Good Morning, Bolts From the Blue.
In 2020, the Los Angeles Chargers entered Week 14 with an ugly 3-9 record despite some stellar play from their stud rookie quarterback, Justin Herbert. Anthony Lynn had been retained after an ugly 5-11 finish in 2019, and fans were souring on him early in 2020 as he seemed hesitant to acknowledge the young phenom’s impressive start. After Tyrod Taylor’s lung was punctured from an injection administered by the Bolts’ training staff in Week 2. Herbert was thrust into action unexpectedly and thrived. Lynn, however, remained adamant for weeks that Taylor would start when he was healthy again.
The Chargers offense performed admirably all year with Herbert behind center, but fan sentiment continued to sour as the special teams and defensive efforts lost them game after game until they slipped all the way to 3-9.
And then, in a game that was actually the first in a four game winning streak to end the season, came the moment where you knew Anthony Lynn’s dismissal was inevitable.
After Anthony Lynn had reassigned his longtime friend George Stewart from special teams to “senior analyst” and eventually took over special teams oversight himself. Shortly after doing so, the Chargers had one of the most significant mental lapses at the end of a two-minute drill you could imagine.
With 20 seconds ticking away, third-and-one to go on the Falcon’s eight yard line with no timeouts, the Chargers called a short running play between the tackles with running back Kalen Ballage. When they failed to pick up the first, resulting in fourth down and eliminating the option of spiking the ball to stop the clock, the team froze. Half of the special teams unit sprinted out, the offense lightly jogged off the field in a fog of confusion. By the time the ball was snapped and field goal kicked, the Chargers had about 16 men on the field.
That was the moment everyone knew Anthony Lynn’s time as a head coach had run its course. He finished the season on a four game heater, but the 7-9 record was still enough to convince the team to move on.
November 19, 2023 felt a lot like December 13th, 2020. Had Brandon Staley not spewed verbal vitriol at the postgame presser, the game would been a continuation of a season-long trend of disappointment and defensive miscues. Instead, it’s a moment that will be time-stamped in everyone’s brains as the moment Staley lashed out at the media in a historically-relevant meltdown, and effectively signed his walking papers.
As the Chargers own this media, you’ll have to follow this link to their YouTube page, but you can find the painful presser here.
If Anthony Lynn was able to survive until the end of the season, it wouldn’t be a shock if Staley is retained through January. Interestingly enough, the Chargers have routinely avoided “lame duck” head coaching years, offering one-year extensions to both Mike McCoy and Anthony Lynn before starting the final year of their initial coaching contract, but fired both before the extension would kick in. It’s very unlikely the Chargers would consider letting Brandon Staley coach on a contract year. Based on their history, Staley is likely to be extended or fired in January... and it’s almost impossible to imagine a scenario where they’d be comfortable announcing a one-year extension for Brandon.
Head coaching candidates, and general manager candidates as well, will be discussion topics on BFTB for weeks to come.
For now, here are today’s daily links:
Daniel Popper drops another woefully accurate depiction of the shortcomings of the Chargers defense (The Athletic)
Chargers’ beat reporter Eric Smith acknowledges the locker room has grown very frustrated (Chargers.com)
Ian Rapoport says the Joey Bosa X-Rays came back negative, but hold on to your optimism until we get the MRI results back (Charger Report from SI)
Social media, pundits, former coaches, and former players collectively agree that it’s time to move on from Brandon Staley. Here are some Social Media highlights. (Charger Report from SI)
Robert Salah benches Zach Wilson, noncommittal about who will start Week 12 (NFL.com)
Dion Dawkins rips the Jets, calling them “disrespectful” after pregame skirmish (ESPN)
Kareem Jackson escapes another helmet-to-helmet penalty, but continues to recklessly lead with his head (ESPN)
Chargers fall to 22nd in Sporting News’ power rankings (Sporting News)
CBS Sports pegs the Chargers as one of the biggest “losers” of Week 11 (CBS Sports)