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Brandon Staley confident in Chargers' 2023 rebound: 'I think what we'll discover is we have what it takes'

The Chargers will live in the shadow of their 27-point playoff collapse against the Jaguars until they can play another game -- perhaps until they can win one in the postseason.

Head coach Brandon Staley welcomes that notion, with the belief that enduring a loss of such magnitude can ultimately get a team where it wants to go.

"I think as an organization, we really know where we're headed," Staley told NFL Network's Steve Wyche on Sunday at the Annual League Meeting. "I think there's been great investment from the people within our organization. And we're not satisfied.

"I think what happened this year in the playoffs, there was a lot of people hurt by that performance because we feel like we got a really good team. But at the same time, you know that you've got to go through some games like that in order to get where you want to go. I think our locker room is as tight as it's ever been. I think there's a lot of confidence going into this offseason. Now I want to see this team come together and build itself up for another special year this year."

Asked if he was willing to revisit the loss in the season ahead rather than turning the page and shutting the book, Staley was emphatic in his approach.

"We definitely will," he said. "We definitely will revisit it. The way the NFL ends, we didn't get to spend enough time. The NFL ends, and it's over. Two days later, everybody's gone. Every year's different, but through two years, there's been enough people that have been with us that have invested a ton, where we do need to go revisit. We have to go look at exactly what happened. And I think what we'll discover is we have what it takes. And sometimes those toughest moments in sports, those are the ones that really drive you, and I'm expecting that to happen with our group."

Staley's confidence in his squad to learn from their failure rather than be haunted or defined by it is rooted in the caliber of Los Angeles' core.

Rather than feeling the need to take massive swings in free agency as they did in 2022 by signing cornerback J.C. Jackson or trading for linebacker Khalil Mack, the Chargers took a measured approach to keeping their own and adding affordable veteran pieces like Eric Kendricks.

"It's been a different offseason for sure," Staley said. "We have a lot of confidence in our team, and I think what we were able to do in the free agency period is be tactical in terms of the people that we were able to re-sign on our own team. Which is our biggest priority, getting Trey Pipkins back at right tackle, re-signing our punter (J.K. Scott), which was a big thing for us because he's such a weapon. And then you're able to get a key acquisition like an Eric Kendricks. But we feel good about our football team."

Kendricks figures to add an infusion of veteran leadership in the middle of L.A.'s defense, much like Mack did on the edge when he led the defense in sacks (8.0) his first season with the squad.

The offense, led by quarterback Justin Herbert and new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, remains largely intact and threatening, as well. The only question mark, albeit a massive one, is the status of running back Austin Ekeler, who received permission to seek a trade in order to find a deal he believes matches his value.

For what it's worth, Staley is hopeful for a positive resolution.

"We've been in full communication with his team," he told Wyche. "I think there's alignment and a way forward. We want him to be a Charger. I think that that's something that (general manager) Tom (Telesco) has said. It's something I've said. We want this guy to be a Charger. We're also respectful of his position, and we're gonna see where it goes. There's gonna be time now between now and our first game, and we'll see what happens. But I know the Chargers feel very strongly about Austin Ekeler. He's just been fantastic for us."

And so, a Chargers roster that is as good as it's been in a long time, coming off its first 10-plus win season since 2018 and second since 2009, has its sights set on an arc of redemption.

"That's what we're going to spend this next year trying to build towards," Staley said. "Being able to close that game out. I love the guys that I'm coaching. And I know that the group has what it takes to finish it and go a long way."

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