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Chargers LB Khalil Mack: Players still 'believe in' Brandon Staley despite 42-point loss to Raiders

EDITOR'S NOTE: This post was published prior to the Los Angeles Chargers announcing the firings of head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco on Friday.

Following Thursday night's 63-21 debacle in Las Vegas, Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James verbalized what a national audience knew early: "We didn't show up ready to play today."

It was evident from the outset the Chargers were ill-prepared to play. Missed tackles, pitiful effort, turnovers, miscommunications, penalties. L.A. faced a Raiders team that lost 3-0 four days prior and made them look like the Joe Montana-led 49ers.

When a team plays with such woeful energy and pitiful preparedness, the finger of blame points to the head coach.

Brandon Staley has been under fire since the playoff collapse last season. As ridiculous as losing a 27-0 second-quarter lead in the postseason is, getting shellacked 42-0 at the break in historic fashion by a Raiders team with an interim head coach feels worse.

Asked Thursday night if he still expects to be the Chargers coach on Friday, Staley responded: "I don't know," per the Associated Press.

Should he be?

"Yes," he said.


"I know what I've done here for three years," he said, falling to 24-25 as head coach, including playoffs. "I know what I've put into this, and I know where we're capable of going," he continued. "I know the type of coach that I am. I believe in myself. But again, this isn't about me. This is about a group that's hurting in there. We got to get some rest, and we got to get ready for Buffalo."

The Chargers looked like a team playing without its star quarterback, Justin Herbert, and receiver, Keenan Allen, and seemed to mentally check out before they even boarded the plane to Vegas.

"This is embarrassing. It was probably one of the nastiest, ugliest losses of my career," pass rusher Khalil Mack said.

"We got embarrassed," James said.

"We got our (butts) kicked, that's all I got for you," running back Austin Ekeler added.

The game began with a Chargers three-and-out, with backup QB Easton Stick making his first career NFL start. The Raiders, who didn't score a point in 12 drives last week, then waltzed down the field on a 68-yard touchdown drive. L.A. fumbled on its next two drives, setting up short fields for Raiders TDs, and the route was on. Staley's club didn't stop the bleeding until it was down six scores.

"Games like this happen in the NFL, to every coach that's ever coached in this league. … I don't need to retrace history, but it's part of sports," Staley said. "Sometimes there are games where it doesn't go right. None of it. And you got to put it behind you, and you got to move on to the next thing."

Sure, coaches who hang around long enough will experience blowout losses. Bill Belichick had the "We're on to Cincinnati" game. Heck even this year, Sean Payton got walloped in Miami, giving up 70 points before turning the season around.

But the embarrassments for Staley have become all too frequent. His defense is a sieve. The offensive changes haven't produced notable upgrades. Worst, the players didn't show up for a road game against a division rival on prime time.

"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."

Added Stick: "We love coach, I love coach. Tonight was really tough. We're the ones on the field, and it starts with me."

As admirable as it was for Stick to try to shoulder the blame, only one man can truly accept responsibility for Thursday's fiasco. When a team lays such an egg that it's clear to every spectator and fan that they weren't prepared properly, it underscores that the head coach is either saying the wrong things or his voice is not being heard in the locker room. In those cases, it's time for a new voice.

Thursday night, two teams entered 5-8. One was already playing under an interim head coach. That team looked angry at how it'd performed in a loss the week before and mentally prepared to take it out on the opponent. The other was playing without its star quarterback. Instead of rallying around the backup and raising their play, they looked resigned to their fate.

That's how a humiliation happens.

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