Why Brandon Staley’s Timeout Did Not Cost the Chargers a Spot in the NFL Playoffs

All week we heard about the bizarre scenario in which a tie between the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders would send both teams to the NFL Playoffs.

Never in a million years did anybody think that was a possibility, but somehow it almost unfolded in the regular season’s final game. That is until the Raiders kicked a field goal as time expired in overtime to head to the playoffs and send Brandon Staley’s team home.

After the game, the question suddenly focused on the confusing timeout from Staley. Just when it looked like the Raiders were milking the clock and heading for a tie, the Chargers’ rookie head coach called a timeout, and the rest, as we know it, is history.

However, even though many people blame the Staley timeout for the Chargers and Raiders not ending in a tie, the whistle did not make a difference.

Brandon Staley’s timeout was not the difference-maker in this game

After the madness ensued, Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia acknowledged that his team was thinking about ending it in a tie. But then Josh Jacobs broke free again and again, and suddenly, things were different.

It was 3rd-and-4, Raiders ball, and Staley called a timeout with the clock under 40 seconds. This sequence will be debated for a long time, and rightfully so.

However, let’s think about this. Was it the timeout? Or was it the awful run defense that allowed Jacobs to break free over and over?

That is why the Chargers aren’t playing in the tournament, not the timeout from Staley.

Chargers DL Breiden Fehoko defends Staley’s timeout call after the game

NFL analyst Emmanuel Acho was one of many to rip Staley for the call, insisting that timeout cost them a trip to the playoffs.

Interestingly enough, Chargers defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko backed up his head coach with a perfect explanation after the game.

It included a lot of football terms, but Fehoko’s explanation lines up with Staley’s. The Chargers head coach insisted he wanted the right personnel in the game, hence the timeout being called at that moment.

Derek Carr was in shotgun, and Jacobs dominated the Chargers defense all game long, especially on that final drive.

If the Raiders were going to run down the clock, why line up in shotgun? Why not kneel before the timeout was called?

Nonetheless, one simple stop by the Chargers in this spot would have forced the field goal to be a 50-plus-yarder. Instead, Jacobs ran for a first, and Daniel Carlson walked out to a much easier kick to win the game.

The Chargers run defense played poorly again, giving up 132 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries to Jacobs while allowing Jalen Richard and Marcus Mariota to rush for 47 yards on six combined carries.

That won’t get it done, and this is nothing new for the Chargers. The run defense was questionable all season long, and it let the team down when it mattered most.

Who would want this rivalry game to end in a tie?

Chargers HC Brandon Staley called a questionable timeout against the Raiders.
Head coach Brandon Staley of the Los Angeles Chargers| Steve Marcus/Getty Images

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The Chargers-Raiders rivalry never sleeps. Even though the Raiders moved from Oakland to Sin City and the Chargers from San Diego to LA, it remains fiery.

Now, do we think the Raiders wanted to hand the Chargers a bone and end in a tie so both teams could get in the playoffs?

Las Vegas ended the season on a four-game winning streak and now has a ton of momentum heading into the postseason. Would a tie have provided much more motivation than a huge four-game streak?

More than that, the Chargers shot themselves in the foot. LA went down to 29-14 in the fourth quarter and had to rely on the arm of Justin Herbert to get back in on a wild finish. This was easily one of the best games in recent NFL history, and the controversy, the questionable calls, and the whistle by Staley will be discussed for years to come.

As the dust settles, the Staley conversation will cool down. While the timeout will be a huge talking point for the next few months, one simple stop by the defense — in multiple instances — would’ve changed the course of the game.

Nonetheless, the future is bright for LA, and the Raiders’ tumultuous season resulted in a trip to the NFL Playoffs.

Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference