It was exactly a year, eight months and 14 days when Derwin James last made an appearance in a regular season game.
After missing the entire 2020 season with a knee injury, James returned to the action on Sunday against Washington, and the All-Pro safety did not lose a step.
Playing every defensive snap and lining up all across the formation, James made his presence felt – moving at a different speed than everyone else on the field, staying in phase in coverage, showing the range and body control to make plays on the football and the power as a tackler.
As a result, James finished second on the team with seven total tackles and a pass deflection. But the feat that stands out the most is that he recorded a 90.0 grade (second among safeties) and a 90.2 coverage grade (first among safeties), per Pro Football Focus.
Following the Chargers’ victory, head coach Brandon Staley gave out three game balls, and one of them went to James. While he earned it with his performance, it’s the message that Staley shared that validates how much of a difference-maker James truly is.
“One guy has been through a lot the past two years. We all know what our record is with Derwin James. We all know what our record is without the guy. We all know what he means. Without this guy, this whole movie is different,” Staley said.
At the end of the day, if James can stay on the field for the remainder of the season, Los Angeles’ chances of making a deep run will be at an all-time high.