Derwin James is Chargers’ biggest X-Factor in 2021

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When referring to an X-factor, we’re not talking about a player who lines up in the “X” position as a wide receiver. Instead, we’re talking about a player who steps up for the team in a big way to make a difference.

There are going to be several players on the Chargers who make an impact on both sides of the ball, but safety Derwin James’ might be the most significant.

That is why James was listed as Los Angeles’ biggest X-factor entering the 2021 season by Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon.

If the Bolts are going to hang with Mahomes and the Chiefs and, if a trade happens, possibly even Rodgers and the Broncos in 2021, they’ll need more from that unit. That includes help for elite pass-rusher Joey Bosa up front (ideally from young first-round picks Jerry Tillery and Kenneth Murray as well as Melvin Ingram III replacement Uchenna Nwosu), but the key might be a bounce-back year from Derwin James in the secondary.

Football is a team sport, but James is a one-man wrecking crew that has dictated a large portion of the team’s success.

In 2018, which is the year James did play a complete season, he was an All-Pro and the Chargers were 12-4 and in the playoff. The past two seasons, in which he was hurt, they had a losing record and missed the playoffs both years.

Now fully healthy, James will have a chance to return to his original form and display his versatility in new head coach Brandon Staley’s defense, where he will be used in a variety of roles.

When James is on the field, opposing offenses are more prone to struggle due to his rare skillset against the pass, run, or as a blitzer.

In two seasons, James has 139 tackles, three interceptions, 3.5 sacks and 14 passes defensed.

At the end of the day, if James is on the field then there’s a greater chance of Los Angeles making a deeper run.