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Evaluating Derwin James' Impact with Secondary Coach Derrick Ansley
Ansley details what it was like having Derwin James play multiple positions while calling defensive plays, how Asante Samuel Jr. can grow in year two, & more.
Feb 17, 2022

2021 is in the rearview and 2022's offseason is here.

With that being said, we thought this would be a good time to check in with some people we don't hear from often: the Chargers position coaches.

A Conversation with the Chargers Position Coaches

Next up is secondary coach Derrick Ansley.

Ansley details what it was like having Derwin James play multiple positions while calling defensive plays, how Asante Samuel Jr. can grow in year two, and what he's seen from other DBs including Michael Davis, Nasir Adderley, and Mark Webb.

Take us in to the secondary room, how was it working with that group of guys last season?

Derrick Ansley: It was a great experience. We had a group of guys who worked well together, overcame a lot of obstacles and adversity with injuries but they continued to pull the rope. They played until the final whistle in that [Week 18] Raiders game. They were a joy to coach, easy to coach. Those guys were hungry for knowledge, no ego in the room, everybody was for everybody, and it was one of my most enjoyable years in my 17-year coaching career.

Obviously, this year was huge for Derwin James. What's something you know about him from working with him that we might not know?

Ansley: He's always got a smile on his face. I know you guys see that in the media, but it's real. It's not for the cameras. He loves football, he loves getting better at his craft. He loves his teammates and affecting them in a positive way.

How much did he personally and his skills mean not only to the secondary, but to the whole defense?

Ansley: Everything – and I know that sounds cliché. He has an infectious personality on the grass and in the locker room, in the classroom, on the plane, in the hotel. People gravitate to this guy – and not just the players and coaches, we love being around him – but he's always asking about our kids and our families which is rare.

He can play multiple positions, but outside of the football part, the personality, intangibles, aggressiveness; all those things, he instills those in other people. They may not have the same personality, but he makes those guys better as well.


Pro Bowl AFC starter | 118 total tackles | Became the first defensive back and eighth player since 2000 to post 100 tackles after missing the entire previous season due to injury

What was it like having Derwin be the signal caller for that side of the ball?

Ansley: Exciting. Especially for him, it was kind of an honor for him and an honor for the secondary coach as well! It's an honor for a secondary guy to wear the dot so I took responsibility there. We embraced that responsibility. He loved it. He loved being the guy everything had to go through. He played multiple positions which made his role in the defense that much more difficult, moving around and calling the defense. He never flinched and embraced it every week.

Getting to Asante Samuel Jr., Brandon Staley said it's really hard to come in as a rookie and start at cornerback.

What did he show you this year?

Ansley: Resilience. Toughness. Short-term memory. Competitive character. All the things that make a corner unique that you have to have in the National Football League, he has those intangibles. He wants to be great, doesn't blink in adversity, the pressure doesn't get to him – he actually thrives in it.

He's kind of got that same personality as Derwin. They're very competitive at heart but he's kind of a punch-the-clock-workman-type guy that goes about his business like a 10-year vet. Most of the time in the meeting rooms you wouldn't know he was in there because he's locked in, doesn't say much, absorbing everything you say. As his position coach, if you tell him something one time, it's very rare that a rookie can get it and understand it. He brought that in day one.

The adage is the biggest jump a player can make is from year one to year two – where can he improve?

Ansley: Just anticipation and understanding the speed of the game and how people may try to attack him; more situational football. The physicality will slow down because he's got one year under his belt.  Just anticipating what's coming next, where's my help at on every single down, just the things that come with experience.


"Those are two guys I’m very excited about going into year two."

Getting to some of the veterans like Michael Davis and Nasir Adderley, how will they benefit coming off a year in this system?

Ansley: Those are two guys I'm very excited about going into year two because they came from a system that was fairly different than what we did this year.

Starting with Mike, you started to see some of that growth toward the end of the year. I'll go back to the Giants game, a game that sticks out, he played that game very well. I think that's the Michael Davis we hope to see next year on a game-to-game basis.

Then with Nas, Nas is super talented, has a lot of explosion and ability in his body. He just needs to calm down and let his eyes take him where he needs to be and let those natural abilities express themselves. He did a great job tackling this year. I just think his game next year, being that guy who can help Derwin back there and communicate and anticipate things back there, can help Derwin as the signal caller as well.


"Those guys were hungry for knowledge, no ego in the room, everybody was for everybody, and it was one of my most enjoyable years in my 17-year coaching career."

And then finally, we didn't see Mark Webb a whole lot this year, but what's your assessment of him?

Ansley: We saw a lot from Mark in practice. I saw a lot from Mark competing against him in the SEC his whole career. So I know what's in that body. There's a lot of untapped potential there. He's long, he's lanky. He's got pro-safety movements and really good ball skills. He's another guy, a lot like Asante, who just loves to play. That can be a great trait for a young DB because he has a short memory. Mark's the type of guy who thinks he's gonna make every play, nobody is better than him.

He's a competitor and unfortunately the injury slowed him down this year, but we saw enough from him in fall camp and during the preseason and in training camp, we saw some things that can give us some confidence that he can go out and help us play some winning football.

He's a lot like Derwin where he has some position flexibility where he can play safety, he can go play the star, money position on third down, get close to the line of scrimmage and cover some of the bigger tight ends. Those are some of the things he brings to the table that we're excited about with getting him back on the grass.

Take a look back at the best photos of Derwin James from the 2021 season.

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