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Would Derwin James have the Chargers at 5-0?

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is hit after a catch by Derwin James #33 of the Los Angeles Chargers in the first half during the game at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is hit after a catch by Derwin James #33 of the Los Angeles Chargers in the first half during the game at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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The Chargers have dropped three games in disappointing fashion. Would All-Pro Derwin James have changed the outcome of each loss?

The Chargers have become infamous this season for the number of high-profile players out with an injury. Though none of the true impact players (sorry Sean Culkin) outside of Dontrelle Inman are expected to miss the season, their absence has helped put the Chargers at 2-3 to start the year. Would one of their key defensive pieces, Derwin James, have made the difference between this record and being 5-0?

James’ impact, in regards to football snaps, is solely on defense; so, unfortunately, No. 33 can’t fix turnovers on offense, missed kicks, or touchdown-removing penalties. Those are on the offense and special teams.

However, it’s possible his presence alone on defense would have done enough to flip each win in the Chargers’ favor. Does James let Kerryon Johnson score the Lions’ only touchdown of the game on a 36-yard screen? How about this: If Roderic Teamer isn’t starting Week 3 against the Texans, is Deshaun Watson able to complete eight passes to two tight ends for 122 yards and three touchdowns? Does Philip Lindsay run for 32 yards to seal the game yesterday?

The Chargers have not lost a game by more than a touchdown, and have only lost all three games by a combined 17 points.

One criticism of the defense thus far has been somewhat of an emotional inconsistency. In one half, they’re playing vanilla and soft, but the next half they are attacking the quarterback and displaying a fire they lacked previously.

James is the emotional catalyst this Chargers team needs, and his influence spreads over all three phases of the game.

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Remember the rookie safety, in his first preseason game, on the road, pointing at Lamar Jackson and taunting him, clapping across the line of scrimmage and daring them to run at him? That attitude is sorely missed through five games. I truly believe, through both his stellar play and the inspiration he provides, that James would have helped the Chargers win at least two more games than they have.

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