LA Chargers News

Los Angeles Chargers Options for Safety Tandems

By Brian Garcia
CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Jahleel Addae #37 of the Los Angeles Chargers waves his hands during the second half of a game against the Miami Dolphins at StubHub Center on September 17, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Jahleel Addae #37 of the Los Angeles Chargers waves his hands during the second half of a game against the Miami Dolphins at StubHub Center on September 17, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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CARSON, CA – DECEMBER 03: Adrian PhCARSON, CA – DECEMBER 03: Adrian Phillips #31 of the Los Angeles Chargers reacts after a broken up pass play during the first quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at StubHub Center on December 3, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)illips #31 of the Los Angeles Chargers reacts after a broken up pass play during the first quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at StubHub Center on December 3, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA – DECEMBER 03: Adrian PhCARSON, CA – DECEMBER 03: Adrian Phillips #31 of the Los Angeles Chargers reacts after a broken up pass play during the first quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at StubHub Center on December 3, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)illips #31 of the Los Angeles Chargers reacts after a broken up pass play during the first quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at StubHub Center on December 3, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

One of the biggest offseason questions with the Los Angeles Chargers has been, who is going to be the starting safety tandem?

We drafted Derwin James with the first-round pick and he’d be best suited to be in that Kam Chancellor strong safety role, especially in Gus Bradley’s defense. However, we signed Jahleel Addae to an extension last offseason which makes it difficult to let all that money just sit on the bench. Not to mention he really broke out last season as the team’s starting strong safety.

Adrian Phillips’ main role with this team was as the nickel linebacker/safety role. Rayshawn Jenkins has always been a down in the box type of safety, even though the coaches were trying to transition him from strong to free this training camp.

With all of our safeties predominantly being best suited for an “in the box” safety role, it leads to so many more questions. Such as, who is going to be the starting free safety? Will Derwin take Addae’s role? Does the team really feel comfortable with Jenkins as the single high safety? Are the Chargers going to add a true free safety as a free agent?

The fans may be in the dark until Week one rolls around, but until then these are a few ideas and thoughts on the safety packages the Chargers might throw in during the season.

CARSON, CA – AUGUST 25: Derwin James #33 of the Los Angeles Chargers reaches for Taysom Hill #7 of the New Orleans Saints after he fakes a punt and runs for a first down in the first quarter of the pre-season game at StubHub Center on August 25, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA – AUGUST 25: Derwin James #33 of the Los Angeles Chargers reaches for Taysom Hill #7 of the New Orleans Saints after he fakes a punt and runs for a first down in the first quarter of the pre-season game at StubHub Center on August 25, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Derwin James and Jahleel Addae (Starting Safety Package)

The most likely pick for starters are James and Addae if you put experience, value and potential into play.

This preseason they tried to put Addae as a free safety while James was down in the box, but I don’t think it’s smart to put the big hit or big miss type of talent Addae is as our last line of defense, which was shown in the first quarter of the Seahawks game.

James’ uber-athleticism gives him the ability to play the single high safety position but it does not mean that’s what he’s best suited for. As shown in the Saints game, when James and Addae were on the same field, it was shown as a two deep safety look but as soon as the ball was snapped, Addae came down hill to the box and James backpedaled to be the center fielder of the defense.

James watched the eyes of the quarterback (Drew Brees) and broke off as soon as the ball was released and made the interception, showing he has the instincts, range and athleticism to show he can be a free safety, as a placeholder. But as a place holder, James is the best placeholder you could ever ask for.

The coaches have been raving this offseason that both James and Addae are interchangeable at both safety positions which is nice to tell the media, but I wouldn’t trust Addae for a full game at the single high position. So with the most likely candidate to be the starting duo out the gate, I’d expect finding Addae close to the line of scrimmage and James being the center fielder for this defense.

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