If you follow the game much at all beyond the Pittsburgh Steelers, you may have come across a video or two of Brandon Staley, the Los Angeles Chargers’ first-year head coach, whose eloquent, thoughtful, and detailed answers have been likened to Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams—as well as that of Mike Tomlin of the Steelers.
It turns out, that’s no coincidence, because he gave one of those long, detailed, thoughtful answers on Wednesday when he was asked about Tomlin, who is bringing his Steelers to the west coast to face his Chargers, with both teams looking to right the ship after disappointing results. I really don’t know how to do this without simply transcribing the very lengthy response in full, so…that’s what I’m going to do:
Number one, there’s not another guy that I have more respect for in the league. His consistency in performance—he’s been an NFL coach for 14 years and he’s never had a losing season, he’s made two Super Bowls and won one of them. There’s been nine playoff appearances, seven division titles in one of the premier divisions in football. You take a look at them and Baltimore, you’ve got two of the premier franchises in the NFL, and he’s going nose to nose with them twice or three times a year. He was the youngest head coach at the time to win a Super Bowl.
When I went into my interviews last year, because I’ve watched this guy for a long time, what stands out to me is his humility. He’s an outstanding communicator. I was with Mike Munchak in Denver who was with Mike for several years. Mike is a Hall of Fame player and coach. Just the level of respect that he had for Mike, this guy is as good as it gets in all of sports, and it’s that humility, that communication, that competitiveness.
When I went into my interviews last year, a lot of people were asking me, like, who do you pattern your game after, and Mike Tomlin was at the top of my list, because he was an offensive player, played wideout at William & Mary. He had only been a coordinator for one year before he became a head coach. I felt like I saw a lot of myself in him, and I was hoping to pattern a lot of my game after him.
Just watching him with a young quarterback—he’s got one of the top quarterbacks in the game as a young head coach, and that was certainly something that I was hoping to do, and I just think that this guy, his consistency and his leadership skills and his ability to adapt over time.
One thing that always stood out to me is that he was a defensive coordinator that came up under a certain system, and when he became a head coach, he was with a legendary, Hall of Fame coach, Dick LeBeau, and they kept that system in place, because it was at that time one of the top defensive systems in all of football, and I thought that said so much about his humility, is that he would learn that defense.
He was a secondary guy. He came up against Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin. It’s a very different style of play than Dick LeBeau, and for him to have that type of humility and that type of awareness as a coach to know that you’re gonna fit your team to the way it is and not someplace else. I think there’s so many lessons to learn from him, and I just can’t speak highly enough from him, because he’s one of the great competitors of the game.
Staley began his coaching career at the age of 24 when he was a graduate assistant at Northern Illinois in 2006. He would spend the next decade in college football before earning the job of outside linebackers coach with the Chicago Bears in 2017. He served the same role with the Denver Broncos in 2019, where he worked with Munchak, as he mentioned, and got an earful of first-hand stories of working with Tomlin.
And like his influence, Staley also served just one season as a coordinator, acting as defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams last season before earning the head coaching job with the Chargers this season. He currently has his team at 5-4 and is looking to stay above .500, with Tomlin standing in his way.