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

Mike Florio and Myles Simmons react to the Chargers being unsuccessful on the majority of their fourth-down conversions and explain how Brandon Staley’s approach values process over results.

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.