LAKE FOREST — In the Monday Night Football game between the Colts and Chargers, Derwin James delivered a hit that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
On second-and-2, wide receiver Ashton Dulin ran a route toward the flat on the right side of the field. Quarterback Nick Foles had pressure in his face and threw toward Dulin’s direction. Coming downhill at full speed, James leveled Dulin and dislodged the ball.
Dulin left the game and was ruled out with a concussion, and James was ejected for the hit. This sparked a tweet from Bears safety Jaquan Brisker.
“That’s football… physical”
Chargers coach Brandon Staley also disagreed with the call.
“It’s a play where they obviously laid the guy out in a tough position, which is their fault, not ours, and Derwin made an aggressive play,” Staley said in his postgame press conference. “I’ve seen him make a lot of tackles on plays just like that, and I know that his target was not above the neck. I know that.”
For Brisker, physicality is a part of his identity as a player. As a rookie, he is second on the Bears in tackles (86) and leads the team in sacks with four.
Since James was penalized for that type of play, Brisker believes that can have a direct impact on how other defensive players play their respective position.
“Yeah, I’ll say just say the difficulty is like that you’re kinda not free to not really be too physical,” Brisker said. “It was a good hit. It was below the shoulder, below the helmet. You know he’s trying to do everything he can, he’s going against a guy that is as big as him. So at the same time, you’re thinking like you want to hit this guy as hard as you can just to get him down. The difficult part is you don’t know how he is going to turn … You gotta throw your hands up kind of deal. Maybe he might turn … and then you might get a helmet-to-helmet.”
Brisker said the way for defensive players to adjust is to keep their head out of the play but still maintain the physicality.
In Week 11 against the Falcons, Brisker did sustain a concussion, and was forced to miss two games, but he said that won’t impact him on how he will continue to play his safety position. After he was cleared from concussion protocol, he said, “I’m going to still play aggressive.”
And despite seeing James penalized and ultimately ejected against the Colts, Brisker doesn’t plan on changing a thing.
“I wouldn’t say it impacts me, but I think it’s unfair the way they kinda kicked him out the game,” Brisker said. “It was a below the head, below the shoulder hit. It wasn’t too crazy of a hit. That’s a football play. We grew up, you know football, shoulder pads on, making big hits like that. I don’t think the game should change that much, but I thought that was a good hit.”