Chargers Justin Herbert, Derwin James Jr., Joey Bosa vouch for 'incredible leader' Brandon Staley

Brandon Staley is under fire.

The Los Angeles Chargers' head coach is facing calls for his job following Saturday's collapse from a 27-0 lead to an AFC wild-card loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Those calls aren't coming from the Chargers' locker room.

The team's most prominent players vouched for their head coach as they met with media Sunday in the wake of Saturday night's stunning loss. Quarterback Justin Herbert told reporters that players "100%" back Staley and the Chargers' front office helmed by general manager Tom Telesco.

"We believe in coach Staley and the front office 100%," Herbert said. "Everyone would be lucky to have a coach like Staley. He has been an incredible leader. He has the respect of everyone on our team.”

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 13: Head coach Brandon Staley and Justin Herbert #10 of the Los Angeles Chargers are seen on the field prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on November 13, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Justin Herbert has Brandon Staley's back. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Derwin James Jr. echoed Herbert's sentiments. The All-Pro safety and team captain called Staley his "guy."

"That's my guy," James said, per NFL Network's Bridget Condon. "He's put a lot into it. A lot of guys believe in him in the locker room. I definitely believe in him."

He also preached patience for the second-year head coach.

"I don't feel like it happens overnight," James said. "I feel like what we built here and what we've continued to build every day, it's something special. And that first half definitely showed that."

Should the Chargers move on from Staley?

Thanks to his aggressive game management and penchant for calculated gambles, Staley has been a controversial figure since he took over the Chargers' sideline. Missing the playoffs last season was a disappointment. The Chargers advanced this season, but did so without wide receiver Mike Williams, a key player who could have made a difference in a close game.

Williams was sidelined because of a back fracture sustained in the Chargers' regular-season finale, a meaningless game that saw Staley play his starters despite being locked into the AFC's No. 5 seed. The decision and the ensuing injury increased the heat on Staley as the Chargers faced their first postseason game since the 2018 season.

Then the Chargers got off to a scorching start in Jacksonville, thanks in part to Staley's defensive scheme that forced Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence into four first-half interceptions. After that, the wheels fell off.

A series of Chargers mistakes allowed the Jaguars back into the game as Jacksonville outscored Los Angeles, 24-3 in the second half and secured a 31-30 win with a last-second field goal. Along the way, a scene on the Chargers sideline encapsulated the meltdown.

Pro Bowl pass rusher Joey Bosa, frustrated with a series of calls that didn't go his way, slammed his helmet to the turf as he left the field in the fourth quarter. Staley picked the helmet up and handed it back to Bosa, who immediately slammed it to the turf again.

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It wasn't a great look for Bosa or Staley. Bosa said on Sunday not to blame his head coach.

"Why did I slam my helmet on the floor?" Bosa said. "He picked it up for me and tried to calm me down and get me in order and I grabbed it from him and threw it on the ground again. How's that his fault? It's my fault."

Bosa added he's "grown to really like my coaches" and that success "doesn't happen overnight."

"Staley got us to the playoffs against all odds," Bosa said of a team that made the postseason despite a torrent of injuries to key players.

Not long ago, Staley was lauded as one of football's most innovative young coaches. Now Chargers management faces a big decision as outside pressure mounts against him. A lurking Sean Payton — who's taking calls from teams after a season off from the New Orleans Saints' sideline — isn't helping Staley's cause.

One major point is working in Staley's favor. He won't lose his job because he lost his locker room.