"I'm not stepping into this position to be anything that Derwin was," Phillips said Tuesday, via the L.A. Times. "I've played a lot of snaps in my career. I played a whole bunch of snaps last year. We got to the playoffs, and we were able to make a lot of plays.
"So it's not necessarily thinking of replacing Derwin. It's, 'Hey, this is a little bump in the road. We gotta fix it ... and keep it moving.' When you start thinking you're replacing somebody or you have to live up to what somebody else has done, that's when all the bad stuff starts to happen."
No team could replace a playmaker like James, a defender whose nose finds the pigskin like a truffle hog sniffs out fungi.
The Chargers will attempt to fill in the enormous gap left by James' injury with a host of players. While Phillips' main job will increase, L.A. is more likely to use a cast of characters to handle the load. Rayshawn Jenkins, already slated to start, could see his role adjusted. Corner Desmond King, who can play multiple spots, could have his snaps altered, as could Jaylen Watkins. Rookie Nasir Adderley would be a prime candidate to see additional snaps but remains out with a hamstring injury that has wiped out most of his training camp.
Making the best of a bad situation for L.A. is that the Chargers do employ a bevy of multidimensional players on the back end who can play several positions, and at least provide some cover for James' elongated absence.
"Those are the type of guys they want," Phillips said. "Those are the type of players they seek, guys that can play many different positions. So when one of your brothers falls like that, you can throw somebody in there and keep the whole thing moving."
Last playoffs, the Chargers flummoxed the Baltimore Ravens' run-heavy offense with a seven-defensive backs scheme, partially employed due to decimating injuries at linebacker. The same flexibility that allowed defensive coordinator Gus Bradley the ability to engage such a plan last year will now try to bail out a Chargers D that will be without its most dynamic playmaker for a while.