Brandon Staley was fairly likely to make it to the end of the season as Los Angeles Chargers' head coach, but Thursday night's no-show 63-21 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders brought the move to fire him (and general manager Tom Telesco) on Friday morning.
Now the Chargers will embark on a search for new front-facing organizational leadership, presumably starting with a general manager who will hire the new head coach.
Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has been expected to be at or near the top of the list of candidates the Chargers will target to replace Staley, and there are reasons (or at least one big reason) the job would appeal to Johnson.
Johnson was a hot head coaching candidate after his first season as the offensive coordinator in Detroit. Despite some hiccups and questions about his play-calling, he will be again after this season is over for the Lions.
Would Ben Johnson take the Chargers' head coaching job over any other?
When Johnson went through interviews after last season, the job openings were not numerous or particularly appealing if we're being honest. So his decision to stay on as Lions' offensive coordinator for at least one more year ultimately made sense.
There should be more opening this time around, and most should have some interest in Johnson.
The Chargers have a franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert, who is 25 years old (26 in March) and under contract through 2029. That's a good place to start, and the big reason why Johnson would want the job replacing Staley.
As it sits right now, the Chargers are technically more than $42 million over the 2024 salary cap. Even if the cap rises for next year, they still will have some work to do. But cutting Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa, Mike Williams, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Eric Kendricks, aging players (29 or older) who may not have a place in a rebuild/reset, would put them nearly $30 million into the positive. Not that they'll cut all those players, but it's an example of a relatively easy path to remake the roster quickly.
After making Staley their third straight first-time head coach, the Chargers may want an experienced coach to replace him. But until further notice Johnson is a top candidate for the job, and quite possible the No. 1 candidate.