The loss of Derwin James
Derwin James‘ knee injury has certainly cost the Chargers in the secondary, but I also believe the pass rush has been affected by his absence. In 2018, James had 19 pass rushing pressures, four sacks, and 13 hurries. In 2020, those four sacks would finish at third or fourth on the team by the end of this season. Only Bosa, Tillery, and Nwosu will likely finish with more than four.
James was a true swiss army knife that could be put at any level of the defense and have success. While the Chargers didn’t do it quite as much during James’ return from injury in 2019, he still did have five pressures.
That playmaking ability came at useful times too. The sack on C.J. Beathard to close out the Niners in 2018 was obviously a huge moment, but there were other plays where he made other defenders on the line more effective as well:
Derwin. Isaac. SACK. pic.twitter.com/hy2IlWStVX
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) November 11, 2018
The Chargers tried to use Desmond King in a similar style of pass rush in both 2019 and 2020, but it never quite worked like it did with James. No one in the secondary can match his physicality and athleticism.
James wouldn’t have fixed the Chargers’ pass rush by himself in 2019 or 2020, but his presence could be a huge boost in the future if some of the other things mentioned improve. If Tillery becomes more consistent or Nwosu gets more playing time in conjunction with a James return? Watch out, opposing quarterbacks.