Brandon Staley: Sacrifices had to be made (Kyzir White) to rebuild Chargers’ defense

Chargers coach Brandon Staley, left, speaks during the NFL owner's meeting, Monday.
(Rebecca Blackwell / Associated Press)

His 144 tackles last season led the Chargers and were the third most in the AFC.

And today Kyzir White is a Philadelphia Eagle.

“First of all, so much respect for Kyzir,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said Monday. “He had an outstanding season for us. It’s probably my first time where the challenging side of the NFL comes in when you’re building a team and there’s decisions that you have to make that sometimes don’t line up with all the people you really value joining up with. I think that’s just one of those decisions.”

Speaking at the NFL owners meetings, Staley also called White “a favorite of mine” and said he was happy White was returning to the area where the linebacker grew up. White signed with Philadelphia last week.


The Chargers had the opportunity to retain White in free agency but instead allowed him to depart as Staley rebuilds a defense that didn’t meet his expectations — or specifications — in 2021.

It appears the NFL has momentum from team owners and coaches to approve a rule change for both teams to have possession of the ball in overtime.

March 26, 2022

Along with trading for three-time All-Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack, the Chargers signed defensive linemen Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson. Those three replace exiting free agents Uchenna Nwosu, Justin Jones and Linval Joseph in moves Staley believes will make the Chargers more balanced and complete up front.

The Chargers also signed Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson to boost a secondary that lacked playmaking, production and depth.

Of all the departures, White’s seemed to have the most emotional impact on the Chargers’ fan base, which watched him develop after joining the team as a fourth-round draft choice in 2018.

Staley’s defensive revamping has placed a focus on two premiere positions: edge and corner. League-wide, inside linebacker is not generally a position of emphasis, unless the player in question is elite.

New defensive lineman Austin Johnson said he played all along the Giants front last season and is looking forward to fitting everywhere on Chargers’ revamped defense.

March 23, 2022

With White gone, the Chargers’ linebacker group includes Drue Tranquill and Kenneth Murray Jr. — both of whom have started — along with Nick Niemann, Amen Ogbongbemiga and Cole Christiansen.


Saying “we really feel good about the guys that we have,” Staley suggested the Chargers still could add at linebacker, most likely in the draft next month. They have 10 total picks.

This defensive push comes after the Chargers spent last offseason bolstering their offensive line. The result was one of the NFL’s top-five most productive units and Pro Bowl recognition for second-year quarterback Justin Herbert.

 Chargers linebacker Kyzir White touches a lightning orb on his way to the field in November.
Chargers linebacker Kyzir White touches a lightning orb on his way to the field in November. White became a free agent and joined the Philadelphia Eagles.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Staley said this year’s roster retool has brought comfort as he prepares for his second season.

“I feel so much more confident about where we are,” he said. “When I look at our team last year compared to where we are this year, I just have a stronger sense of who we have on our team…

“Once you’ve been with a group now for a year, you’ve seen your own team, you’ve seen the division, you’ve seen the rest of the conference, I think you have a much stronger sense of where you need to go.”


Part of that confidence is familiarity, Staley particularly noting the additions of Mack and Joseph-Day, two players he has coached as an assistant. He worked with Mack in Chicago and with Joseph-Day with the Rams.

“You want to know that your guys are out there on that field,” Staley said. “It’s a really exciting feeling for me to know that Sebastian and Khalil are going to be out there.”

The Chargers introduced Khalil Mack on Tuesday and the linebacker and coach Brandon Staley recalled how the two did special things together in Chicago.

March 17, 2022

The biggest offensive addition for the Chargers has been tight end Gerald Everett, another player Staley is familiar with, the two having spent the 2020 season together with the Rams.

“He gives us a lot of run-after-catch possibilities,” Staley said. “He’s really good with the ball in his hands. He can get really vertical in the seam. He really completes the skill position group in a big way.”

Staley also said Everett has the ability to line up outside and play like a wide receiver, versatility being something the coach relishes.

Everett joins a position group that also features Donald Parham Jr. and Tre’ McKitty. Free agent Stephen Anderson, who spent the last three seasons with the Chargers, remains an option to return.


Chargers coach Brandon Staley said the acquisition of cornerback J.C. Jackson is a key to fixing the NFL’s worst third-down defense.

March 22, 2022

“I really value that position,” Staley said. “From a defensive standpoint, the teams that can play you in two tight ends and make it look like a bunch of things … that makes it really tough on you. I think it gives you an advantage structurally.”

One area the Chargers still are sorting out is running back, where their search for a reliable backup to Austin Ekeler continues. They drafted Larry Rountree III (sixth round) and Joshua Kelley (fourth) the last two years.

Staley said they could take another running back in a few weeks. Calling it “a young man’s position for the most part,” he explained that the Chargers did explore the running back open market.

“When you looked at free agency, it wasn’t that deep of a group,” Staley said. “We just felt like working through the draft would be a better option for us … We’ll see if it materializes.”