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Chargers' Brandon Staley on 4th-Down Decisions: 'Ready to Live with All That Smoke'

Adam WellsDecember 18, 2021

Inglewood, CA, Thursday, December 16, 2021 - Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley on the sidelines as the Chargers take on the Kansas City Chiefs at SoFi Stadium. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley has no regrets about his decision to go for it on fourth down multiple times during Thursday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs. 

In a video posted on the Chargers' Twitter account, Staley said he's "trying to make the decisions that I think are gonna win us the game" and is "ready to live with all the smoke that comes with it."

Los Angeles Chargers @chargers

πŸ—£ <a href="https://t.co/I7gRWFdRyO">pic.twitter.com/I7gRWFdRyO</a>

In his first season as a head coach, Staley has shown himself to be very aggressive when it comes to fourth-down decisions. The Chargers lead the NFL with 15 fourth-down conversions and rank third with 26 attempts. 

Los Angeles converted two of five fourth-down attempts against the Chiefs, but the three that didn't succeed led to criticism about Staley's decision-making process. 

Harold R. Kuntz @HaroldRKuntz3

At one point for Brandon Staley does aggression and trust in the analytics just become .. stupid.

Armando Salguero @ArmandoSalguero

Admire Brandon Staley's courage. But his wisdom on some of these fourth-down decisions?

The Chargers nearly converted their first fourth-down attempt on the opening drive of the game. Justin Herbert hit tight end Donald Parham Jr. with a perfect pass in the back of the end zone, but Parham dropped the ball after hitting his head on the turf. 

Parham had to be taken off the field on a stretcher and remained in the hospital overnight after being diagnosed with a concussion. 

The second failed attempt came from the Chiefs' one-yard line at the end of the first half when Daniel Sorensen batted down Herbert's pass intended for Keenan Allen. 

Los Angeles' final failed fourth-down attempt came on its first possession of the second half. Herbert's pass to Jared Cook on 4th-and-2 from Kansas City's 28-yard line fell incomplete. 

Staley faced criticism because, in theory, the Chargers left nine points on the board by not kicking a field goal each time. They lost the game 34-28 in overtime to fall to 8-6, two games behind the Chiefs in the AFC West race with three games remaining. 

Dustin Hopkins has been very accurate since joining the Chargers on Oct. 26. He has made 12 of 13 field-goal attempts in eight games. 

Per NFL Next Gen Stats, the Chargers' odds of winning the game increased by at least 3.3 percent on four of the five fourth-down attempts. 

When the Chiefs and Chargers played in Week 3, Staley elected to go for it on 4th-and-9 in a tie game with 48 seconds remaining. They converted when Deandre Baker was called for a 15-yard pass interference penalty. 

Los Angeles scored a touchdown two plays later to earn a 30-24 win over the Chiefs. 

Staley's aggressive brand of coaching will occasionally lead to some moments that don't work, but the early results from his first season as a head coach indicate the strategy will lead to more success than failure.