HomeFootball DirtDean Spanos, owner of the Chargers, was left with no option but...

Dean Spanos, owner of the Chargers, was left with no option but to make major changes following a devastating defeat against Las Vegas.

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COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Dean Spanos was left with only one choice as he watched his Los Angeles Chargers get pummeled 63-21 by the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night.

The Bolts’ owner needed to immediately clean house.

Friday’s firings of coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco could not wait until after the Chargers walked off the field on Jan. 8 against Kansas City or the morning of Jan. 9.

Not with three games remaining in another disappointing season and after two flat performances in a five-day span against division opponents, including last Sunday’s 24-10 loss to Denver.

Not after allowing the most points in a game in franchise history and the third-worst defeat by margin.

Not when the game was 42-0 at halftime and 63-7 29 seconds into the fourth quarter.

“We wasn’t ready to play and it showed out there today,” safety Derwin James said after Thursday night’s game. “It was a complete team loss.”

Linebacker Khalil Mack was even more direct, saying “this is probably one of the nastiest losses of my career.”

It was the second straight year a team has put up a horrendous performance on national television in December and got a coach fired. Nathaniel Hackett’s tenure in Denver ended after the Broncos 51-14 capitulation against the Las Angeles Rams on Christmas Day.

Even Staley acknowledged his time was short when he said “I don’t know” when asked if he would still be the coach on Friday.

While the focus will be on interim coach Giff Smith, it should also be on offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley.

Moore’s stock as a future head coach has taken a hit due to the offense’s inconsistency. He was brought in to marry the run and pass games, but the gulf between the two remains wide. The Chargers are ranked 17th in overall offense and have the fifth-worst run game.

The offense, though, is without quarterback Justin Herbert (broken finger) for the rest of the season. Wide receiver Keenan Allen was inactive against the Raiders due to a heel injury.

The defense has received plenty of criticism, with Staley repeatedly saying he wasn’t going to give up play-calling responsibilities. Will Ansley have a better game plan and make the proper in-game adjustments?

Besides coaches, the entire roster will be under scrutiny. A new general manager will be coming in with questions about every position — including whether Los Angeles has the right backup quarterback. The Chargers will need to build depth at several positions.

The immediate question will be whether the locker room rallies around Smith. The Raiders showed new life earlier this season when Antonio Pierce replaced the fired Josh McDaniels, but the same can’t be said for Carolina after Chris Tabor took over for Frank Reich.

Telesco, who had been the general manager since 2013, is well regarded throughout the league. He is a great evaluator of skill-position players, but his failures in building roster depth along with struggles in retaining non-first round picks after their rookie contracts expired proved his undoing.

Staley, who had a 24-25 record, will probably have go the coordinator or position coach route before he gets a second chance as a head coach.

The loss in Jacksonville last season in the first round of the AFC playoffs, where the Chargers squandered a 27-point lead in the first half, raised questions about Staley’s future. His defensive posture in interviews and showing strain in the face of a season full of adversity also increased the number of detractors.

WHAT’S WORKING

Converting third downs. After going a franchise-worst 0 for 12 against the Broncos, the Chargers converted on six of their 12 opportunities against the Raiders. It was the fourth time this season and third in the past six games the Bolts were 50% or better on third down.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Eliminating turnovers. Los Angeles had only eight giveaways in its first 10 games but has 11 in its last four. The five turnovers against the Raiders led to 35 points, including a pair of Las Vegas defensive touchdowns. It was the most turnovers the Chargers had committed since they had seven against Minnesota in 2019.

STOCK UP

WR Joshua Palmer. The third-year player missed six games due to a knee injury but returned with four receptions for 113 yards, including a career-long 79-yard touchdown. Palmer’s previous longest catch was 51 yards, also against the Raiders.

STOCK DOWN

RB Austin Ekeler. If anyone thought Ekeler might become more involved in the offense or there would be a greater emphasis on the running game with Easton Stick at quarterback, think again. Ekeler had four catches for 29 yards, but he was held to 9 yards rushing on five carries. It was the fourth time this season and second time in the past three games that Ekeler has averaged less than 2 yards per carry.

INJURIES

Allen (heel) and CB Deane Leonard (hamstring) were inactive. CB Essang Bassey left with a concussion and C/G Will Clapp departed with a knee injury on Thursday night.

KEY NUMBER

7 — Times in franchise history the Chargers have made an in-season coaching change. The last time was 1998, when Kevin Gilbride was fired six games into that season and replaced by June Jones.

NEXT STEPS

The Chargers get the weekend off before beginning preparations for next Saturday night’s home game against the Buffalo Bills.

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

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