Chargers say Brandon Staley’s practices have come into winning fruition on Sundays

 Chargers head coach Brandon Staley congratulates team members as they defeat the Las Vegas Raiders 28-14 at SoFi Stadium.
Chargers head coach Brandon Staley congratulates team members as they defeat the Las Vegas Raiders 28-14 at SoFi Stadium. Players say Staley’s practices during the week have come to fruition on Sundays.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

They came back in the fourth quarter in Week 1, scored twice in the final three minutes in Week 3 and pitched a shutout over the last 16 minutes in Week 4.

For the first time since their 2018 playoff season, the Chargers so far this season are making the late plays that so often decide NFL games.

“I think it means more than winning by 20, 30 points,” edge rusher Joey Bosa said after a 28-14 victory Monday over Las Vegas. “We just showed resilience. I think everybody’s going to start believing it. We do now.”

Three seasons ago, the Chargers went 6-1 in one-score games en route to advancing to the postseason, where they beat Baltimore by six points before losing to New England.


Two sub-.500 finishes since led to sweeping coaching changes, a roster retool and now a rediscovered confidence that — even while playing in a covered stadium — the sky isn’t about to crumble about them.

“In years past, you come in at half with a lead, I’m like, ‘Oh, god, what are we going to do this time to screw this up?’ ” Bosa said. “I’m sorry, but it’s kind of how my mind worked because it just happened so many times. Nobody’s fault; all our faults.

A different wagering approach might be necessary when the Chargers and Cleveland Browns meet in what is expected to be a close, low-scoring contest.

Oct. 8, 2021

“I think we’re just coming together as a team, and we all believe in each other, believe in the coaching. When coach Staley goes up there and talks to us, everybody’s listening.”

Brandon Staley was hired in January, bringing along a preparation-based, detail-driven infrastructure to accentuate the celebrated Xs and O’s that earned him the job interview in the first place.

Several Chargers have talked about Staley’s ability to foster belief by explaining what to expect on the field — in practice or a game — and then having that explanation come to life just as he forecast.


“He gains confidence in us when we’re able to complete his plan and we gain trust in him that his plan works,” running back Austin Ekeler said. “So it’s really like an ecosystem that’s working right now.”

The Chargers offense is four for four on fourth down. The team has converted both its two-point tries. The last two victories were secured after key Staley decisions — including a coach’s challenge — worked out perfectly.

The ability to make quick decisions correctly while under pressure has proven to be a great trait for Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.

Oct. 7, 2021

At 3-1, this is a team with plenty of feel-good and, Ekeler suggested, a growing sense that something beyond momentum might be building. It’s early — Staley never was a head coach before, at any level — but it’s encouraging.

Staley explained that by challenging his players more during the week, his staff can expect more on Sundays. He tries to ensure success by designing practices that will force his players to fail.

“We’ve tried to create that competitive environment where guys can learn from their mistakes,” Staley said. “Really kind of be put in the fire from a preparation standpoint, so that, when something tough happens, it’s not the first time it’s happened during the week.

“If you don’t do that, if you sort of script for success or try to keep it easier for them. … Easier for them doesn’t make it right for them. I feel like you’re able to respond more if you put your guys through more.”

The Times’ Sam Farmer analyzes each matchup and predicts the winners of Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season.

Oct. 7, 2021

The results, to this point, have been there. Through four games, the Chargers have allowed only one fourth-quarter touchdown. They’ve outscored the opposition 33-13 over the final 15 minutes. Their lone loss came on the game’s final play, yes, but it took a 56-yard field goal to make it happen.


Defensive back Chris Harris Jr. (shoulder) is expected to play Sunday barring any setbacks. He’s missed the past three games. Running back Justin Jackson (groin) is doubtful. ... The Chargers plan to activate cornerback Ryan Smith (core muscle) from the injured reserve list this weekend. He has yet to make his Chargers debut.