Derwin James’ knee injury
Derwin James’ is without a doubt one of the three or four best players on the LA Chargers when healthy. His versatile nature in the secondary is missing. The Chargers’ defensive drop-off without James is more intense than removing any other player from the defense.
If Joey Bosa or Melvin Ingram is hurt, you can at least go to Uchenna Nwosu for OK production. Without James, the Chargers have had to switch Jenkins from his natural spot at free safety. In addition to that, Nasir Adderley now has to play serious snap counts where Jenkins was supposed to originally play because of the injury. That’s a tough domino effect, especially considering Adderley didn’t play last season.
In James’ 2018 season, he was all over the field wreaking havoc. He can be lined up wherever and succeed because of his athleticism, talent, and eye for the game. Asking one or two average safeties to take on that type of responsibility to the same degree of success is a really, really, really tough ask. Looking at James’ 2018 snaps, he had 418 in the box, 205 at edge, 166 in the slot, 216 at deep safety, and 22 on the corners.
It’s one thing to replace your safety with a slightly worse safety. It’s a whole different story if you’re trying to replace your swiss army knife with a butter knife.