Brandon Staley: Real football people understand what I’m doing

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Chargers coach Brandon Staley took plenty of heat for his fourth-down decisions in Thursday night’s loss to the Chiefs. It’s heat he says he doesn’t mind, because he doesn’t think much of his critics.

Staley said Friday that the people who really understand the sport of football know why he’s so aggressive on fourth downs, especially considering that he has a great quarterback in Justin Herbert and a suspect kicking game.

“The real football people understand that what I’m doing is playing to the strengths of our football team,” Staley said. “What I’m doing is I’m trying to make the decisions that I think are going to win us the game. And I’m ready to live with all that smoke that comes with it. And I’ve been very transparent about that. What makes football and competition so great is that there aren’t going to be perfect decisions. But you need to be able to live with the decisions, and your team needs to know why you’re making these decisions, so that they can live with them, too. So I know the way that my mindset is. I know the way that our mindset is around here. I also understand the criticism, too, and I fully understand that as well. But I think that we’re building something really special here and I’m proud of the way that we competed last night.”

Staley rejects the idea that he’s a gambler, or that he’s reckless on fourth downs, and instead says he goes for it on fourth down because it increases the Chargers’ chances of winning.

The analytics community has been nearly unanimous that Staley made the right decisions on those fourth downs, even though the Chargers failed on two key fourth-and-goal attempts. While many coaches say the analytics community doesn’t understand the nuances of football, Staley says it’s the real football people who do understand.

88 responses to “Brandon Staley: Real football people understand what I’m doing

  1. what a clown, so sick of coaches, players, media and fans acting like it is rocketscience, it’s NOT- real football people, sounds pretty much like a desperation plea to not be judged on your decisions, if you can’t handle that you should not be coaching in NFL

  2. I understand what you did. Your decisions cost your team 1st place. Kick 1 field goal and you are a winner. Go for it twice and fail is not a good reason to fail a 3rd time. It was a big game. So Please listen to this Brandon,”people with a brain know YOUR decisions cost your team 1st place.”

  3. Real football people like Bill Belichick who thinks your approach is idiotic…lol…this so called boy genius is very unlikeable .

  4. I’m with this coach 100%. Most of us have never coached Pop Warner, yet we’re giving out advice. Gee, I wonder why coach isn’t listening.

  5. I didn’t have a problem with going for it on fourth down, it was the play calls that sucked. The fourth down play calls were tight passing routes that were hard to complete. They were running all over the Chiefs and not only did they abandon the run on fourth down, they continued to try to pass for touchdowns inside the five. And when they finally seemed to shift, they gave the ball to a third string back who fumbled. You have Austin Eckler on your roster. He’s one of the top-5 backs in the league you idiots. Run the ball!

  6. I get your offensive unit has been better than your kicking game thus far, but let’s not act like you were turning away multiple 55yd FG attempts here. These were gimmes, less than PATs.

  7. My analytics say if you have more points than the other team when the clock reaches zero you win 100% of the time.

    You bypassed at least 9 points on a gamble at it cost you the game.

    Always take the points.

  8. This the NFL not “Franchise Mode on Madden.” The Chargers gave away the most important game of their season because Staley thinks he’s hacked the system. Gimmicks don’t win in the NFL, and I’m sure he’ll die on that hill sooner than later.

  9. How about not taking a time out with the clock stopped at 1:16 when Bosa was clearly gassed. You needed Bosa off the field or to give the defense a breather. Mahomes ran last Bosa for 30 yards on the next play.

    I think most real football people realize it’s all guess work with Staley. This team is immensely talented, but poorly coached. Belichick would be 14-0 with this group of players.

  10. I guess that means he thinks the people who really understand the game are the analytics people. If he has a suspect kicking game why did he kick the extra point, which was longer than some of the 4th downs? Plus 2 points after their 3rd touchdown puts them up 9, two scores. The last few minutes might have played out much differently if they made it. If they don’t make the 2pt then they are still up 7 KC would have probably kicked theirs to tie. There was little downside to going for 2 at that point. It seems that’s what analytics would probably say that’s what they should have done.

  11. Real Football People understand you lost a game where getting just one of those FGs you bypassed would have been enough to win the game….

  12. Mathematically speaking, he’s lowered the statistic that says go for on it on 4th and X. And he’s right to say percentage wise, they should’ve made at least one of those, but the trend didn’t say so. Which do you follow?

  13. Try 5 FGs and likely make 4 = 12 points. Make all 5 get 15 points.

    Go for 4th down 5 times. Convert twice and score TDs = 12 points.

    Fail 3 times, result in the Chiefs being pinned back around their own 5. KC turns it over on one of the series, giving LA another TD = 6 points.

    So he gave up the 15 points and got 18 points.

    How can you argue that Staley’s strategy was anything other than a net positive?

  14. Staley is a leading candidate for Coach of the Year. I’ve never coached in my life, but let me tell him how to do his job.

  15. It might be unpopular including in these comments but kicking isn’t the route to victory in most NFL games.

  16. The 4th down attemot at the end of the half was wrong, old school or analytics wise. Why?

    Because going for it on 4th down deep in enemy territory is based off of the possibility of a safety after turning it over on downs OR of getting a 3 and out and the positive field position afterwards

    Doing it ay the end of the half, ypu dont get any of that benefit if you fail on 4th down because the half is over.

    He can argue the other 2 times, but this one was dumb. Boneheaded. Coaching malpractice. Staley at least needs to own that.

  17. Real football people understand that you lost a must win game at home to a division rival and that your defense imploded in the 4th quarter and OT.

  18. The team lost because of your dumb decisions coach. Take the points and you would have won the game instead of going to OT. Analytics arent always the way to go

  19. But for a freak incident – Parham makes that catch 7/10 times – this is a very different conversation. They had the right play on to score there.

  20. One problem I had with Staley is he didn’t call plays consistent with a four down strategy if that was an approach preplanned.

    Each play was run in its own silo as if the next play or the overall game-plan didn’t matter.

    His QB is 6’6”, 237 and athletic and despite a four down strategy he’s handing off or throwing bullet passes to covered guys from the two yard line. Why not let Hebert run it up the gut?

  21. I can see going for it once on 4th down and giving up field goals. But 3 times? Those decisions have to demoralize the team when they don’t make it on 4th down. It’s a fire-able offense. It reeks of desperation. It sends the wrong message to his team, that he doesn’t trust them to win if they just kick field goals. What a joke

  22. The problem with Staley’s analysis is that he forgot that when you decide to go for it on fourth down you should be dialing up a winner of a play. I don’t know if it was him or OC Joe Lombardi, but the red-zone play calling was terrible.

  23. Many early commenters misunderstood the first comment. 31 teams WANT you to keep it up for their advantage.

  24. I see nothing wrong with his boom or bust coaching style.

    His Players need to execute.
    I’m sure if his 4th down attempts were success full he would have some sort of silly/enduring nickname like “not punt Staley” or something

  25. I LOVE how NFL people talk to fans like their idiots and have no clue. IF he kicks the FG’s in that game they would have won it. Their big analytics shtick is getting old. It’s proving to be VERY ineffective and wrong. Common sense says kick the FG, get the points, win the game.

  26. Fireable offense…cost the game…snowflakes.

    When you lose by two points, it’s not only that single conversion that made the difference, there’s 60 minutes of football and 100 plays…

  27. Finally, these coaches are being held accountable for their decisions. Too often, they hide behind analytics. They say, “analytics says it was the right decision, so you can’t criticize me.” The problem is that they are using analytics improperly. Analytics came from economics. There is a widely accepted economics theory called “Modern Portfolio Theory” which states that if you have two courses of action which projects different but similar outcomes, meaning is football analytics, expected points to go for it is 4, and expected points to kick is 3, you do not always choose the one with the highest projection. If they are relatively close, i.e. 1 point different, you choose the less volatile decision which would be taking the 3 points. Only if the projected outcomes are very different, say, going for it, the expected points was 6 and kicking the FG the expected points was 3, that you would choose the more volatile one. But like Chris Collinsworth on SNF, he always says, its better to go for it than kick, but the differences are marginal. It’s like when the GPS tells you to take an alternate route because it will save you 2 minutes. You end up on back roads, instead of the main highway. And you rarely ever save the minute or two.

  28. There are times to go for it on 4th down, and times not to. The statistics do not tell you the difference. It’s what separates coaching competence.

    Real football people understand this.

  29. Wow I think the fans should be more angry that their QB made 4 nice passes in the red zone that the receivers flubbed like they had money on the game. Ya some questionable calls but those flubs were touch downs and were not. Dont blame the coach for that.

  30. What should be most frustrating for Chargers’ fans is that this comment shows he’s learned nothing from losing that game.

  31. Brandon, I’m sure you’re a smart guy and probably a good football coach. That being said, Thursday night you lost your way. You shouldn’t have been coaching that game to establish some sort of long term Charger identity, you should have been coaching that game to win that game. You made bad decisions that cost your team that game and first place in the AFC West. Don’t talk down to people who are pointing out your mistakes.

  32. The “real football people” comment means I can’t explain why I did what I did, so don’t ask me. The answer should have been, “we needed to be aggressive in this game going against a high powered offense and it didn’t work out.”

  33. Maybe if he would combine old school football with analytics football he would figure it out.

  34. To all the old traditionalists on here who don’t understand math and think what Staley did was wrong, maybe this angle will help.

    If going for it aggressively on 4th down wasn’t the proper expected value thing to do to maximize chances of winning, why are more and more coaches becoming like Staley and fewer and fewer coaches becoming like commentators here?

    More and more front offices and coaches are getting it. You guys are dinosaurs.

  35. ImaPayne says:
    December 18, 2021 at 9:29 am
    Wow I think the fans should be more angry that their QB made 4 nice passes in the red zone that the receivers flubbed like they had money on the game. Ya some questionable calls but those flubs were touch downs and were not. Dont blame the coach for that
    Thinking the first guy had a legit reason, since you know….he was concussed and thought to be paralysed, albeit briefly.

    Having said that. The adage says you can’t beat Championship teams kicking FGs while they score TDs. So yeah ok..
    Staley needed another coach in his ear reminding him that they were playing for better playoff position. Sweep KC and hold the tie breaker, split w/KC, potentially travel to KC in the playoffs. That simplifies things..get the points.

  36. Real football people realize that you had the pure luck to be a coordinator of the most talented defenses in the NFL for one year last year and you parlayed that into getting a HC job at a team with the most talented young QBs in the NFL, and on Thursday night you were exposed

  37. I am starting to not like this guy. He literally tried to hand the game over numerous times and lost the game for his team.

  38. You go into that game thinking fgs aren’t winning the game, fine. I can actually live with that. What’s inexcusable is starting the game with four run plays that get you 8 yds a clip then throwing 4 straight times from the two while you have a stud 17 td rb chilling on the sideline that drive and all game long!!

    His big failure was playing ekeler between the 20s and running those scrub backups on the field in the red zone when the game is on The line. That’s where he blew it! 4x!

  39. I didn’t mind going for it the first two times. Try once, you fail. Try again, you fail again. OK, but, third time, just kick the FG. As good as this coach has been, his arrogance might be his undoing long term.

  40. Brandon Staley is a bad gambler.
    Every fiber in my being was telling
    Me to take the points as I watched the game.

  41. He made his decisions based upon phony macho bs. He wanted to show that he was the smartest and toughest guy in the room. Andy Reid did the smart thing and took the points. Guess who won?

  42. Note to Staley:

    Actual GOOD coaches don’t explain or defend their decisions to “real football people”.

    B. Belichick

  43. Ah, play the “real” card. So anyone who disagrees with coach isn’t a “real” football person. That’s always been a lame excuse and it still is. Whatever. He made his decisions on going for it on fourth. It didn’t work out. They lost. They gave away points that would have won the game in regular time. I wonder how many NFL coaches would have gone for it on 4th down so many times in the red zone. I bet it’s not many. I guess that means they aren’t “real” football coaches either eh coach? Desperate coaches say things like this.

  44. You’re the coach. You made the decisions. Multiple times. Your decisions failed. Multiple times. The real football people think you screwed up.

  45. Going for it in 4th and goal from inside the 1 yard line makes sense. The other times he should have kicked and taken the points

  46. I used to respect this guy from the little I’ve seen from him. I respected him much less after the Chiefs game. But the more this guy talks, the less respect I have for him at all. No regrets about losing a game that lost his team the division because he wouldn’t do a fundamental thing like kick field goals. He’d rather lose trying to be right. I know there are times to go for it. I also know that when you have a lead, that is NOT when you go for it. I also know that when you’ve been stopped already in a tough game once, then twice, that is also not the time to go for it! But according to Staley, I’m not a “real football person”. Then neither are most of the other NFL coaches, media – including former players – or most anyone else. He pretty much said that if you don’t agree with him, you aren’t a real football person. I hope the Chargers get a new coach. The players deserve a better one than this loser.

  47. If you kicked three fgs u would have put your team in a better chance to win . Players win games Coaches lose them

  48. I’ll grab my six pack of beer, put on my favorite player’s jersey, yell and scream at the TV all day, and by Monday morning I’ll be capable of second guessing every coach. Sound familiar? Yeah, look in the mirror. It’s you!

  49. Don’t forget that Belichick lost the 2016 AFC championship to Denver by going for it on 4th down three times; got stopped each time. Pats ended up losing 20-18. Those 9 points would have made the difference.

  50. What a bozo…first learn to chew gum with your mouth closed…you are about to destroy Herbert career

  51. Most of the decisions were defensible but the 4th and goal from the 5 still befuddles me. That’s like, what, a 30% chance?

  52. It was COACHING & ONLY COACHING that lost that game for the Chargers….. THAT is what REAL football people know & understand…

  53. Why does his maturity level/arrogance remind me of Josh McDaniel when he was the HC of the Broncos?

  54. Analytics causes more teams to lose game than win them, see the thing about analytics is you have to execute the play and the other thing about analytics is it doesn’t tell you what happens if you don’t execute but you just found that out didn’t you coach?

    YOU LOSE! And this was one hell of a time to lose, in the most important game for the Chargers this year, it’d have put you in 1st place with a HUGE tie-breaker in your favor!

    Lose that ego and using analytics all the time or you won’t be a HC for very long.

  55. The legacy of Rick Morranis’ LITTLE GIANTS and the impact it’s had on an entire generation.

  56. The problem was his attitude from the start. He said you have to score TDs to keep up with the chiefs. He was showing his unwarranted fear of them thinking field goals wasnt enough. That tells his team they cant stop the chiefs fearsome offense that they can only win by going for 4th downs.

  57. At the beginning of the game, with the score 0-0, there is no reason not to take the points.

    Staley didn’t because CHIEFS EXPLOSIVE OFFENSE OMG 😬!

    And that’s a dumb decision.

  58. That’s kind of like betting on red in Roulette until you win. That’s a sucker’s bet. House always wins.

  59. Real football coaches gamble once or twice and be aggressive by winning the game and kicking a field goal. Use Ekeler at goal line as well…plus defensive guru your patty cake defense was pathetic in 4th

  60. I dont know where all the Analytics geeks get their flawed data, but decisions that analytics and mathematics tells you to make, is not even accurate. When the data is flawed, the decisions will be flawed. Browns use analytics and like Staley, have the dumbest play caller in the NFL. Analytics isn’t logical at all

  61. A real / Smart head coach uses going on 4th down and forgoing a likely FG sparingly it’s not a case of never say never but to stubbornly willy nilly do that means one thing soon you’ll be sitting in the stands along side us and we’ll be sending you to go get the beers.

  62. The problem with the way NFL people use analytics is that they only seem to measure the probabilities without weighting the possible outcomes. You have to do a cost/benefit analysis. You don’t bet $100 to win $10 if the odds are only sixty/forty. The call just before halftime was terrible because part of the analysis should be that even if you don’t get the first, your opponent is pinned deep in his own territory, so even the downside has significant upside. But that was obviated because they were going to halftime.

    You see this failure to do a cost/benefit analysis all the time when analytics guys go for it in their own territory down seven early in a game, only to fail and suddenly they’re down two scores on the way to getting blown out.

  63. Err, I think people forgot to tell him the goal of the game is to score more POINTS than the opponent in order to win?

  64. Hard to believe the Chargers dumped Anthony Lynn for this moron. They look like a one and done team in the playoffs with Staley at the helm.

  65. Talking about analytics is a complete cop out. Bottom line when you go for it on 4th down its a gamble. Take the points or go for more. Gamble. You gambled and you lost. You lost the downs and you lost a game you probably should have won

  66. What exactly are the strengths of the the team??? It definitely isn’t fourth down conversions or red zone efficiency!!

  67. Give away a few more games, and he did, like that he will soon understand that what the real definition of NFL is Not For Long.

    The use of Analytics to decide when to go for it is probably the stupidest use ever of deciding what to do. Analytics do not account for momentum (unless someone smart assigned a number into the model) for what type of players and availability of players at that time, is the defense tired or fresh, crown noise, what the potential for penalties (see crowd noise), desperation, apparently the Chargers do not account for the other team’s score, stupid coaching decisions and Analytics are basically the same for everybody and become quite predictable of what that team is going to do.

  68. Don’t mind that he has conviction that his way works for them, but “Real” football people? Seriously? So, anyone who disagrees with him is what? Fake football people? Imaginary football people? Stupid football people? There’s a difference between confidence and hubris.

  69. I liked it. Made for an entertaining game.

    If my coach did this, I wouldn’t be very amused.

  70. Sorry, but I don’t have a problem for coaches coaching to win! Too many times you see teams trying to position themselves for field goals and it comes back to bite them in the end. Go down swinging, I’m all for it.

  71. I don’t mind the gambles and I understand the logic. The problem is that he has no track record of head coaching success in the NFL to fall back on, and his arrogance in effect doubles down on his failure.

    On a related topic, John Madden (remember him?-only the winningest coach, percentage-wise, in NFL history, before he went into broadcasting, and before he helped popularize a video game bearing his name) always said “the toughest points to get in a game are your team’s first points”. Meaning – don’t overlook the value of a FG to get on the board, even though it was rooted in his era, when kickers were statistically less reliable than they are today. Likewise, teams chase things like two point conversions, overlooking the value that the relative security of an extra point brings

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