Should the Chargers Sign Navorro Bowman After showing this week they have no real replacement for Perryman?
I knew it as soon as I saw it, during the opening minutes of the rematch against the Raiders that Denzel Perryman would be lost for the season. The anchor of our defense and hardest hitter gone for the year after suffering a brutal knee injury. The replacement was Hayse Pullard and USC alum. Pullard played fairly decent and even made a few big plays and recorded a couple tackles for losses. In fact the production of Pullard was good enough that I decided to hold off on writing this article until I saw how he performed after having one more game under his belt to really give a larger sample size to base it off of. However low and behold Pullard did not even get any playing time at all. So this tells me one of two things, either the team does not trust Pullard as a full time starter down the stretch or they were just experimenting with different players mid game against Denver.
Let’s talk about some of the experimenting they did to try to fill the void. Kyle Emanuel was moved from strong side linebacker (SAM) position to middle linebacker (MIKE). I have never been a big fan of Emanuel as he has never really made it as an undersized defensive pass rusher that he was coming out of North Dakota nor is the closing speed there from sideline to sideline. To his credit he did make one really big play on a 4th and 1 as he stuffed the ball carrier. However he was not trusted with any passing down coverage’s, this job went to back up safety Adrian Phillips who has been handling the Weak side linebacker (WILL) position on third downs with great success. While Phillips was thriving out of position on the weak side passing downs the same cannot be said of him playing in the middle. Phillips has thoroughly earned my respect over the last two seasons as I’ve watched him develop into a much better player through all his hard work. Even so he just cannot be asked to play middle linebacker and it was evident when he was in and instead of being a passing play it was a draw to the running backs as he is way too small to be asked to top the run up the middle like that. If Gus Bradley decides to continue to go with Phillips at this position then don’t be surprised to see opposing offenses attack this weak spot on regular bases with 3rd and short draw plays. With the news that defensive tackle Corey Liuget will also now be out for the remainder of the year, this could be a glaring weakness up the middle unless someone like Darius Philon or rookie Justin Jones steps up in a big way.
The team did promote linebacker Tre’von Johnson from the practice squad to the regular roster to help with what is now a thin position…..whoever he is. I would almost rather give special teams ace Nick Dzubnar a shot more so and that doesn’t exactly make me feel comfortable with that idea either. So if the solution isn’t in house then where would it come from? The answer comes in the form of unrestricted free agent Navorro Bowman. Why or how he is a free agent still and has not played all year long yet is beyond me and my understanding. In fact it was not that long ago that Bowman was considered one of the very best middle linebackers in the entire game. He was also considered the number one best coverage linebacker also. Bowman who is a 4X first team all pro linebacker and three time pro bowler is not even all that old as he just turned 30 this year. In my opinion, if the bolts really want and feel they can make a serious push this season then they need to at the very least consider him. It would probably take a few weeks for him to learn the system and get in football shape but even so this would make him fresh and a full go for the playoff push. He is absolutely a do it all linebacker and one that would be a perfect fit for Gus Bradley’s defense. In fact I believe it is a no lose situation. If he doesn’t fit in or if he isn’t the player he was then the team is no worse of at the position then they are now. Hell even if he is a shell of himself he is still better than Emanuel or Pullard on their best day. If he does work out well you could even convince him to stay beyond this year and play alongside Perryman next year and potentially move Kayzir White back to his natural position of free safety and replace the incumbent Jahleel Addae next year. The very least this move does is give the team options. They even have 1.7 million in cap space in order to pull something like this off. If the team decides to stand pat and just go with what they have then they need to strongly consider giving rookie second round pick Uchenna Nwosu a ton more looks. Even if it doesn’t work then at least it will accelerate the development of the investment of a high draft pick.
What do you think bolts fans? Should the team bring in a proven commodity like Bowman or give Nwosu more opportunities? Hell I’m even up for both, Nwosu I believe is being groomed to replace and be an upgrade over Emanuel anyways so why not kill two birds with one stone.