With the addition of rookie safety Derwin James and the return of Pro Bowl cornerback Jason Verrett, the Chargers' 2018 secondary has the feel of an iconic group that Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley once coached.
ESPN's Eric Williams has dubbed Los Angeles' secondary "Legion of Boom 2.0," a homage to the original group of Seattle Seahawks that included All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, All-Pro safety Earl Thomas and Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor. Bradley spent four seasons in Seattle as the defensive coordinator and coached the trio together as full-time starters from 2011-12.
"This group has some traits of that group that was in Seattle," said Williams on Wednesday's episode of Chargers Weekly. "You talk about Sherman and Thomas and the athletic ability that they had up there. But I think [the Chargers] do it a little bit different, because their skill sets are different."
|Season||2011 Seahawks||2012 Seahawks||2017 Chargers||2018 Chargers|
|Scoring Defense Rank||7th (19.7 Pts/G)||1st (15.3 Pts/G)||3rd (17 Pts/G)||?|
|Passing Defense Rank||11th (219.9 Pts/G)||6th (203.1 Yds/G)||3rd (197.2 Yds/G)||?|
While Los Angeles may not have the overall size and length that Seattle's secondary once boasted, its depth and playmaking ability are among the best in the NFL. By adding Verrett back into the mix, the Chargers have four starting-caliber cornerbacks. In addition to Pro Bowl corner Casey Hayward, Desmond King and Trevor Williams both return in 2017.
"It makes you even more dangerous in the back end, because you're probably going to get your hands on more footballs with Jason out there," Williams said.
Verrett should help the Chargers maintain or improve their takeaway total from last season (27, sixth in the NFL). Aided by perhaps the league's best pass rush, Hayward has 11 interceptions the past two seasons. Only Rams cornerback Marcus Peters has as many during that time.
Then there's James, who joins a group of safety's that include veterans Adrian Phillips and Jahleel Addae. Williams said the 6-foot-2, 215-pound rookie looked as good as advertised during offseason workouts, noting his athleticism, size and speed.
"He's not as big as Kam Chancellor, but he's close," he said.
James also has an alpha mentality that's not necessarily common among 21-year-old rookies.
"I talked to Gus about [James] in terms of his leadership skills," Williams said. "And he thinks that Derwin is a guy that -- even though he hasn't done it yet -- is showing some leadership characteristics and is a guy who can help rally people in that secondary."
Listen to the entire interview with Williams below. Other topics include wide receiver Mike Williams' offseason (27:50), spending Father's Day Weekend with quarterback Philip Rivers (36:00), and training camp storylines (38:15).