Justin Herbert Says Chargers Believe in Brandon Staley After Collapse vs. Jaguars

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 15, 2023

INGLEWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 25: Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley looks on with quarterback Justin Herbert (10) before the NFL regular season game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Los Angeles Chargers on September 25, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Chargers apparently still believe in head coach Brandon Staley even after Saturday's stunning collapse in a playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"We believe in Coach Staley," quarterback Justin Herbert said, per Bridget Condon of the NFL Network. "We believe in the front office."

The Chargers and their fans would be forgiven if some of that belief is shaken.

Los Angeles built a 27-0 lead by the second quarter of Saturday's contest and appeared to be in full control. Austin Ekeler scored two touchdowns, and the defense intercepted Trevor Lawrence four times, all in the first half. It was easy to start thinking about a potential matchup between the Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs in the next round.

However, Lawrence's touchdown pass to Evan Engram right before the half switched the tenure of the entire game.

Jacksonville came storming back in the second half behind three more touchdown passes from Lawrence and a game-winning field goal by Riley Patterson. The Chargers managed three points after intermission despite trotting out an offense that featured Herbert, Ekeler and Keenan Allen.

The Chargers had a 10-point lead with fewer than nine minutes remaining and a 4th-and-3 on Jacksonville's 22-yard line when Staley decided to kick a field goal. Cameron Dicker missed it, but the situation wouldn't have been drastically different even if he made it by keeping the game where the Jaguars would win with two touchdowns.

Had Los Angeles gone for it and converted before eventually scoring a touchdown to push the advantage to three scores, the game would have been all but over.

The Chargers have failed to win a playoff game in three seasons with Herbert as their quarterback. Talent is rarely an issue for the franchise, but injuries and strange occurrences like Saturday's contest seem to constantly undercut the underachieving franchise.

Perhaps a better coaching staff could have capitalized on a roster that was loaded with stars on both sides of the field. It also likely would have helped to have wide receiver Mike Williams healthy and available for the playoffs, but he suffered an injury in a meaningless Week 18 game that Staley decided to play the starters in instead of resting them.

It was a brutal end of the season for the Chargers, and they will be left thinking about what could have been throughout the offseason.