LA Chargers: Derwin James primed to be Comeback Player of the Year

LA Chargers Derwin James (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
LA Chargers Derwin James (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images) /

LA Chargers starting safety Derwin James has unfortunately not been blessed with good health in recent years. After being selected as a first-team All-Pro in his rookie season in 2018, James only played in 5 games the following season.

A preseason foot injury left the former Florida State Seminole in a cumbersome walking boot for most of his sophomore campaign in 2019. While he did play the final month of the season, it was evident that he was not as effective as the season prior.

Yet again in 2020, the star safety suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee, which ended his season before it even began.  However, it is now 2021, and the Chargers’ safety is back on the field for the team’s voluntary OTA’s in Costa Mesa, California.

How is the LA Chargers star safety feeling after not playing since 2019?

A recent report from LA Chargers beat reporter for The Athletic, Daniel Popper, stated that Derwin James is back on the field after being medically cleared to participate in team activities fully. For LA Charger fans, that in and of itself is something to be both excited and thankful for this offseason.

When asked about how his first practice back with the team, James made the following statements:

“It felt amazing today. I feel a lot stronger and more stable. I’m ready.”

For both Derwin and the Chargers, many things have changed in the organization since 2018. Anthony Lynn is no longer the head coach, and both defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Gus Bradley and Ron Milus are with the Las Vegas Raiders, respectively.

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The former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator is now running the show for the better team in LA in 2021. He will be conducting the defense much differently from the more predominant Cover 3 scheme Derwin James thrived in 2018.

Derwin James can still thrive despite the scheme change to a 3-4 base defense.

While many are familiar with how Derwin James was utilized everywhere on the defense in 2018 for the LA Chargers.

That isn’t per se subject to change despite a new defensive scheme. While the predominant 3-4 defensive alignment will be different, James’ role will be much more unpredictable for the opposition.

With him and Nassir Adderley setting up more as split safeties than Gus Bradley’s single-high concepts, it will ultimately keep the opposition guessing of who is doing what. Both Charger starting safeties are versatile and can be both assets in the run and pass game.

And for what it’s worth, oddsmakers give Derwin James +1500 (15/1) odds to win the Comeback Player of the Year.

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This facet will allow Derwin to disguise pressure more often outside the box and set him up to be an elite defender once more in 2021. Expect a healthy Derwin James to be a dominant force as he was in his rookie season, if not more.