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Why Brandon Staley is coaching for his job with the Los Angeles Chargers

Brandon Staley will make his NFL Playoff coaching debut when his Los Angeles Chargers take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs Saturday evening.

In his second season as the Chargers’ head coach, the 40-year-old Staley continues to draw fire for his in-game coaching decisions.

That included playing Los Angeles’ starters during a meaningless Week 18 outing against the Denver Broncos. The Chargers were already locked into the fifth seed and a road date in Jacksonville. Why play stars such as Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams and Joey Bosa with nothing on the line?

Heading into Saturday’s game, there’s renewed questions about Staley’s future as the Chargers’ head coach. Not only did Williams and Bosa suffer injuries in that game, the former has yet to practice this week.

While leading the Chargers to just their second 10-win performance since all the way back on 2009 is a solid accomplishment, this organization expects more than an early first-round exit. Here’s why Staley is likely coaching for his job Saturday night against Jacksonville.

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Brandon Staley’s in-game coaching issues are not new

brandon staley hot seat, los angeles chargers
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

It was back in Week 18 of the 2021 season that Staley had his Chargers on the verge of a playoff appearance. Los Angeles was in the midst of an overtime game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Both teams found themselves at 9-7 on the season. A tie in this one would have sent the Chargers and Raiders to the playoffs. Vegas had the ball at the Los Angeles’ 38-yard line with 38 seconds left.

In shocking fashion, Staley called a timeout on a running clock. The Raiders were set to let the clock run out and allow the game to end in a tie. By virtue of the Staley timeout, Vegas opted to run the ball one more time. It set up a game-winning field goal from Daniel Carlson, sending Los Angeles home for the winter.

Did Staley not know the situation at hand? The Raiders were set to let this one end in a tie, sending both AFC West teams to the playoffs. Instead, Staley gifted them the win.

It’s been a consistent issue for Staley during his time in Los Angeles. Whether we’re talking about clock management or going for it on fourth down more than any coach in the league, this has cost the Chargers games. That’s not even up for debate.

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Sean Payton could impact Brandon Staley

Denver Broncos, Sean Payton
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

A first-round playoff exit at the hands of Jacksonville Saturday night would actually represent good timing for those hoping to get Sean Payton and Justin Herbert pairing in Southern California.

The Super Bowl-winning head coach resigned his job with the New Orleans Saints following the 2021 season. He’s now looking to make it back on an NFL sideline with the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos among those already linked to him.

In comparison to Payton, Staley’s track record just isn’t in the same universe. Payton earned nine playoff appearances in his 15 seasons with the Saints. He led the team to the Super Bowl title following the 2009 campaign and put up nine double-digit win seasonss.

Oh, he also helped turn Drew Brees into a record-breaking quarterback and future first ballot Hall of Famer after the all-time great left the Chargers back in 2006. The idea of having Payton work with Justin Herbert might be too much for Los Angeles’ brass to pass up on.

It also must be noted that Payton has been linked to the Chargers on a near never-ending loop in recent months. A lot of that has to do with the presence of Herbert and Payton’s preference to coach in a warm-weather market.

If Los Angeles were to go one-and-done, it would not be a surprise if Brandon Staley found himself out of a job after just two seasons. Payton would play a role in whatever the Chargers’ brass decides. That’s for sure.