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Brandon Staley is a hit in Chargers camp so far

Los Angeles Chargers Training Camp Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Brandon Staley was the most sought after head coaching candidate in the NFL in 2021, and I know this because he was hired by the Los Angeles Chargers. It’s not necessarily that I trust Chargers management more than the other teams who were searching (though that is an argument against some of the hires) but consider it from Staley’s point of view after he had been interviewed by four different teams.

I know that Staley was the most attractive hire because there is no question that the Chargers had the most attractive opportunity. Most coaches are hired, but in this case it feels more like Staley hired the team with the most potential.

Through one offseason and one week of training camp, Staley has won over the other team in SoFi Stadium, one year after he helped the Los Angeles Rams rank as the number one defense in the NFL.

A veteran who is especially impressed by Staley is defensive tackle Linval Joseph, a legitimate candidate for the all-2010s team who won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants in 2011 and was a two-time Pro Bowler for the Minnesota Vikings. Joseph called Staley “one of the best coaches” he’s had in his career and he’s happy that the Chargers brought Staley in:

“I mean, to be honest with you, he’s probably one of the best coaches I’ve had in 12 years. He’s a family man. He loves football. He wants the best for his players and wants you to be an overall good person. I feel like it’s more than just football with him. I feel like it’s a family. I feel like since he got here and over the whole OTAs have happened, it’s brought us closer together. When we were able to come together for OTAs, it showed us how much he cares on and off the field.

“Once again, he’s a little bit younger. He’s 38-years old. He has a lot of energy. He loves his job. He loves his family. I feel like this was a good decision to bring him in.”

Having Joseph on the team must have been one selling point to Staley, a coach who has a history of working with exceptional defensive linemen. But Staley also opted to leave behind a defense with Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey for one that has Joey Bosa, Derwin James, Chris Harris, and Joseph, plus a deep rotation of players who appear capable of becoming Pro Bowl caliber.

Defensive tackle Justin Jones has also been impressed with Staley’s mind for that side of the ball, saying that “Offenses aren’t ready for it.”

The Chargers shared a video last week of Staley mic’d up for training camp and the first-time head coach appears comfortable beyond his years.

In addition to Bosa and Derwin, Staley will coach a defense that features linebackers Kenneth Murray and Drue Tranquill, a defensive line with recent first round pick Jerry Tillery, and a secondary with Nasir Adderley, Michael Davis, and rookie second round cornerback Asante Samuel, Jr.

It’s certainly a group of players that will believe they’re as talented as the 2020 Rams that ranked first in many key defensive categories.

But of course the main attraction to Staley had to be second-year quarterback Justin Herbert, the most exciting player to enter the NFL since Patrick Mahomes took over main entertainment duties in 2018.

Around Herbert, the Chargers will feature receivers Kenny Allen and Mike Williams, tight end Jared Cook, running backs Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, and an offensive line with 2020’s top-rated free agent tackle in Bryan Bulaga, 2021’s top-rated free agent center in Corey Linsley, and first round pick offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, who has drawn rave reviews in camp.

It’s enough to understand why some people believe that Staley and Herbert can get the better of Andy Reid and Mahomes this season.

There was nothing the Rams could do to keep Brandon Staley — who they’ll see on August 14th at SoFi Stadium in the preseason opener — but at least they’re getting a first-hand look at his debut NFL season as a head coach.