Chargers fire head coach Brandon Staley, general manager Tom Telesco following blowout loss to Raiders

The Los Angeles Chargers are firing head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco in the wake of the team’s 63-21 Thursday night loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday, per a source.ย 

The team has since announced the news.

“I want to thank Tom and Brandon for their hard work, dedication and professionalism, and wish both them and their great families nothing but the best,” said Chargers owner Dean Spanos. “These decisions are never easy, nor are they something I take lightly — especially when you consider the number of people they impact. We are clearly not where we expect to be, however, and we need new vision. Doing nothing in the name of continuity was not a risk I was willing to take. Our fans have stood strong through so many ups and downs and close games. They deserve more. Frankly, they’ve earned more. Building and maintaining a championship-caliber program remains our ultimate goal. And reimagining how we achieve that goal begins today.”

An interim head coach and general manager will be announced “within short order,” per the team.

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The Chargers parting ways with Staley on Friday marked the franchise’s first in-season firing since Kevin Gilbride was dismissed in 1998. After Thursday’s defeat accentuated a season of struggle, Staley’s departure isn’t surprising.

In a campaign that fell well short of expectations for a talent-laden Chargers squad, Los Angeles sits at 5-9 after losing five of their last six and clinching the first losing season in Staley’s three-year stay. Staley leaves L.A. with a 24-24 record, two winning seasons and one playoff berth that ended in historic disaster.

Thursday’s blowout loss, one in which the Chargers trailed by a franchise-worst 42 points at halftime, was the latest calamity in a season that began badly and has ended early for Staley.

Los Angeles’ ills spread to both sides of the ball as the Chargers began the year at 0-2 and have been trying to turn things around ever since.

Before he was lost for the season on Sunday with a fractured index finger on his throwing hand, franchise quarterback Justin Herbert had posted career worsts in team points per game (21.7), record, completion percentage (65.1) and passing yards per game (241.1).

Picked from the Sean McVay coaching tree to helm the Chargers ahead of the 2021 season, Staley was a defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams in 2020. However, the Bolts’ defense was woeful in his time, and he never ceded the play-calling duties. Entering Thursday, the Chargers were 29th in yards allowed.

Though the 2023 failures ultimately sealed Staley’s ousting, it was a tumultuous 2022 capped by a historic postseason collapse that first put Staley on the hot seat.

Following a mercurial 10-7 regular season that led to a wild-card playoff berth, the Chargers built a 27-0 first-half lead against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars won the wild-card game, 31-30, orchestrating the third-largest comeback in NFL postseason history at the expense of the Chargers’ largest blown lead in franchise chronicle.

Before the 2022 season, the Chargers spent huge in free agency to get cornerback J.C. Jackson, who became an ultimate bust and was traded to the New England Patriots this season after injury woes and failing to mesh with Staley’s defense. The Bolts also traded to acquire Khalil Mack, who is producing an all-time season in 2023 that’s largely been wasted.

According to Spotrac, defensive players on the Chargers roster account for $98.1 million against the salary cap in 2023, which is third-most in the NFL. Yet, the Chargers have ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in scoring defense and total defense in each season with Staley.

Telesco, the architect of the Chargers’ talented roster, was let go amid his 11th season with the club. His hiring in 2013 marked a big turning point for the franchise as he took over for longtime GM A.J. Smith. Staley was the third head coach Telesco hired during his tenure.

The Chargers drafted a total of eight Pro Bowlers with Telesco at the helm, including notable players like Keenan Allen, Joey Bosa, Derwin James and Herbert. L.A. went 84-92 in the regular season and owned a 2-3 record in three playoff appearances during Telesco’s reign as GM.

Telesco and Staley’s dismissal won’t bring about an easy fix for the franchise, which has eight players with 2024 cap hits of $10 million-plus, including four with hits north of $32 million, per NFL Research.

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