Last season, in his first year as coach of the Chargers, Brandon Staley became known for his aggressive game management. Decisions to go for it on fourth down in the Chargers’ own territory earned Staley some fans, while gaining critics as well.
Last night, however, Staley relied on a more conservative approach. On multiple fourth-and-shorts, Staley chose to either kick a field goal or punt the ball away instead of trying to convert the first down.
After the game, Staley explained that his confidence in the Chargers defense was the main reason why he made those decisions.
“Just wanted to give our defense a chance to compete. I really loved the way we were playing,” he told reporters after Thursday night’s 27-24 loss at Kansas City. “I felt like that was the formula to flip the field. I felt like we were aggressive when we needed to be tonight. We converted all four of our fourth downs. I just felt like, with who is over there and the way our defense is playing, I felt like the field position would be a big edge for our defense to be able to put them back there. I like the way our defense competed tonight.”
In 2021, the Chargers converted 22 of 34 fourth-down attempts for the fourth-highest conversion rate in the league.
However, this year it certainly appears that Los Angeles feels better about its defense. The Chargers added Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson and Kyle Van Noy to bolster the unit, and they did play well against a prolific Kansas City offense.
With that in mind, it appears as if Staley’s confidence in his defense will influence his game management decisions this season.
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