The LA Chargers clinched a spot in the playoffs with a dominant win over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football. Los Angeles put together perhaps the quickest turnaround in recent NFL history as the team went from on the outside looking in three weeks ago to easily clinching with two weeks to spare.
Lost in the excitement of clinching a playoff spot was an ejection earlier in the game for star safety Derwin James. James was flagged and ejected for unnecessary roughness for a big hit on Ashton Dulin. Regardless of how Chargers fans feel about the hit, and the rules as a whole, the rules are the rules and by definition, an ejection was the right call.
With how the NFL is cracking down on hits like this, a suspension definitely was in play for James if the league felt it was warranted. However, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported on Tuesday morning that James will not be suspended but a fine is likely coming his way.
Chargers news: Derwin James still probably shouldn't play against the Rams in Week 17.
While James avoided an unpaid suspension from the league, Brandon Staley and the Chargers should probably step in and hold the star safety out of the Week 17 contest against the LA Rams. That is always easier said than done with star players but the Bolts have to think about the bigger picture.
James has been placed in concussion protocol. While that does not guarantee that he has a concussion, it should prompt the team to be cautious with his health as it pertains to Week 17.
Los Angeles has already clinched a spot in the playoffs and while they have a fifth seed to play for in the last two weeks, there is no reason to rush James back into action on a short week. Instead, let him rest another week and bring him back for a half or so in Week 18 to get his feet wet and ready for the AFC Wild Card Round.
This also gives the team a chance to further evaluate Alohi Gilman. Gilman has been excellent in the chances that he has received but still did not earn the starting job next to James before he was ejected from the game.
Perhaps this could be the eye-opener for Staley and the Chargers to realize to start Gilman alongside James at safety and utilize Nasir Adderley more as a versatile defensive back. Regardless, there is good that can come from James being cautious and sitting out a week. Only bad things can happen if the team rushes him back.