thing that will determine his genius is something very simple and elementary – hire the players that will win games and, most importantly, win big games.