The Chargers solidified their coaching staff by announcing the ascension of secondary coach Derrick Ansley to defensive coordinator.
Ansley has been the secondary coach for the Chargers the last two seasons, which has been a group met with injuries, but the players’ performance doesn’t drop off.
“I don’t think words can describe how I feel about this opportunity,” Ansley said.
This move almost immediately met with a stamp of approval by Chargers safety Derwin James. He took to Twitter and said, “One of the hardest workers I know deserve it fashoo happy for you.”
“For him to sign off on that, it’s a testament to our relationship,” Ansley explained. “We’ve had a great relationship since Day 1. I’ve known him for a while, going back to college. He’s been the same guy every single day. That brought some excitement to me, seeing him do that.”
The relationship between the team captain and defensive coordinator is key, so that relationship has only grown in the last two seasons. James is coming off 115 tackles, four sacks, and two interception season.
“He’s the heartbeat of our defense, of our secondary, even our team,” Ansley said.
This job came open when former defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill decided to take the secondary coach/passing game coordinator job with the Miami Dolphins under Vic Fangio.
Even though the change was made, it seems like business as usual in Costa Mesa. For instance, after the season, head coach Brandon Staley said he will continue to call the defense, so Ansley will be his eyes from the box, much like Hill.
The Chargers defense has experience ups and downs during Staley’s tenure. Their secondary has been around top-10 level regarding receiving yards given up, but their run defense has been abysmal for a good percentage.
“Obviously, the first two years, we had some growing pains,” Ansley explained. “We also did some good things, as well. In 2023, we’re going to focus on all 11 guys playing as one, just as we had the first two years. We’re going to put guys into positions to make plays, coach guys hard, play to our standard, our way, and get the results that we need.”
Ansley started his coaching journey almost 20 years ago at Huntingdon, a division two school in Montgomery, Alabama. He has been with the University of Alabama, Oakland Raiders, University of Tennessee and finally the Chargers.
He has had the opportunity to learn from some great coaches along his journey.
“Coach Saban gave me the advice that, ‘In the coaching profession, as a young coach, make sure that you make the best decision professionally,’ and that young coaches don’t need to be looking for jobs very quickly,” Ansley said.
Ansley said he looks forward to continuing coaching this team to help players grow into their roles. While also trying to help the team make it back to the playoffs.
“No coach has all the answers,” Ansley said. “The players are the ones that are seeing it through their helmet on the grass. I think that’s big for a coach, especially at this level, to have some flexibility to listen to the players because the players sometimes know best.”