June 21, 2024

Las Vegas already fired its head coach, and Buffalo dumped its offensive coordinator Tuesday.

In Carolina, Frank Reich is now taking back the offensive play-calling he handed off to one of his assistants just three games ago.

Struggling NFL teams in search of answers are making big changes in hopes of spurring big improvements.

There will be no such developments this week with the Chargers, coach Brandon Staley saying Wednesday that he will continue to call the defensive plays for a unit that has lacked any sort of consistency.

“I think that every situation is different,” Staley said. “I think if you feel like it gives you the best chance to win — or you think that it could spark your team or something — people do that. But we don’t feel like that’s the direction that we’re going to take.”

Staley’s defense yielded 41 points and 533 total yards to Detroit on Sunday, the Lions averaging 8.3 yards per play. Though a season-worst in points, the Chargers gave up more yardage (536) in a 36-34 Week 1 loss to Miami.

This is a defense that has been last in the NFL in yards passing since that season opener and repeatedly has been gashed for explosive moments. Detroit had eight plays that gained at least 20 yards.

The refrain has been a familiar one during Staley’s tenure, the Chargers unable to correct issues that have lingered.

“We always preach that if we make a mistake, try not to make it again,” cornerback Ja’Sir Taylor said. “We sit in the film room week after week fixing the same mistakes.”

 Chargers defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley instructs during practice.

Derrick Ansley is the Chargers defensive coordinator but does not get to call the plays during games.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Rampant speculation about Staley’s job security swelled in the aftermath of another underwhelming defensive showing as the Chargers again slipped below .500, falling to 4-5.

When Staley met with reporters at the team’s Costa Mesa facility, he was asked if the Chargers have considered any “significant changes” defensively.

“We have not,” Staley answered. “We believe in how we play, and we believe in the guys that we’re playing with. You’re going to make adjustments throughout the year but nothing significant.”

In his third season, Staley’s teams have gone 23-20 with one playoff appearance. Entering Week 11, the 2023 Chargers are 12th in the AFC. The top seven qualify for the playoffs.

While Justin Herbert’s right arm has been largely responsible for the Chargers remaining successful on offense, the defense continues to drag down the franchise.

Staley was hired in January 2021 after one very productive year coordinating the Rams’ defense. That 2020 group led the NFL in fewest points and yards allowed.

But Staley has been unable to match — or come particularly close to matching — that production over the last three seasons.

The soggy showing against the Lions was just the latest example of the Chargers trying to explain how a team with ample talent can continue to fail to produce fitting results.

“Not playing to our standard frustrates us all,” linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. said. “We all expect to go out there and play elite defense. Everybody in here is frustrated. We all feel a sense of urgency to get things fixed.”

The Chargers were coming off consecutive solid defensive efforts in comfortable victories over the Chicago Bears and New York Jets.

But those teams were playing backup quarterbacks and featured offenses that have not been especially productive.

Detroit is 7-2 and one of the NFC’s top teams and has an offense that ranks in the top four in both rushing and passing.

This has been a pattern under Staley, the Chargers playing well against lesser foes but crumbling against opponents with more firepower.

“It definitely hurts our pride, especially when you’re trying to build off the games we had right before,” Taylor said. “We felt like we were moving in the right direction and then it’s a gut punch.”

Against the Lions, the lowlights were glaring. David Montgomery had a 75-yard touchdown run on which he was barely — if at all —touched. Amon-Ra St. Brown had a 20-yard catch-and-run touchdown on which he definitely wasn’t touched.

 Lions tight end Brock Wright (89) makes a touchdown catch against the Chargers.

Lions tight end Brock Wright (89) makes a 25-yard touchdown catch against the Chargers.

(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Detroit converted a fourth-and-five by running the ball and hit reserve tight end Brock Wright for his first touchdown of the season after a Jared Goff play fake that duped Murray and safeties Derwin James Jr. and Alohi Gilman.

“My name is on it,” James said of the loss to the Lions. “Everyone’s name is on it. I don’t like the way it feels.”

On Sunday, the Chargers will play at Green Bay, the Packers another team that has had limited success on offense. Quarterback Jordan Love has been uneven in his first season trying to replace Aaron Rodgers but the Chargers still have Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes on their schedule, with little room for losses.

“We have to really detach ourselves from the outcome and be process-focused at this point,” Murray said. “We’ve done that this season and we’ve gotten great results. We gotta get back to that.”

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