Chargers HC Brandon Staley Says He Approaches Fourth-Down Calls With ‘More Mindset Than Math’

Chargers HC Brandon Staley shares what goes into making his fourth-down calls.

COSTA MESA – The Chargers were no stranger to going for it on fourth down last season. Brandon Staley’s aggressive nature led the team into converting a league-high 22 fourth-down attempts, which was good for a 65% conversion clip.

Staley’s willingness to forgo a punt or field goal attempts built up quite the reputation that became an image of the team’s identity in 2021.

With a new team at Staley’s disposal this year, he was asked following the Chargers first training camp practice if he would retain a similar approach for the season ahead. Staley answered simply by stating that each situation presents different obstacles and that he would be taking each fourth-down call by a case-by-case basis.

“Every year is a new season. I think that we have full confidence in our team and how we do things,” Staley said. “I think each of those things has a life of its own — that’s what I’ve said from the beginning. I know that kind of exploded last year. I do think it’s a positive thing for our team because we want to be aggressive. We want to have a team that’s fearless. It’s not scared to meet a moment. Every decision has a life of its own. You’re going to take it case-by-case. We have a brand new team, so to say that we’re going to do it exactly like we did last year, that won’t be the case.”

Surely it helps attempt a fourth down when you have Justin Herbert under center. But this year, the Chargers should be much more balanced with a defensive unit that is expected to be exponentially improved after adding Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson and others to the mix.

Meanwhile, there’s also the spreadsheet to consider before attempting a fourth down. What do the analytics suggest? While Staley crunches the numbers for specific situations, he insinuated Wednesday that it’s not the end-all be-all. Instead, he says it has more to do with having the proper feel and mindset.

“All of those decisions are about feel, all of them are — they’re about mindset, then there’s the math that’s also a part of it, but it’s more mindset than math, I can assure you that,” Staley said. “It’s the way that we want to play, as a team. I think that we’re going to try and get better at it as we go.”

In regards to mindset, Staley illustrated on Wednesday that the team fully believes in what he and the coaching staff are delivering to the squad during the early goings of training camp.

“They believe in our team. They believe in the Powder Blues. Your most important job, as a head coach, is getting your team to believe in what you do and how you do it,” Staley said. “I know that our team really believes in playing for the Powder Blues. I think our whole organization is why they feel that way. It’s not just coaches, it’s everybody in our organization that comes together for these guys. We expect that to reflect our performance.”

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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.

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