There’s no comeback for Brandon Staley after this epic bust in Vegas

Chargers’ jaw-dropping 63-21 defeat to the Raiders should spell the end for this coaching regime

A group of guys took a trip to Las Vegas and lost just about everything they own, a tale as old as time. The group of men in question this time are none other than the hapless Los Angeles Chargers, who ended any chance of scraping together a respectable performance before the end of the season.

The Raiders, who are starting fifth-round rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell, ripped off 49 straight points before the Chargers scored a touchdown with 10 minutes left in the third quarter on Thursday night. The Chargers had no Justin Herbert, no defense, no ball security and now, they have absolutely no reason to bring back head coach Brandon Staley after suffering a 63-21 defeat.

Staley noted that he still had a grasp on the culture of the team after its Week 12 loss against the Ravens, ESPN’s Kris Rhim reported during the game. Staley said his team would be getting “blown out of the water” if they had tuned him out. Well. It happened.

The Raiders (6-8) and interim head coach Antonio Pierce were up 42-0 before halftime. At no point was this game close except at the starting point of 0-0. The Chargers (5-9) were embarrassed on the national stage in such a jarring manner that there’s almost no way to come back from this. Offense, defense, special teams — each unit had a disastrous performance that led to this historic loss against a team that’s the middle of its own tumultuous season. It’s hard to seem more disinterested in winning than the Chargers were during their Thursday night implosion.


Head coach Brandon Staley and the Chargers suffered a humiliating 63-21 loss on Thursday night against the Raiders. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 14: Head coach Brandon Staley of the Los Angeles Chargers looks on before playing against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on December 14, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Head coach Brandon Staley and the Chargers suffered a humiliating 63-21 loss on Thursday night against the Raiders. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

In a way, this loss should be freeing for the Chargers. There’s no hiding from a defeat like this. It’s impossible to spin this in a positive manner to keep a sliver of hope alive for the job prospects of Staley (and general manager Tom Telesco) following the season. This is the green light they needed to rip the Band Aid off and get a head start on who will replace Staley. This isn’t losing a tough game to the Ravens or a shootout with the Lions — this is allowing a 60-piece to a team that’s about to enter a lengthy rebuilding phase.

“Games like this happen in the NFL,” Staley told reporters postgame.

Actually, this isn’t a result that happens very often in the NFL. Since the 1970 merger, there were only nine games in which a team scored 60 points — this will be the 10th (and on a different note, the second this season). Backup quarterbacks and injured defenses play every week, but they don’t give up this kind of result. The Chargers’ tumble this season now has a defining moment where they’ll be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Staley said that he deserved to keep his job after the debacle, saying,”I know what I’ve done here for three years and I know what I put into this and I know that we’re capable of going. I know the type of coach that I am.”

The extenuating circumstances don’t matter. It’s time to turn the page. Even if Staley isn’t fired immediately after the game and gets the final three games of the season, this game will be the top reason as to why the Chargers have to let him go on the infamous Black Monday after Week 18. It’s hard to come back from a team looking totally disinterested like this — plus, he never even got remotely close to figuring out how to get the Chargers’ defense moving in the right direction like he did as coordinator with the Rams.

It’s just over here. There should be some peace with that. It’s not like everything is completely over for the Chargers moving forward. They’ll need to tweak their roster to get under the salary cap and be a player in free agency, but they get Justin Herbert back next year in conjunction with what could be a top-five draft pick. There are worse places to be for a new regime walking in, but the Chargers are only in this position because Staley has been a whiff as a head coaching hire.

Better luck next year, Chargers. At least you can say you probably won’t give up 63 points in a game next season. It’s about the small victories — that’s all they have left after a demoralizing night in Vegas.

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