Chargers WR Mike Williams supports Brandon Staley playing him Week 18: 'That's what we get paid to do'

The Chargers had a postseason spot wrapped up with little to compete for in the final week of the 2022 regular season when head coach Brandon Staley played his starters against the then-four-win Broncos.

Los Angeles lost anyway, and the worst that could've happened did when wide receiver Mike Williams' season ended on a hit in the second quarter that fractured his back. Williams, however, does not look back at suiting up with regret.

"For me, I understood why he wanted us to play," Williams said on Wednesday in his first media appearance since Week 18 of last season, per the team transcript. "We had a lot of momentum going in to that game. He wanted to keep the momentum going. Coach Staley is our leader, we believe in him. We will go with whatever he wants us to do.

"That's what we get paid to do, to play football."

Perhaps the decision, shortsighted as it might have been, would've caused less waves if Williams had returned for Super Wild Card Weekend, or L.A. had advanced to provide its WR extra recovery time.

The Chargers instead collapsed in historic fashion, blowing a 27-0 lead to the Jaguars in his absence.

"It was bad," Williams told reporters about witnessing his team's loss from the sidelines. "Watching it from the start, taking the big lead, you get excited. Then, we lost the game and it was like, you could've been there to help the team win. That was probably the biggest part for me."

It's not a stretch by any means to say Williams being on the field could've tilted the 31-30 loss the Chargers' way. Coming off a career year in nearly all categories in 2021, the 28-year-old was again a massive presence for Los Angeles in 2022 before seeing his playoff run cut short of the starting line.

He caught 63 passes for four scores and a team-leading 895 yards last season.

But even if Williams' injury and the team's stunning defeat turned up the heat on Staley's seat at season's end, the head coach is back for a third year in charge -- and the star wideout says he's fully rehabbed and recovered.

The Chargers are moving full speed ahead in their attempt to build off their first playoff berth since 2018, however bitter it might have ended.

Williams will return to a top-flight offense, catching passes from Justin Herbert alongside Keenan Allen and first-rounder Quentin Johnston, and all eyes will be on Staley if Los Angeles again clinches a spot in advance of the regular season's final play.

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