The back half of the Chargers’ defense had a breakout year in 2018, but how are they looking heading into 2019?
This offseason, I’m reviewing the Chargers’ position groups and giving a grade to each. Last week’s article was about the team’s running backs, which can be found here. This week is a doing a bit of a two-for-one with the team’s secondary, covering both the safeties and corners. Each group will receive its own individual grade, as well as an overall grade for the entire defensive backfield.
The biggest change to the safety position for the Chargers was the release of veteran starter Jahleel Addae. The now-Houston Texan played six seasons for the team and was a constant fixture at safety after he started out as an undrafted free agent. However, he became a fairly big liability in the secondary last season, and was released because of it. If Gus Bradley really wants to make this his “Legion of Boom 2.0”, the Chargers can’t have such a glaring hole at that position.
This led to the addition of free safety Nasir Adderley, the team’s highly coveted second-round pick. Many thought the Chargers had no shot of getting him after they drafted Jerry Tillery in the first round, but they somehow managed to get both, with Adderley falling quite a bit from where he was projected to go in most mock drafts. Adderley is an explosive athlete, and might be as dynamic as Derwin James in terms of being a ball-hawk and playing all over the field. The prospect of having them both on the field at the same time is scary.
But, it’s worth keeping in mind he is a rookie. He’s not really the sure thing Derwin James was when he fell into the Chargers’ lap. Getting to play with James and veteran Adrian Phillips is incredibly promising though, and it’s better than throwing Addae out there and expecting different results for another year.
Phillips is this team’s defensive leader, coming off what was easily the best season of his career. Many will talk about James or Hayward because they might be bigger names around the league as a whole, but Phillips is crucial to this team, and the team should be thankful they didn’t lose him in free agency