Brandon Staley’s Chargers defense is far from a finished product

COSTA MESA — Brandon Staley needed only one season as the defensive coordinator to turn the Rams into the top-ranked defense in the NFL.

But as the Chargers’ first-year head coach, Staley has had trouble getting results from his defense, especially on third down and against the run.

The Chargers are last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (145.3) and rank 31st in third-down conversion percentage (48.9%).

Staley has star defenders Derwin James and Joey Bosa on his side, but he needed to change a 4-3 scheme into a 3-4 defense with many unproven players with the Chargers, which could be why the results have been minimal 11 games into the season.

Staley had a different situation with the Rams, but the goals remained the same for the Chargers’ defensive play-caller.

“Where we need to get is where they don’t even want to run it,” Staley said Wednesday. “That they can’t run it even if they try. Then, now we get into second-and-pass, third-and-pass and now we can go play football. It’s been a fight, a work-in-progress. I think we’re improving. Hopefully, down the stretch here, we play our best.”

The Chargers don’t strike fear the way Staley wants them to eventually do and that’s why opposing offenses are running the ball often against them. The Cincinnati Bengals will likely give running back Joe Mixon a heavy workload Sunday when the Chargers visit Paul Brown Stadium.


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