Los Angeles Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh had his long-awaited introductory press conference Thursday at the YouTube Theater. In addition to thanking the Spanos' for the opportunity, Harbaugh stated that his goal is to win "multiple championships" in Los Angeles and that teamwork and effort are key components to achieve it.
He also spoke about the importance of physical training, and confirmed Ben Herbert as the new Chargers head strength and conditioning coach. In a funny, Harbaugh-speaking-style, he also talked about his first interactions with key players, such as Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen and Derwin James.
In fact, Harbaugh commented on safety Derwin James, who made him "fired up" after meeting him for the first time. You can see Harbaugh's reaction in the following tweet from Sporting Tribune's Fernando Ramirez:
Derwin's first impression is fascinating, since former head coach Brandon Staley felt something similar. In his first press conference as the Chargers head coach in 2021, Staley talked about James in that "it's hard to stand out in this league... because everybody is so amazing... but this guy stands out." Staley not only praised James' physique but also his personality which makes him stand out among NFL players. The former coach's admiration for Derwin was so great that he called him the "heartbeat" of the defense, and even compared him to NBA superstar LeBron James for his adaptability.
In fact, Derwin James was ranked as the best safety in the NFL by Pro Football Focus before last season. He was the leader of the last regime's defense because of his leadership, versatility and physical prowess, and it seems he will have this same role in 2024.
Derwin James as the leader of the new Chargers Defense
Not only has Jim Harbaugh praised James' personality, but also his talent. When speaking to CBS's Bill Cowher before the Chiefs-Ravens AFC Championship game, he highlighted Herbert, Allen and James, and called them "pros", meaning they are dedicated and outstanding players.
As forming his coaching staff is his main goal right now, Harbaugh stressed in his introductory press conference that he must bring personnel who are "worthy" of both Justin Herbert and Derwin James. These comments not only reject any Derwin James trade or cut rumors, but put James as the stone of a rebuilding Chargers defense.
Despite a 2023 season with ups and downs, Derwin's athleticism, versatility and physical strength make him one of the best players in the NFL. He also possesses a unique personality and leadership that should take the Chargers' defense to the next level. Just as Herbert is Jim Harbaugh's fundamental piece on offense, Derwin James is clearly the "quarterback" of a Chargers defense that is ready to rebound in 2024.