The Los Angeles Chargers finally moved on from head coach Brandon Staley on Friday, just hours after his team gave up 63 points to the Las Vegas Raiders and lost by 42. Staley was 24-24 in his three seasons as an NFL head coach, failing to win a playoff game with Justin Herbert as his quarterback. 

Despite going to the Chargers with a defensive background, Staley's L.A. defenses weren't impressive. The defense never ranked higher than 20th in yards allowed per game and 27th in points allowed per game in his three years. The Chargers ranked 31st in points per game allowed (24.8) and 29th in yards allowed per game (359.6) in Staley's three seasons.

The Chargers will need a long-term fix with Staley and general manager Tom Telesco fired. Los Angeles is projected to be $42,186,936 over the salary cap heading into the offseason (per Over The Cap), having a roster full of overpaid players and massive holes that need to be addressed in the draft. Basically, the Chargers won't be spending this offseason to fix this roster for 2024 and beyond. 

Who are ideal candidates for the Chargers job given the situation? Los Angeles still has Herbert at quarterback, two great wide receivers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, and a franchise left tackle in Rashawn Slater. There are pieces to build around on this team. 

Here are the top candidates based on the Chargers' situation.

7. Matt Campbell

  • Age: 43
  • Current role: Iowa State HC

Campbell changed the culture at Iowa State in his eight years with the Cyclones, running an NFL-style program and building it from the ground up. He's coached Brock Purdy and Breece Hall, paving the way for those two to have NFL success. 

Campbell has been courted by NFL teams, but hasn't made the jump. He's never coached in the NFL, but is credited for using a spread passing game with a balanced running game. The main factor that makes Campbell desirable is the culture he's built at Toledo and Iowa State, which could bode well for an NFL program in need of a change of philosophy.

Unlikely Campbell makes the leap, but the Chargers could be enticing considering they appear set for a rebuild. 

6. Lincoln Riley

  • Age: 40
  • Current role: USC HC

Could the Chargers get Riley to finally join the professional ranks? He won't have to move far down the road to coach the Chargers, who already have a franchise quarterback in Herbert (whom Riley would certainly covet if he were to jump to the NFL ranks). Riley has developed plenty of quarterbacks at Oklahoma and USC, including Baker MayfieldKyler MurrayJalen Hurts and Caleb Williams.

The "Air Raid" offense would be intriguing for any franchise, and it fits with how the NFL has developed into a passing league. If any quarterback can succeed under it, it would be Herbert. If the Chargers want to think outside the box, it wouldn't hurt to call Riley. 

5. Mike Macdonald

  • Age: 36
  • Current role: Ravens DC

Staley's three years as Chargers head coach may have the franchise shy away from a head coach with a defensive background, but Macdonald is the top defensive coordinator available. Macdonald was with the Ravens under Wink Martindale from 2014 through 2020 before serving as Michigan's defensive coordinator in 2021. 

Since Macdonald returned to Baltimore in 2022, the Ravens are third in the league in points allowed per game (17.8) and yards per game (307.0). Baltimore leads the NFL in points per possession allowed (1.35) and yards per possession allowed (24.6). 

The Ravens have an elite defense under Macdonald, one of the bright defensive minds in the league. Staley was once considered that as well before becoming a head coach, but being an assistant coach under John Harbaugh (and Jim Harbaugh) has merit. 

4. Bobby Slowik

  • Age: 36
  • Current role: Texans OC

Slowik has only been an offensive coordinator for a year, but the Texans play-caller has done wonders with C.J. Stroud this season. Stroud is on pace to break Andrew Luck's rookie record (4,374) with 4,748 pass yards this season and can become the first rookie to lead the NFL in passing yards since Davey O'Brien in 1939. Stroud became the first rookie since at least 1950 to lead the NFL in pass yards at end of any week following Week 13 and has the second-most 25-yard completions (38) by any quarterback through 13 career games in the past 30 seasons (Patrick Mahomes has the most with 44). 

The Texans offense elevated from 31st and 32nd in points (1.43) and yards per possession (24.3) to 11th in both categories (1.94, 31.4). Slowik is already a play-caller, so settling into a head coach role would be a smoother transition. It also helps he spent all of his head coaching career with Kyle Shanahan before joining the Texans. 

Perhaps Slowik isn't ready to become a head coach yet (like Johnson in 2022), but it would be wise for the Chargers to call. 

3. Ben Johnson

  • Age: 37
  • Current role: Lions OC

The top offensive name being floated out there amongst the head coach candidates, Johnson has a background as the wide receivers coach with the Miami Dolphins, and he elevated his stock as the offensive coordinator in Detroit. The Lions are sixth in points per possession (2.31) and fourth in yards per possession (35.2) under Johnson and have a top-five rushing offense in rushing yards per game (137.5) and yards per carry (4.7). The Lions were fourth in points per possession (2.48) and third in yards per possession (36.6) last season -- Johnson's first year as offensive coordinator. 

Johnson working with Herbert and the offense could be the next step toward revitalizing the Chargers franchise with fresh ideas, and he'd be given time to fix the roster in his image. This may be a job he won't pass up. 

2. Eric Bieniemy

Perhaps familiarity with the AFC West is enticing enough for Bieniemy to see if he can attempt to beat Andy Reid. Bieniemy still has not gotten a head coaching job yet despite many excellent years as the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator. He's now calling plays with the Commanders. 

The Chiefs scored the most points per game in the NFL (30.1) when Bieniemy was the offensive coordinator from 2018-22, along with the most yards per game (406.2). Kansas City also had the best record in the NFL during Bieniemy's run, going 64-18 with five conference championship game appearances and two Super Bowl titles in the five years he was the offensive coordinator. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes also had the most passing yards, passing touchdowns, and the highest passer rating in that span -- all with Bieniemy as the offensive coordinator.

The development of Mahomes and Sam Howell should be enough to entice the Chargers to hire Bieniemy and take Herbert to the next level. Coming from the Andy Reid coaching tree doesn't hurt either. 

1. Bill Belichick

If Belichick and the Patriots do decide to part ways, would the Chargers be a stable enough franchise for a head coach who won six Super Bowls in New England? Belichick also has never coached west of Cleveland since joining Bill Parcells' staff in 1979, so that could play a factor. 

If the Chargers are enticing to Belichick, it'll be because of Herbert -- the best quarterback Belichick has coached since Tom Brady left New England in 2019. Belichick is also just 83-100 in his head coaching career without Brady as starter (includes playoffs), winning only one playoff game without him. Belichick is still a great defensive coach, as the Patriots are third in points per game allowed and fourth in yards per game allowed over the last three years.

The Chargers need some stability across the board, which is a reason Belichick can get the franchise back on the right track. The success of the Chargers may depend on stability rather than results right away, which could present an intriguing challenge for Belichick.