The Chargers put a nice cherry on top of their player haul this past Monday when they signed former Rams defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day to help reinforce a defensive interior that hemorrhaged rushing yards throughout the entire 2021 season.
Joseph-Day’s previous connection with Brandon Staley was a big selling point for the team, but the former sixth-round pick’s emergence as one of the best, young run-stopping lineman in the NFL likely helped seal the deal to reunite the two sides. Now, Joseph-Day will likely head into the 2022 season as the leader of that position group having already played well and found success in Staley’s 3-4 scheme.
Like we did with J.C. Jackson, I reached out to Kenneth Arthur of our Rams sister site, Turf Show Times, to learn a few things about the Chargers’ newest defensive tackle.
1.) What type of player are the Chargers getting in Sebastian Joseph-Day? On and off the field?
Off the field is easy: SJD could be a future Walter Payton Man of the Year winner. He’s as active in the community as any member of the Rams, including WPMY winner Andrew Whitworth. He gets to stay in that LA community by signing with the Chargers and locals can check him out in his YouTube channel dedicated to eating food in the area.
On the field, Joseph-Day gives high effort on every play and he’s a tenacious run defender who played “Robin” to Aaron Donald’s “Batman” quite well over 2.5 seasons. An injury set him back and forced him out for the second half of 2021, but prior to that he was also having his best career season as a pass rusher; I would not be surprised if a fully healthy Joseph-Day would have finished with 8+ sacks last season.
Nobody knows how SJD will play without Donald and that’s been a concern for all former Rams defensive lineman; Morgan Fox signed a two-year deal with the Panthers in 2021 after posting 6.5 sacks next to Donald, then he was cut this week.
However, I think the reason Brandon Staley trusts him after working together for a year on the Rams is that he’s a high character guy, a good teammate, an emerging leader, and a stout run defender. Plus he goes from playing next to AD, to be slotted in between Bosa and Mack; it’s not like he has to change THAT MUCH from what was working so well for him.
2.) How did Joseph-Day become a starter so quickly after being a former sixth-round pick?
To some degree, Sean McVay seems to “promote by default.” Les Snead drafts guys who will replace outgoing free agents in 1-3 years and sometimes that works out well, other times it does not. The Rams signed Ndamukong Suh to a one-year contract in 2018 and drafted SJD—as well as FOUR OTHER DEFENSIVE LINEMEN. That includes John Franklin-Myers, a standout with the Jets now who might be even better than SJD. But JFM didn’t last long with the Rams (whoops) and that may be partly attributed to what SJD showed coaches in his rookie year on the sidelines. (He didn’t play at all in 2018.)
Then Suh left in free agency after the Rams lost the Super Bowl and naturally that was all planned for ahead of time once LA knew that there were internal options. Joseph-Day stuck close to Aaron Donald whenever he could and I believe he’s done so well because he’s voracious about learning and getting better and being coachable.
3.) Are Rams fans upset he signed elsewhere?
It’s not that Rams fans “aren’t upset” really. It’s more that the player who replaced him on the defensive line when he went on IR, Greg Gaines, emerged as a fan favorite and a potential star. If Gaines did not exist, the Rams might make a different offer to Joseph-Day and fans would be a lot more upset that he’s gone now. Everyone is rooting for Joseph-Day, but most are overly focused on Von Miller, Odell Beckham Jr., and with so many other headlines right now.
4.) What are Joseph-Day’s strengths? Weaknesses?
I think strengths are along the lines of what I laid out earlier in being a run-stuffer and great teammate. The Chargers are getting a major star in the locker room, in practices, on social media, and in setting an example for young guys. Even for veterans. He could also be improving his pass rush, it’s something he talked about focusing on last summer and then he had a career-high three sacks in seven games. Realistically a weakness might just be that his pass rush has a ceiling and there’s only so much value to a run-stopping nose tackle. Luckily, I think the Chargers can get away with other players finishing off the sacks, I’m sure that SJD will be a great complement to the rest of his new LA defensive line.