Chargers hire Rams DC Brandon Staley as head coach

AP Sports

FILE – In this Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020 file photo, Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley watches his players before an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Fla. Brandon Staley has only been the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator for 13 games, and everybody already knows he could be on his way up. The 37-year-old Staley’s name is prominent in NFL circles this month as the league’s less successful teams plot their next head coaching hire.(AP Photo/Doug Murray, File)

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Brandon Staley won’t have to move that far for his first head coaching opportunity.

Staley agreed to become the Los Angeles Chargers’ coach on Sunday night after one season as the defensive coordinator for the crosstown Rams.

The Chargers made the decision to hire Staley after their second interview with him. The interview was held a day after the Rams were eliminated from the playoffs with a 32-18 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

“It’s not just that Brandon possesses a tremendous football mind that makes him the ideal head coach to lead our team forward,” general manager Tom Telesco said in a statement. “It’s that he excels in the ability to effectively tailor, apply and communicate his concepts to players.

“It’s clear that Brandon will not be outworked. He’s the football equivalent of a gym rat, and that has earned him the universal respect of the players he has coached throughout his journey.”

The 38-year old Staley was in demand with interviews also scheduled with the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles. He also had an interview with the New York Jets before they hired Robert Saleh last Thursday.

Staley, who will be formally introduced Thursday, replaces Anthony Lynn, who was fired on Jan. 4 after going 7-9 this past season. Lynn had a 33-31 mark in four seasons and led the Chargers to the divisional round of the playoffs in 2018.

The Los Angeles opening was widely considered the most attractive of the seven this offseason with plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Justin Herbert is considered the favorite for AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.

“It’s hard to put into words just how excited I am for the opportunity,” Staley said in a statement. “While this is certainly a dream come true, it’s also a dream that’s just beginning. There’s a reason this was probably the most sought after job out there — from ownership, to the fans, to the city, to the men in that locker room — it’s the total package.”

The distance between the Chargers and Rams training facilities is 83 miles, but Staley’s journey to an NFL head coach has taken him from playing quarterback at the University of Dayton to 11 years as a collegiate assistant.

He has been an NFL assistant for only four years. He joined the Rams this past season after being a linebackers coach with the Chicago Bears (2017) and Denver Broncos (2018-19).

His impact on the Rams was immediate as he coached a unit that led the league in points and yards allowed.

He is the third assistant under Rams coach Sean McVay to get an NFL head coaching job, joining Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur and Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor.

“I think any time that you have those situations arise, that’s one of the most gratifying things,” McVay said Sunday during his season-ending news conference. “That’s also really a unique thing to see him come in and do such a great job, then immediately be a prime candidate for a lot of these openings and you realize how precious these opportunities are.”

Broncos offensive coordinator Ed Donatell, who worked with Staley for three years, called him “the Sean McVay of defense” this past season to Denver reporters and said he is ready to be a head coach despite limited coordinator experience.

“I’ve been around for three decades coaching and every once in a while, a young, bright guy who sees the game globally comes around,” Donatell said. “He sees offense, defense and special teams and he knows how they work. He is a young, bright mind that sees it all and can communicate with people.”

Staley was one of six candidates to interview with Los Angeles. Buffalo offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, whose team will play at Kansas City in the AFC championship game next Sunday, was considered the front-runner until Staley’s second interview.

The Chargers also interviewed offensive coordinators Eric Bieniemy (Kansas City), Jason Garrett (New York Giants) and Joe Brady (Carolina) as well as Indianapolis defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus.

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve known Brandon for five minutes or five years,” president of football operations John Spanos said in a statement. “What quickly becomes apparent is the amount of energy and passion he approaches each and every moment with. The consistency of that enthusiasm is unique and, most importantly, it drives his ability to connect with people.

“His coaching journey to this particular moment is inspiring; if not for the sheer perseverance and determination of it all, then certainly for the dramatic results it has produced for the teams and players he has coached.”

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