An overtime loss to the Chiefs should not have caused the Chargers to drop all that much in this week’s power rankings. For all it looked like, they were a few rare occurrences away from actually winning handedly against Kansas City and we’d all be singing quite the different tune right now.
Sadly, the breaks just didn’t bounce that way.
A team missing numerous blue-chip players seemingly should have beat one of the best teams in the NFL, and if they get even a handful of players back from injury/the COVID-19 list, they may end up peaking at the perfect time.
With that said, let’s go ahead and check out where the Bolts landed across the media landscape.
Pro Football Network - #9
“We can sit on our $75 gaming chairs on Friday morning and scoff at Brandon Staley’s decisions to go for it as much as we want, but it doesn’t change anything. At its very base, a fourth-down model should calculate a team’s win probability if they go for it as compared to kicking. It should also provide historical data for how often teams convert in specific situations.”
“Staley also wins the admiration from everyone on his football team — aside from maybe kicker Michael Badgley — because of his undying confidence that his team will pick up fourth-down conversions.”
“After the Chargers’ loss and the Colts’ impressive win, they flipped spots in the AFC Wild Card hunt. Yet, with games against the Texans, Broncos, and Raiders still on the schedule, LA has three pretty winnable games left to improve their conference record and try to sneak back into the fifth seed.” - Dalton Miller
Yahoo Sports - #9
“The only mistake Brandon Staley made vs. the Chiefs was not going for two when the Chargers were up seven. Every other decision was sound. He believes in his team, and they’ll be dangerous in January.” - Josh Schrock
New York Post - #9
“Head coach Brandon Staley is a lightning rod for analytics-versus-traditional thinking. The Chargers were 2-for-5 on fourth-down conversions in an overtime loss to the Chiefs. Two of the three failures were inside the 5-yard line and the other was in field-goal range, so that’s a lot of missed points. But Staley is ahead of the curve because he understands field goals don’t win big NFL games.” - Ryan Dunleavy
Sporting News - #10
“The Chargers might be in the first place in the AFC West had they executed better in the red zone and fourth downs against the Chiefs. Instead, they are clinging to a wild-card playoff spots. Regardless, they remain a very dangerous playoff team because Justin Herbert’s big arm and Austin Ekeler’s quickness.” - Vinnie Iyer
NFL.com - #10
“Is there such a thing as believing in your guys … too much? Over and over, the Chargers passed on easy points on Thursday night in favor of bold risks that didn’t pay off. Two trips inside the Kansas City 5-yard line ended with fourth-down incompletions; another trip imploded with a goal-line fumble. More conservative decision-making by Brandon Staley likely would have avoided the fate of Thursday night’s painful overtime loss to the Chiefs – but Staley has a vision. ‘That’s the way we’re going to play around here,’ the coach said after the game. ‘... With a quarterback like ours, with an offense like ours, that’s how we’re going to play.’” - Dan Hanzus
Sports Illustrated - #10
“The only legitimate criticism of Brandon Staley’s fourth-down aggressiveness is that you wish the passing game were more aggressive attacking downfield on the first three downs. Defensively, do they have enough outside of Joey Bosa in the trenches to stay out of shootouts in what’s now, essentially, playoff football?” - Gary Gramling
USA Today - #12
“Impressive commitment to the run lately, Bolts averaging better than 130 yards over the past five weeks. And impressive commitment to analytics by coach Brandon Staley.” - Nate Davis
ESPN - #12
“The Chargers haven’t been to the playoffs since the 2018 campaign. This team turned around when quarterback Justin Herbert was drafted in 2020 and Staley arrived after the end of last season. The organization and the players are squarely behind the coach’s “going for it on fourth down” decisions — even when they don’t always work. He has a young, smart staff and talented players on both side of the ball. And most importantly, Staley has their trust. Everything down to the activation period (stretching and calisthenics) has been well-received and emulated around the league.” — Shelley Smith
Pro Football Talk - #14
“The future is bright. The present is murky.” - Mike Florio
Fansided - #14
“Thanks to a win at Kansas City in Week 3, the Bolts were in position to sweep the Chiefs for the first time since 2013. Justin Herbert threw for 236 yards and two scores (1 interception) and also ran for a touchdowns.”
“The Bolts also gashed the Chiefs’ defense for 192 yards on the ground. But Brandon Staley’s team was 2-of-5 on fourth-down and left points on the field. And his defense had no answers for Patrick Mahomes in the fourth quarter and OT.” - Russell S. Baxter