The Los Angeles Chargers have officially fired head coach Brandon Staley, but they didn't stop there. The Chargers cleaned house and actually fired longtime GM Tom Telesco as well, signaling that this franchise is in for wholesale changes in the 2024 offseason. And of course, because the Chargers play in the AFC West, the Denver Broncos will be impacted, but how?
Well, for starters, there are a lot of folks out there who view the Chargers gig as a great one thanks to the presence of Justin Herbert. Herbert, by the way, was shut down for the rest of the 2023 season after the Chargers' loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 14 due to a finger injury on his throwing hand. But Herbert's presence on the roster will certainly be a way to lure in a new head coach, but how much of a role will that play?
Speaking frankly about where the Chargers are at, this is a top-heavy roster whose best players (outside of Herbert) are all old or frequently injured. They have notoriously cheap ownership which has proven that it's not willing to make necessary tough decisions or invesments when they are actually needed.
After blowing a 27-0 lead in last year's playoffs, the writing was on the wall for Brandon Staley. His teams had collapsed one too many times already, and just about everyone thought that the Chargers would fire Staley after that embarrassing playoff performance. But they didn't. They stuck with Staley when they were the betting favorites to land Sean Payton in last year's coaching circuit.
But the Chargers weren't willing to move off of Brandon Staley. They weren't willing to shell out the cash for Sean Payton, and certainly the idea of trading high draft selections to acquire him from the Saints was not something this franchise would have been willing to do.
The Chargers have been consistent underachievers. They are all bark and never any bite. They are every analyst's favorite "it" team in the NFL offseason but the fact of the matter is, the Chargers are going to need a new tone-setter to come in and change the culture of this franchise. This statistic sums it up well:
How is it possible that Justin Herbert gets anointed with all of the other elite young QBs in the game today, but no one really wants to acknowledge this reality? I think you can pin a lot of the Chargers' issues on coaching, but the ownership's unwillingness to admit defeat on Brandon Staley cost them one of the best head coaches in NFL history. How are they going to right the ship?
Well, one of the potential bits of fallout from this decision to fire Brandon Staley that directly impacts the Denver Broncos is the idea that the Chargers could actually upgrade in the coaching department. There are rumors that Bill Belichick could be on the move this offseason, but would he go across the country to coach this franchise? Would that be best for Justin Herbert?
It will be fascinating to see if the Chargers try to lure a candidate like Jim Harbaugh -- a Broncos target last year -- out of the college ranks at Michigan to try and come coach their team, but that idea seems far-fetched as well.
One way or another, getting better coaching in Los Angeles could make the Chargers an actual threat in the AFC West in the near future. It's also possible, however, that the Chargers will take on a bit of a demolition in 2024. Like I said, the roster is top-heavy with aging star players like Keenan Allen and Khalil Mack. Austin Ekeler won't likely be with the team in 2024. Things could turn around quickly for the Chargers with the right people in place, but it seems like the idea of hiring a brand-new GM will involve gutting where this roster is currently at and reshaping.
Another potential impact of this is the idea that Brandon Staley could join the Denver Broncos' coaching staff in 2024. Staley employed current Broncos OC Joe Lombardi in the same role last season with the Chargers, so it would be interesting to find out whether or not Lombardi would vouch for Staley as a potential assistant on Denver's defensive staff.
Of course, that was a role Staley held in the past. He was once the Broncos' outside linebackers coach under Vic Fangio.
This decision by Los Angeles now makes two AFC West franchises that will be in the mix for new head coaches in 2024. It will be fascinating to see who those two teams (Raiders, Chargers) tab as their next leaders with the Broncos and Chiefs boasting two of the best coaches in the NFL right now.