Article: Chargers Wire
Written By: Gavino Borquez
Originally Posted: September 27, 2018
The Chargers defense has struggled as a whole unit through the first three weeks, and that’s primarily due to the inability to pressure opposing team’s quarterbacks. We learned that defensive end Joey Bosa will likely be out until after the bye week, which would mean he won’t see the field until November against the Seattle Seahawks.
Something has to change with Los Angeles’ defensive game plan moving forward if they want to return to the unit they were in 2017, and it all starts up front. Specifically, using the player more of the player that they drafted in the second-round of the 2018 NFL draft, linebacker Uchenna Nwosu.
Nwosu may not be the best pass-rusher on the team, but with his strength, effort, athleticism and speed off the edge, he has shown to be capable, especially in the preseason. Nwosu wins most of his battles with his first step or his ability to get underneath bigger offensive linemen and win with great pad level and leg drive.
Nwosu is not a technician and appears to be somewhat limited in his number of counters essentially leaving him as a speed-rusher, and does not use his hands as much as you would like to see, but when he does, he often uses a two-hand swipe.
A two-hand swipe is executed when blockers are going to try to get their hands in on a defender’s chest. To prevent this from happening, they swipe through with both hands at the blockers elbows. This way if he pulls his hands back, they’ll still be able to knock his hands down. Without his hands in position, it’ll be a lot harder for them to execute a good block.
With that being said, let’s break down in five plays how Nwosu shows the ability to get after the quarterback and why he needs to be on the field more.
Nwosu is lined up outside of the left tackle. He times the snap perfectly, which, when combined with his electric get-off and a two-hand swipe to clear hands, it allows him to beat the left tackle around the edge. As he works to recover, Nwosu reduces his blockable surface area by slightly dipping his inside shoulder, allowing Nwosu to absorb the contact without diverting his path to the quarterback.
Nwosu is lined up outside of the right tackle on this play. He takes a very quick fake step outside then explodes inside with a strong rip to clear the RT hands and get into the backfield. Former Chargers LB Hayes Pullard is there as well to bring Rosen down.
Nwosu is lined up outside of the right tackle on this rep. Nwosu bursts upfield, using perfect stride length and frequency to eat up his cushion with the tackle, and uses the long arm move to create separation and protect his chest. It may seem like the RT beats Nwosu at the end of this play, but he forces the quarterback to step up into the pocket, leaving DE Isaac Rochell to acquire the sack.
Nwosu is aligned to the outside of the left tackle. After the ball is snapped, he explodes out of his stance and rushes down the tackle’s midline, making it appear as though he’ll use a powerful speed rush. Yet, right when he is in range to make contact, Nwosu puts his left foot in the turf, darts inside and swipes away the tackle’s hands to get the sack. This causes the LT to miss with his hands and lose balance, making it impossible to recover.
Nwosu got his first career sack just two weeks ago against the Buffalo Bills. He wins this rep with a simple speed rush, uses inside hands to bully and push back left tackle Dion Dawkins, sacking Josh Allen as he steps up in pocket to avoid safety Derwin James’ pressure.
There’s not a whole lot we can do in terms of increasing Nwosu’s snaps, but it’s clear that he showed in the preseason that he can be a force with he comes off the line of scrimmage.
Back during training camp, the former USC product spent as much time around Bosa as possible, picking his brain for any tips to improve his game. There are some flaws, but the more refined Nwosu gets, the more fearful opposing offensive tackles will become.
Here’s to hoping that Nwosu gets to see the field more than just 20 snaps per game.