Through the first six weeks of the season, the Chargers are running with a Nickel package on defense on over 80% of their snaps. For those who still don’t know what that means, the Nickel package incorporates five defensive backs on the field, which usually leaves two linebackers and four defensive lineman.
So far, rookie Kenneth Murray and Kyzir White have held down those two backer spots, totaling 321 and 284 snaps played thus far. Behind them is veteran Denzel Perryman who is enjoying a limited role while playing only 85 total snaps through five games. Despite the lack of opportunities, Perryman forced one of the Chargers four takeaways this year when he knocked the ball out of running back Joe Mixon’s hands during their Week 1 victory in Cincinnati.
It’s because of plays like that that have led Perryman to owning the Bolts’ top overall grade on defense with a 90.8. Yes, he’s played a fraction of the snaps compared to either Murray or White, but he’s still made just as much of an impact or more on a third of the snaps.
His current stat line includes 17 total tackles, one pass breakup, the forced fumble, and a quarterback hit.
This is the greatest three-play sequence of Denzel Perryman's career. And I don't even mean any three plays from this game, I mean literally these three plays in a row:— Tyler Schoon (@tylerjschoon) October 6, 2020
Pressure and QB hit
Perryman forced an offense to go three and out. By himself. pic.twitter.com/ws7SEF8Pu7
For context, Murray currently holds a grade of 46.8 — 70.0 is considered “average” — and White is even worse with a 39.5. Both have been just fine in run defense, but neither have been able to consistently hold up in coverage despite being above-average athletes at the position.
The defense has struggled closing out games when they’re needed the most. Is it due to a pure lack of execution? Does that possibly stem from the lack of established veterans throughout the middle of the the defense? It could be, and it makes me wonder if Anthony Lynn and Gus Bradley could decide to increase Perryman’s snap share going forward, as long as he shows he’s a better option than White, which isn’t asking much as of right now.
But what do you all think? Would any of you like to see Perryman get an increase in playing time? In what capacity would you like to see him used more? Let me know in the comments below.