Sebastian Joseph-Day says Chemistry II will put Chargers’ defense in better class

Chargers defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day douses his head with water.
Chargers defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day douses his head with water. He explained Monday that he believes increased familiarity will lead to increased performance for the defense.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

A year ago, the Chargers’ defense was rebuilt. Now, the group is thinking more about a reboot.

Sebastian Joseph-Day explained Monday that he believes increased familiarity will lead to increased performance.

“I think this year, that chemistry is built,” the veteran defensive tackle said. “Chemistry is built through trials and tribulations. I really believe that that is going to shape us in a way better way moving forward.”


Last offseason, Joseph-Day was part of a defensive overhaul that also included the additions of Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson, Austin Johnson, Morgan Fox, Kyle Van Noy and Bryce Callahan.

Despite the influx of proven play and experience, the Chargers still finished 20th in yards allowed and 21st in points surrendered. They were last in the NFL against the run, giving up an average of 5.4 yards per rush.

Chargers offensive coordinator Kellen Moore used tight ends frequently during his time with the Dallas Cowboys. So why didn’t the Chargers draft one?

May 1, 2023

This offseason, their only veteran addition has been linebacker Eric Kendricks, who will take over for Drue Tranquill. The Chargers also haven’t re-signed Van Noy or Callahan and didn’t bring back Nasir Adderley, who decided to retire.

The group otherwise largely remains intact, that continuity something Joseph-Day suggested will make a difference in 2023.

“That’s what we have now because everyone’s kind of seen how each other plays,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest thing, the cohesion that’s come together.”

Joseph-Day likened the situation to a basketball team needing time to adjust to the various playing styles and differing strengths of its individual parts.


Six prime-time games in 2023-24 schedule means NFL considers Chargers to be on the rise and interesting to viewers.

May 11, 2023

He also said he’s convinced the arrival of Kendricks, who spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Minnesota Vikings before signing with the Chargers as a free agent, will help with the defensive communication.

“I think having Eric in there is definitely going to help us get those adjustments faster — less wasted time, less thinking,” Joseph-Day said. “He’ll be able to see that faster and get that communicated to us.

“That will help, honestly, everyone play faster. At the end of the day, you can’t play defense slow. The moment you’re a step behind or you miss something, that’s how you get got.”

Joseph-Day and Tranquill engaged in a heated sideline exchange during a game in December against the Tennessee Titans over a communication problem.

The Chargers didn’t pursue re-signing Tranquill and instead turned to Kendricks, whom coach Brandon Staley has praised for his leadership and production while playing in a similar scheme with the Vikings.

Although the bulk of their on-field personnel has remained the same, the Chargers do have a new defensive coordinator. Former secondary coach Derrick Ansley took over in February for Renaldo Hill.

From left, Chargers coach Brandon Staley, safety Derwin James, defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley and GM Tom Telesco talk.
From left, Chargers coach Brandon Staley, safety Derwin James, defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley and general manager Tom Telesco talk football.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Staley will continue to call plays on game days and mastermind the defense, but Ansley has assumed an increased role. He last coordinated a defense at the University of Tennessee in 2020.

“He has this calm urgency about him that I really enjoy,” Joseph-Day said. “It’s intense, but it’s calm. It’s really interesting. I really like the mentality he’s bringing. … I think it’s everything we need right now.”

The Chargers’ defense has two significant health issues that will be monitored closely this summer. Jackson and Johnson both are coming back from season-ending knee injuries.

Jackson has been ramping up his football activity and told the NFL Network last week that he hopes to be 100% for the start of training camp in late July.

Johnson was on the field Monday working with other rehabilitating players and appeared to be moving well.


Experience with the Chicago Bears tells Chargers coach Brandon Staley that being off early, Week 5, is not always a detriment

May 12, 2023

The return of Jackson, a Pro Bowl selection with New England in 2021, would give the Chargers the option of playing Asante Samuel Jr. more at slot corner, increasing the defense’s depth.

“He has really good instincts, really good balance and body control,” Ansley said of Samuel. “He can communicate and plays well with others inside. He has a unique skill set that he can play inside and out, which is why we drafted him.”

The Chargers also have defensive tackle Otito Ogbonnia working his way back from a season-ending knee injury. As a rookie in 2022, Ogbonnia was making solid strides before he got hurt in Week 10.

Last month, the Chargers used their second-round pick on Tuli Tuipulotu, an edge rusher from USC. Though only 20 years old, Tuipulotu is in a position to earn a vital contributing role as a rookie.

“He’s one of those old souls,” Ansley said. “He’s all football. He’s trying to find the extra things that are going to help his game. He’s going to be fine that way. The older he gets, those things will help.”