Many LA Chargers players have the potential to benefit from the hiring of Brandon Staley as head coach. The first thought that comes to mind is the defense. Staley coached the #1 total defense in 2020 after the unit was previously ranked 14th under Wade Phillips.
The names everyone talks about on the Rams’ defense are Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald, but what really impressed me are the players who had breakout seasons. John Johnson III, Micah Kiser, Troy Reeder, and Darious Williams played massive roles on the defensive side of the ball.
Williams ended up having a breakout season at corner opposite Ramsey. He was waived by the Ravens in 2018 as an undrafted free agent. Everyone saw the pick-six against the Seahawks in the wild card round, but he balled out against the Packers as well.
LA Chargers who will thrive under Brandon Staley: Derwin James
Everyone knows Derwin James is already a dominant force in the NFL when healthy. He can work in any system. Gus Bradley’s 4-3 defense is certainly good enough for James, but a Staley system has the potential to play to even more of his strengths.
Two of the keys of Staley’s defense are movement and aggressiveness. Rotations, movements, shifts, you name it. The Rams loved throwing tons of different looks at opposing offenses.
John Johnson III and Jalen Ramsey are the two players to look at when attempting to guess what James’ role will be on the defense. While Ramsey obviously plays cornerback, he never trailed one specific receiver.
James is a versatile weapon in that regard since he can cover different types of weapons if need be. We’ve seen him go head to head with a range of talents from Antonio Brown to Travis Kelce. That will be even more present in a Staley 3-4.
Johnson was used as the primary safety/linebacker in dime packages. Whether he was in the box or in coverage, he was a problem for defenses with his physicality. DK Metcalf certainly had trouble with him in the Wild Card round with the looks Staley used:
John Johnson III has been so damn good this year. This is art. pic.twitter.com/a1H12uJmNy
— Robert Mays (@robertmays) January 13, 2021
In my opinion, James is more versatile than any individual player on the 2020 Rams defense. He can truly play at all three levels and be a massive headache. Should he stay healthy, he has a chance to be one hell of a Staley chess piece. Lots of movement, physicality and aggression fit what James is all about.