Justin Herbert has seen a lot of head coaches since his freshman season at Oregon. Add another one to the list.
The LA Chargers named Brandon Staley their next head coach, and he becomes the fifth HC for Herbert in the last six seasons.
2016: Mark Helfrich; 2017: Willie Taggart; 2018-19: Mario Cristobal; 2020: Anthony Lynn; 2021-? Brandon Staley.
Despite all that change, Herbert became a Top 5 pick, and set several NFL rookie passing records during his last six football years from college to the pros.
The question I’m left asking is why Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley? I have a few theories, but I won’t go through them all.
The most … let’s say “reasonable” explanation is Los Angeles wanted to flip the script. The last three Charger head coaches all came with an offensive background.
Norv Turner (2007-12), Mike McCoy (2013-16) and Anthony Lynn (2016-20) were all offensive coordinators before taking the helm as San Diego/LA’s head man.
The last defensive-minded HC for the Chargers? Marty Schottenheimer (yes, former Seahawks OC Brian Schottenheimer’s dad). Papa Schottenheimer (2002-06) was fired after going 14-2 — you read that right — and never coached in the NFL again.
He was a head coach from 1984-2006 (minus a few gap years) with four franchises, and before that he was a defensive coordinator with Cleveland.
So, even though Eric Bieniemy was available as an offensive mind — and he’s helped shape Patrick Mahomes — the Chargers hired Staley instead.
Kevin Blackistone, a contributor on ESPN’s Around the Horn, provided some interesting context which only furthered my confusion.
Brandon Staley, 38, his resume on the left just got him the @NFL head coaching job for the @Chargers. Eric Bieniemy, 51, drafted by the Chargers, his coaching resume is on the right. pic.twitter.com/NdygtVX6H0
— Kevin B. Blackistone (@ProfBlackistone) January 18, 2021
By current NFL standards, Staley is qualified. I mean, Zac Taylor got the Cincinnati Bengals head coaching job after one season as Sean McVay’s quarterback coach with the Rams. So, at least Staley was a coordinator first.
However, Bieniemy still not getting hired is mind-boggling especially for a team like the Chargers, who have a young, record-setting quarterback. But I digress.
Now, it’s up to Staley to hire a stellar offensive staff to avoid stunting Herbert’s development.
Maybe owner Dean Spanos finally got a head coaching hire right, or maybe he’ll just waste four years of Herbert’s prime and hire another new head coach in 2026.