COSTA MESA, California – He starts each morning with a cup of hot coffee that he takes to the Los Angeles Chargers training camp.
“Nothing cold in the Staley household,” says Chargers trainer Brandon Staley. “It puts me in the right focus on my path early on.”
Focus is important, especially now that this season has become a stressful one, and so the hot coffee is here, along with Staley’s unwavering optimism.
“I really love doing that,” he said. “I feel like I’m after nine games, I have a pretty good sense of who we are as a team and where we are, where we have to go. It’s a good thing.”
The season began with victories against the Washington Football Team, Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders and Cleveland Browns on their way to a 4-1 start. The Chargers caused a sensation with aggressive fourth-down calls and exemplary play from quarterback Justin Herbert in the second year. Then came two losses to the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots before a win over the Philadelphia Eagles when everything seemed right again, only to fall back with a 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at the time.
And now three starters – linebacker Drue Tranquill, Defensive Tackle Jerry Tillery and Defensive End Joey Bosa – are on the Reserve / COVID-19 list and possibly for Sunday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at SoFi Stadium (8:20 p.m. ET .) from, ABC).
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Tranquill (who missed the Vikings game) and Tillery say they are vaccinated. So if both test negative twice more than 24 hours apart and are symptom-free, they can be released for return. Bosa is reportedly unvaccinated and is said to be a close contact. So if he tests negative after a five-day quarantine, he too could play in time for the game on Sunday evening.
The Chargers need Bosa, who leads the Chargers with 5½ sacks and leads the league with three strip sacks.
All may not be lost and Staley is optimistic. Even at 5-4, the Chargers have a 66.9% chance of reaching the playoffs according to the FPI, even on the youngest 1-3 stretch. They are half a game behind the Chiefs and currently have the head-to-head tiebreaker over themselves and the 5-4 Raiders.
But in the Vikings game, Staley wasn’t as brave at fourth deficit as most of the season, especially in the Browns and Chiefs wins. With 4:40 remaining and 27:17 lost, the Chargers faced fourth and 2 from the 6-yard line against the Vikings. Staley, who took almost everyone by surprise, decided to kick and, he said, took three points from a 24-yard field goal and made it a one-ball game. Still, they had to get the ball back and one Score a goal, which they did not succeed.
“I just had the feeling that the certainty of the points was too good to pass up,” said Staley after the game. “Our kicker shot well. I just had the feeling that we could get a stop defensively. It would still be a game with just one ball. I just really wanted to make it a particular game with one ball.”
It could have worked as it was his trademark to finish fourth somewhere in the field. One that he and his young employees carefully created through analysis that resulted in the Chargers competing in fourth place 17 times (fourth in the NFL) and converting 11 of them, including seven of the top eight.
“We have established a good way of playing, a good way of acting on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “Have high expectations of performance that everyone understands.”
Center Corey Linsley is also new after spending six seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He shares Staley’s incessant optimism.
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“Just knowing that we are going to have these inconsistencies will show up,” he said. “Now we can have answers. The more we can do that, the less these inconsistencies will appear. … I have a feeling that there is so little possible for mistakes in this league.”
It’s the NFL and with a win over the 5-3-1 Steelers, who are just ahead of the Chargers in an extremely crowded AFC playoff race, the Chargers would likely be labeled a playoff ban again, as they are two games were better than the chiefs after week 5.
“We’re halfway there,” said Staley. “Half-time is now over and we gave each other the chance to compete. But we have to get to work, we have to improve and that’s in my head too. When I wake up, we have to improve and there I am I’ve spent a lot of my energy. “
There and in the café – you can even be reached easily in the complex.
“I swore to my wife it wasn’t too much,” said Staley. “I’ll switch to tea every now and then.”