The Chargers converted an NFL-high 22 fourth downs last season, and head coach Brandon Staley earned a reputation for using analytics in his fourth-down decision making. But Staley says he doesn’t just follow the numbers.
“All of those decisions are about feel, all of them are — they’re about mindset, then there’s the math that’s also a part of it, but it’s more mindset than math, I can assure you that,” Staley said today. “It’s the way that we want to play, as a team. I think that we’re going to try and get better at it as we go.”
Staley said he likes showing his players he believes in them by expecting them to pick up first downs, rather than sending the punter on the field.
“I think that we have full confidence in our team and how we do things,” Staley said. “I think each of those things has a life of its own — that’s what I’ve said from the beginning. I know that kind of exploded last year. I do think it’s a positive thing for our team because we want to be aggressive. We want to have a team that’s fearless. It’s not scared to meet a moment. Every decision has a life of its own. You’re going to take it case-by-case. We have a brand new team, so to say that we’re going to do it exactly like we did last year, that won’t be the case.”
Staley will surely be among the NFL’s more aggressive coaches this season as well. Whether it’s mindset or math, he’s at the head of a growing number of coaches who believe that going for it on fourth down more frequently is a winning formula.