Chargers fire HC Brandon Staley and GM Tom Telesco — Is it Bill Belichick time in LA?

The Chargers fired HC Brandon Staley after nearly three seasons at the helm. In a corresponding move, GM Tom Telesco also received a pink slip. Who will replace the duo in LA? Could it be the legendary Bill Belichick?
Dec 3, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches
Dec 3, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Chargers suffered one of the most embarrassing losses in franchise history on Thursday Night Football. Against the divisional rival Raiders, the Bolts allowed 49 unanswered points to an offense led by rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell. The final score of 63-21 doesn’t do justice to the beatdown administered by Vegas.

Chargers Fire HC Brandon Staley, GM Tom Telesco

Now, in a move that many around the league expected, head coach Brandon Staley has been sent packing. Staley spent just under three seasons with the franchise, sporting a 24-24 record, but consistently falling short in the biggest of games.

That includes last year’s wildcard fiasco, when the Chargers stormed out to a 27-0 lead before undergoing an all-time collapsing by ultimately losing to Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although the 2022 campaign ended with a whimper, the fan base had several reasons for optimism heading into the new league year.

Having Justin Herbert Is The Primary Selling Point For LA

First, Los Angeles already has a crucial part of the equation solved — a franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert. Once a polarizing NFL Draft prospect, the Chargers secured Herbert as the third signal-caller off the board in 2020. Since then, the gifted passer has set NFL and franchise records on top of two winning seasons.

Unfortunately, Herbert has dealt with injury after injury in his short career. From a rib fracture to a torn labrum to fractured fingers on both hands, it’s been a difficult journey to remain at 100 percent. But Herbert is a gladiator and continued showing up for his squad on the field.

Alas, the Week 14 injury suffered vs. the Denver Broncos was a debilitating blow. With the team well under .500, Herbert would undergo season-ending surgery, leaving Staley and Co. to pick up the pieces. As the national television audience saw Thursday night, that proved to be an impossible task.

The dismissal of Joe Lombardi and the hiring of Kellen Moore at offensive coordinator was supposed to be the cure. Although Moore is still a well-respected play caller, it’s clear his vision never meshed with Staley’s. Now, there’s a chance neither is with the franchise when the offseason arrives.

Drafting Quentin Johnston didn’t add the dynamic to the pass-catching corps that the team anticipated. The rookie from TCU has struggled to create separation in Year 1, and when he does, it’s a toss up whether or not Johnston will even catch the pass.

Losing Mike Williams hurt, and the advancing age of Keenan Allen is a worry, to be sure. Regardless of who coaches the Chargers in 2024, the offense needs a massive second-year leap from Johnston. Until then, fans will always wonder why general manager Tom Telesco didn’t take Zay Flowers instead.

After 11 Years, Telesco And The Bolts Needed A Change Of Scenery

Speaking of Telesco, he received a pink slip on Friday morning, as well. In 11 years as the general manager for the Chargers, he oversaw the franchises move from San Diego to Los Angeles. Telesco played a part in bringing Herbert to the organization; something he will always be remembered fondly for.

However, things quickly grew stale for the Bolts. While Telesco will surely find another gig in the offseason, it was the right time for both sides to mutually breakup. The highs of his tenure are undeniable, but the lows will likely haunt him for years to come. 

The defense needs a complete overhaul. The unit boasts a couple of premier players, but the Chargers have missed on far too many signings and draft picks — and it’s clear as day when watching their defense. Joey Bosa and Derwin James, both of whom make hefty contracts, have each missed multiple games the past two seasons.

Simply put, the stars cannot carry the defense by themselves, especially when they are largely unavailable in their own right. The good news? Many pieces on offense are in place, including Herbert and franchise left tackle Rashawn Slater. That should allow the next GM to prioritize the defensive side.

Currently, the Chargers are set to pick at No. 5 overall. They will have the choice of the first defender off the board or a blockbuster trade down to acquire a slew of assets in return. Either angle can work, but a trade down presents the most realistic option, giving the new regime an embarrassment of riches with draft capital.

Ben Johnson, Bobby Slowik, Or Bill Belichick? The Options Are Endless

Speaking of the next regime, who could that be? At head coach, Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is a fan favorite to fill the vacancy. In his time with Detroit, Johnson has crafted an impressive offensive attack spearheaded by quarterback Jared Goff. Imagine what he could do with Justin Herbert.

Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik is another name to monitor, as the first-time play caller has elevated rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud to elite status in Year 1. It would be a bold move, but the Chargers have a chance to strike on Slowik before the iron gets hot.

Then you have the biggest fish of them all — Hall of Fame head coach Bill Belichick. After becoming synonymous with the New England Patriots the past two decades, murmurs have begun about a potential split. If Belichick decides to move on, Los Angeles provides the best landing spot — and it’s not close.

A large dose of the criticism Belichick receives from the NFL world is his track record as a general manager. The popular saying goes like this, “Bill Belichick the head coach hates Bill Belichick the general manager.” While he has some hits under his belt, it’s been inconsistent at best since Tom Brady’s exit.

Would the Chargers want Belichick to assume both vacancies? Or will they prefer the head coach to stick with what he does best — perform on the sideline. That remains to be seen, and frankly, there’s a chance all this talk is for naught. No official announcement has been made regarding Belichick’s future, merely speculation.

The Chargers Must Get The Justin Herbert Era Back On Track

Whichever path the Chargers take, whether it’s a first-time head coach or the greatest one of all time, there is finally a true feeling of promise for the future. Brandon Staley couldn’t get out of his own way, and the team frequently suffered because of it. And the same is true with Tom Telesco.

It’s time for a fresh chapter. Justin Herbert has the talent to be a top signal-caller in the NFL for the next decade. But he needs help from the top of the organization to the bottom. Hopefully the Chargers don’t squander this prime opportunity — the franchise must get over the hump it couldn’t overcome with Philip Rivers behind center.