Chargers’ Brandon Staley – Grew ‘closer’ with Keenan Allen after tweet

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley on Monday expressed no concerns about his decision late in the game and finishing fourth the previous day, which almost proved costly in a 30-28 win over the Cleveland Browns .

Staley also said he has since met with team captain and wide receiver Keenan Allen, who is nursing a hamstring injury at home, as he wrote, “WTF are we doing” in a since-deleted tweet shortly after Staley’s decision.

Staley was clinging to a two-point lead with 1:14 at FirstEnergy Stadium and decided to try it on the fourth and 1 from the Bolts’ 46-yard line. Quarterback Justin Herbert’s pass to wide receiver Mike Williams was incomplete. With 1:10 left, the Browns took over and advanced the ball 10 yards before kicker Cade York missed a potential game-winning 54-yard field goal.

“We’ve become very close since I became head coach,” Staley said of Allen. “We met this morning. Anyone who’s been to a competition knows there’s a way you can feel when you’re not there. Keenan’s heart is with me, with us. I understand where he’s been at that moment because he’s not with his team or on fire that’s an amount of money he’s used to being out there… It’ll bring us closer. We’ve already gotten closer this morning.

Allen, a 10th-year pro and the Bolts’ receptionist since 2017, has been sidelined since Week 2 and is staying “day-to-day” in his return from a hamstring injury he sustained in the season opener, according to Staley.

The Chargers (3-2) play the Denver Broncos (2-3) at SoFi Stadium Monday night.

Despite Allen’s and pundits’ scrutiny, ESPN’s win probability model was consistent with Staley’s decision to try on the fourth Sunday. The win rate was 84.1%; the win percentage to punt was 78.9%.

“There will be a decision that a majority will disagree with,” Staley said. “You just have to be confident in what you believe in and also be transparent about your process, not feel defensive or insecure.”

The Chargers are 5 of 11 in fourth down conversions this season (45.5%, ranked 19th in the NFL).

Last season, in Staley’s rookie tenure as head coach, the Bolts converted 22 league-high attempts in 34 attempts to finish fourth (64.7%, rank tied fourth).

“It’s no surprise,” running back Austin Ekeler, who amassed 199 all-purpose yards on Sunday, said of Staley’s decision to try. “I mean, it’s still Brandon Staley that we’re talking about here and we’ve seen everything we’ve done over the last year and that’s how it showed in that moment where he believed in us. He said we’ve got some pretty good success, and he gave us an opportunity to go for 1 yard and we came up short.

The Chargers rushed for a season-high 465 yards against the Browns, including a season-high 10 catches for 134 yards for Williams, who was aiming for fourth place.

“We wanted to end this game with our offense on the field,” Staley said. “They played a great game. We liked our matchup outside and I think that was the best decision for us at that point.”

On Monday, defenseman Sebastian Joseph-Day, who was part of a significant offseason redesign of the Bolts’ defense that also included edge rusher Khalil Mack and cornerback JC Jackson, voiced no reservations about Staley’s decision to give the offense one last chance instead to punt and rely on defense to win the game.

“At the end of the day, Coach Staley makes the decisions because he’s the coach and he knows it,” said Joseph-Day. “I will never question this man. I will never question his decisions because he has a reason. That’s why he’s the head coach. … I will still ride with him.”

The Browns ran five games before attempting a 54-yard field goal that won the game. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett was 1 of 4 for 10 yards and running back Kareem Hunt was stopped by Derwin James Jr. in the series without a win.

“The way our offense played that game gave me complete confidence in the matchup, and the way our defense defended in the passing game, their kicker, all that good stuff. I mean, that helped,” Staley said. “But we trusted that our offense was going to make a play and, um, that was the decision I made and I felt like it was the right one.”

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34771126/grew-closer-keenan-allen-critical-tweet Chargers’ Brandon Staley – Grew ‘closer’ with Keenan Allen after tweet

Emma Bowman

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