This past season, despite not receiving the amount of snaps he likely deserved, Uchenna Nwosu still finished the year with 3.5 sacks, second-most behind Joey Bosa’s 7.5. He was far-and-away the team’s best pass-rusher behind the Big Bear and yet, for whatever reason, the Chargers continued to trot out Jerry Tillery and Isaac Rochell to start at end during Melvin Ingram’s prolonged absence with his knee injury.
In 2021, Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski finally believes it’s time for Nwosu to shine now that the team is being coached by the defensive-minded Brandon Staley.
“The Los Angeles Rams finished with the NFL’s top-ranked pass defense under Staley last year by dropping more players into coverage and utilizing lighter boxes. In that setup, linemen can be more aggressive, attacking to stop the run and get after quarterbacks. This approach allowed Leonard Floyd to experience a career year.”
“Expect something similar with Uchenna Nwosu.”
“Too often, Nwosu’s versatility didn’t allow him to consistently work off the edge and create havoc. With Melvin Ingram III testing free agency, Nwosu should project as Joey Bosa’s bookend and have ample opportunities to make impact plays.”
During the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Nwosu was also used as an off-ball strongside linebacker on top of being a situational pass-rusher. Heading into the 2020 season, after years of fumbling around, Anthony Lynn noted that they were finally going to use Nwosu the way we all wanted: as a pure edge rusher. It unfortunately changed nothing.
The only real excuse I can see for his lack of usage is that he may not be all that great as a run defender. He is just 6’2 and 245 pounds, but that didn’t stop Ingram all these years. But maybe that’s too strong of a comparison. Either way, with the Chargers potentially running more five-man fronts, Nwosu won’t have to be relied upon as strongly. Staley’s defense with the Rams showed numerous ways of setting the edge in the run game with numerous defenders, including slot corners and box safeties.
If there’s a way to get the job done, Staley will find it. That, I have faith in. But if Nwosu is able to be the player we all believe him to be, and Staley can actually help guide him to a Floyd-esque breakout, then the Bolts definitely landed the coach they so desperately needed.
Now for today’s links.
Former Packers teammates in Cook and Linsley reunite in L.A. (Chargers.com)
Hayley Elwood interviews new Chargers center, Corey Linsley (Chargers.com)
Gavino Borquez profiles South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn (Chargers Wire)
Four free agent corners the Chargers can still sign (Bolt Beat)
Mel Kiper’s new mock draft (ESPN)
Jeremy Fowler has the latest free agency buzz from execs (ESPN+)
The 13 most-underrated free agent signings (CBS Sports)
Deshaun Watson is now facing 16 lawsuits (NFL.com)
Ryan Kerrigan is visiting the Bengals (NFL.com)
Aaron Rodgers wants the Packers to commit to him past 2021 (Bleacher Report)