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LA Chargers: How the “Jackboyz” secondary collapsed in 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - OCTOBER 12: Casey Hayward #26 of the Los Angeles Chargers reacts to an interception by Nasir Adderley #24 against the New Orleans Saints during their NFL game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 12, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - OCTOBER 12: Casey Hayward #26 of the Los Angeles Chargers reacts to an interception by Nasir Adderley #24 against the New Orleans Saints during their NFL game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 12, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) – LA Chargers
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) – LA Chargers

The LA Chargers’ vaunted secondary has fallen apart in the 2020 season. How did the “Jackboyz” unit collapse?

It’s been a turbulent year in the secondary for the LA Chargers. In 2018, the team was ninth in the league in opponent pass yards allowed per game. In 2019, the team was sixth in the same category. The wheels have fallen off in 2020 to this point though. The Chargers rank 23rd in the league in pass defense.

Could the Chargers’ secondary rebound this season? Sure, it’s possible. The team will get Chris Harris back from injury in fairness. But there are some larger scale problems that I believe have contributed to the demise of the secondary.

Letting Adrian Phillips walk in free agency

Adrian Phillips decided to take his talents to the New England Patriots in free agency. If New England overpaid him, I’d understand the Chargers letting him walk. There’s always a finite amount of cap space to use. However, Phillips only got a two year deal worth six million guaranteed with the Pats.

Phillips’ season with the Patriots so far hasn’t lived to some of his previous years with the Chargers, but his skillset would’ve provided the team with quality depth to be able to play strong or free safety. At this point, Rayshawn Jenkins and Nasir Adderley are liabilities in coverage.

Even accounting for Phillips’ 2020 regression, he still grades 15 points higher as a defender on PFF than Jenkins, and 20 points higher than Adderley. The Chargers’ decision to let AP walk cost them a chance at a salvageable secondary even with the injury to Derwin James. Speaking of James…

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