Chargers still believe in Staley after historic 63-21 loss to rival Raiders


LAS VEGAS (AP) — Los Angeles Chargers defensive leader Khalil Mack said he didn’t have his unit ready after Thursday’s historic 63-21 loss to their AFC West rival Las Vegas Raiders.

In an even bigger statement, he made it clear the team still believes in coach Brandon Staley.

“Of course we believe in him,” Mack said. “And he believes in us. This can’t be a disconnect, when you love this (expletive) the way that I do.”

Now it’s a matter of whether or not team owner Dean Spanos believes in the guy who is well on his way to his worst record since taking over in 2021 after the Chargers allowed more than 57 points for the first time in franchise history.

“I don’t know,” Staley answered when asked if he expected to still be coach of the Chargers on Friday.

“Yes,” he added, when asked if he thought he should be. “I know that what I’ve done here for three years and I know what I put into this. … I believe in myself. But again, this isn’t about me This is about a group that’s hurting in there.”

On the contrary, it’s every bit about Staley, as speculation has been building for weeks about his future since the Chargers went into a tailspin after opening the season 4-4.

Los Angeles has now lost five of six, and has been outscored 171-102 along the way.

“We came here expecting to win,” said Staley, whose three-year record with the Chargers fell to 24-25. “I came in here expecting to win. We just got our (butts) kicked. That’s all that happened. This is the NFL. People get hurt. (Stuff) happens. We’ve got to finish and play better than that.”

Added Mack: “This is embarrassing. It was probably one of the nastiest, ugliest losses of my career.”

The Chargers’ defense came into the game allowing the 16th-most points per game (21.7), the fifth-highest passer rating to opponents (96.6), and the fifth-most yards per play (5.6).

To go along with their 63 points, Raiders rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell finished with a 120.7 rating and Las Vegas averaged 6.0 yards per play.

Meanwhile, Easton Stick threw for 257 yards, completing 23 of 32 attempts, including three touchdowns and one interception.

Though the Chargers finished with 326 yards of offense, most of their production came during fourth-quarter garbage time.

They also committed five turnovers, with four lost fumbles and Stick’s interception returned for a touchdown.

“It’s tough when you go down three turnovers in the half,” Stick said. “It starts and ends with me. Really frustrating.”

The Chargers trailed 42-0 at halftime, also the most points they’ve allowed in the first half of a game in franchise history.

“We got our (butts) kicked, that’s all I got for you,” disgruntled running back Austin Ekeler said as he exited the locker room.

The Chargers went 9-8 in Staley’s first year in 2021 and 10-8 last season when they made the playoffs.

And at 5-9, they’re assured of a losing record for the fifth time in nine years.

After their primetime debacle in Las Vegas, there’s effectively zero chance the Chargers are going to the postseason.

“We love coach, I love coach,” Stick added. “Tonight was really tough. We’re the ones on the field and it starts with me.”

Nevertheless, with plenty of time to prepare for Buffalo’s visit on Dec. 23, only one question remains for the Chargers.

Has it become a matter of when, not if, Staley is fired?


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