Gary VanDyke dives into the treacherous terrain of the LA Chargers linebackers corps, and tries to pick a winner…
From The Sports Betting Glossary:
In and Out Teaser – An “in and out teaser” is when the player picks the favorite, underdog, over and under of the same contest.
Anxiety By Introduction
Before we dive into this topic on who would be the best Chargers linebacker to target for possibly the best production via any situation for our IDP purposes, I want to make a clear statement:
“I 100% wish I would not have added the Chargers in a Twitter poll that has me writing this article!”
With that said, I’ll explain here in the introduction why. When I decided to do this “Oddsmaker” series I had no intentions of diving into a couple of situations in the NFL for our IDP purposes.
This was #1 on that list. And in a moment of total delirium, I mistakenly must have had that thought in mind as I still managed to type them in as a poll choice. The reason I was actually avoiding the situation is that I had followed this closely last season while trying to make sense of it all.
Some of my readers and followers on Twitter may recall this with a giggle. What clearly could have been more of a cut and dry situation for the Chargers linebacker unit, evolved into a circus of chaos from day one. And now in 2018, there was not enough done in the off-season by the Chargers organization for me to personally “take” on this with a full amount confidence. It is likely setting myself up for a migraine all season and possibly a “miss” on a take about what will unfold.
But because I did not realize my mistake in time and the votes were well into being cast, I did not pull the rug out from underneath the voters. There is a lesson to be learned here, I’m sure of it and when my head stops hurting I hope to realize it. But for now it is what it is and I will attempt to “take” thru this topic with my personal process and ask for a golf term from you the readers.
Allow for a “handicap” as the whole thing plays out in the upcoming season. I’m sure the following dysfunctional recapping with the players involved may enlighten to why I ask for a measure of compassion in holding me to the likely outcome. Here goes nothing, let’s now set some odds on which linebackers will likely produce the best IDP production for us in 2018.
It should be Noted: For 2017 the Chargers brought in former Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley as their defensive coordinator. The defensive-minded coach was tasked in converting the Chargers previous 3-4 defensive scheme into the 4-3 base defense we see now. In the first year, the secondary and defensive line thrived while the linebacker core was disarray, to say the least.
The Main Event: The Three Main Linebackers On The Radar
*Noted: Perryman has 1 career forced fumbles not shown on this particular NFL.com screenshot.
Denzel Perryman is now entering the fourth season of his rookie contract after being selected in the second round in 2015. Pegged as an ascending talent each season, he has had injury issues that have limited him to only appearing in 33 of a possible 48 contests in three seasons. Out of those 33 contests, he has started with the first unit defense 26 of those games.
His best tier reached for our IDP purposes came in both 2015 and 2016 at a low tier 2 when using the core combined tackles as our base score setting. After sitting out the first nine weeks in 2017 with a lingering injury, he managed starting in a five-game stretch between week 10 to 14 before going down again in week 15 with injury and promptly missing week 16 only to return in week 17, but not as a starter. In that time span of time, he again flashed ascending talent but was inconsistent from week to week.
I would like to point out one alarming thing other than the injury history when we glance at his overall career stats. That would be the lack of playmaking stats such as interceptions and such when he has managed to be on the field. When we take his career four sacks, two passes defended, and one interception and divide that total of seven total playmaking stats into his career, 1,145 snaps played on defense, he makes a game-changing play (including the 1 FF) every 143 downs played. Are we really impressed?
*Noted: Brown has 2-career forced fumbles not shown on this particular NFL.com screenshot
Jatavis Brown was a late fifth-round selection in 2016 and now entering his third year with the Chargers. A rookie darling in 2016, he outperformed his draft status while being thrust into playing time due to the ongoing Chargers injury issues among the linebacker unit. In both 2016 and 2017, he managed to reach the lower tier 2 in IDP production for linebackers in combined tackles.
Out of a possible 32 regular contests, he has started 12 and played in 18 total games. In 2016 he endured an injury that kept him from playing for a four-game stretch in the middle of the season. In 2017 he struggled under new DC Bradley and was seemingly not a preferred starter for most of the season.
There are some concerns here with Brown that are obvious. How exactly does he fit in the scheme of things with the defense Bradley wants to run? And after being discarded as a viable starter after such a promising rookie campaign when given the opportunity, can he overcome whatever the issue was in 2017?
When we look at his career stats and overlook his confusing fall from grace, it is slightly more impressive than Perryman’s due to his 2016 rookie playmaking stats. While the biggest glaring question that stands out here is what exactly did happen to Brown in 2017. Granted he did play about 100 more snaps in 2016 (600) versus 2017 (506) but even taking out the falling out of favor equation, the one pass defended in 2017 after recording 3.5 sacks and 7 passes defended in 2016 is screaming red flags.
Was the scheme change that relevant? Was Brown just lucky in 2016 with production by default? At one point a rumored lingering ankle injury stalled his development? Whatever it was we have to take notice that he went from making playmaker type stats every 48th snap on average in 2016 to 1 in 506 in 2017.
Is this a sign that Bradley saw something or perhaps didn’t see something that we don’t know? Whatever happened, when we add 2017 and 2016 together his appeal takes a hit with a grand career total (with 2 FF) of 1 playmaker play every 88.5 down he has played.
*Noted: Pullard has 0 career forced fumbles not shown on this particular NFL.com screenshot
Hayes Pullard was a seventh-round pick by the Browns in 2015 but didn’t make the final cut and was placed on the practice squad. He was then signed off the practice squad by the Jaguars in early October the same year, while Bradley was the Jacksonville head coach. Pullard then stuck around on the Jaguars active roster as a depth player for the rest of 2015 and the 2016 season, to end up being released by Jacksonville in August of last year after Bradley became the Chargers DC.
Prior to Pullard being claimed off waivers in early September of last season, he had appeared in 24 contests total. At the time it looked like GM Telesco had simply brought in a familiar face for Bradley as a depth player and possibly in a practice field assistant coach role to assist the linebackers with in-time adjustments to what was a new defensive scheme.
But Pullard took advantage of the situation while Perryman was out to start the season and earned various roles with the first unit throughout the season. By season’s end, he reached into our tier 2 level as an IDP play, while ranking second overall in combined tackles and snap counts for the Chargers. The prior 24 contests we mentioned he had 33 total combined tackles and no notable playmaking stats indicating he may have had a few snaps with the defensive unit but likely more of a special teams player.
Comparing Playmaker Abilities
We are going to pause here and compare Perryman, Pullard, and Brown to other known linebackers in terms of their playmaking stats and tackles in 2017 per snaps played versus other known linebackers. This is my personal grading formula that I’ve developed some time ago. The reason for this, is to establish a base and make a comparable mark to establish how often a player makes a game-changing type of play for us.
To make it interesting, and likely to show merit for my formula, we will also add the PFF grades as well for those of you that like their grading system. (Disclaimer: I do not know nor care how PFF grades nor know their formula.)
Feel free to use their free services at this time, normally these are things we would have to pay to get. Just google your way to find them.
Comparing, suspensions just may be correct.
- Pullard has the pure look of a production by default player.
- Brown was just serviceable by default.
- Perryman struggled in general in default.
All likely due to not being able to acclimate to the new defensive scheme, along with Bradley’s approach to supplement the players trying to hide their apparent flaws. One glaring thing is clear, the lack of playmaking abilities in 2017 by the linebacker core was front and center.
The Undercards: The Linebackers Vying To Be In The Main Event in 2018
- Safety Adrian Phillips will need to be inserted here due to the fact that Bradley turned to him to play weakside linebacker as the main core linebackers struggled. The now fourth-year safety, who had never managed to make an impact as a safety, found himself in “favor” by hard work and understanding the scheme. Bradley opted for reliability in this case. Interesting enough, he recorded 63 combined tackles and 10 playmaking statistics in his 518 snaps with the defense. This gave him a 7.09 in the playmaking abilities grade while PFF gave him 50.5 (Poor) grade for his play on the field. Again this is looking like the production by default due to falling into a starter by default.
- Uchenna Nwosu was selected in this year’s draft in the second round and was designated as an edge player by the NFL. The reports have him pegged as the OTTO linebacker (strong side) in Bradley’s scheme. With this indication that he is being considered for that OTTO we need to keep in mind Bradley’s past defenses and the fact that if they have reached full time playing status they still have not produced at a tier that has warranted much consideration as a reliable IDP source. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa also will hamper the idea it’ll change. The OTTO plays off the defensive ends, and those two won’t leave much out there as scraps for the OTTO.
- Kyzir White was drafted in the fourth round under a designated safety. Reports on him indicate a hybrid linebacker/safety role. With no direct info as to what position we would have to assume it would be more than likely at the weakside position per his physical specifications as well as his coverage skills as a safety in college. He does have the following in favor for him as of now:“@Chargers: Coach Bradley says Kyzir White has seen the most reps of anyone on defense this offseason by design. Says he has caught the team’s eye.”
- Kyle Emanuel also had momentum this time last season vying for the strongside linebacker position. He also was unable to make an impact by the time the season started. He did out snap Dzubnar if this matters.
- Nick Dzubnar had momentum this time last season and got his shot during the preseason to only falter and fail to crack the dysfunctional rotation. He was vying for the middle linebacker spot.
Oddsmaker Conclusion: Our In And Out Teaser
Disclaimer: I am only making the “call” on one player. This is #1 and only one I’m willing to claim in this take. My overall best advice is to avoid this entire situation if actually considering that you might not. I definitely don’t suggest any player mentioned to be considered at this point for your starting lineups. They should only be depth players with upside potential or in some cases not. If I’m personally to consider a Chargers IDP for 2018 it will be Bosa and Ingram as a defensive lineman or perhaps one or two of the obvious defensive backs. With that being said we will now see what all the information we have at hand at this time leaves us to consider.
- Jatavis Brown: He will bounce back and end up leading the Chargers linebackers in both production and snaps in 2018. Production level will likely range in the tier 2 level.
- Denzel Perryman: Injury history and inability live up to the hype year in and year out for whatever the reason will end up as the real “teaser” and disappoint by barely reaching the tier 2 level of production. Odds of another injury and missing at least ¼ of the season are greater than 50/50.
- Hayes Pullard: Relegated to a backup across the board with little appeal unless injuries occur. If things go right for a change for the Chargers we should see no better than a tier 4 or possible bye week fill-in outcome.
- Adrian Phillips: Relegated back to a depth player at safety with momentum as a package player. No tier suggested as such.
- Uchenna Nwosu: Has the momentum to win the starting strong side (OTTO) position by week one with more appeal in sack-heavy leagues but only as a tier 3 in standard combined tackle formats.
- Kyzir White: Should be considered a strong sleeper and likely will emerge as one of the top three producing linebackers for the Chargers. His ceiling should end up as a low tier 2.
- Nick Dzubnar: Limited to special teams “if” he makes the final roster.
- Kyle Emanuel: Depth at strongside “if” he makes the final roster.
I will claim these “takes”. The writing is on the wall.
- Perryman has at best a 50-50 shot he will remain a Charger after the 2018 season.
- Neither Dzubnar or Emanuel will be a Charger after 2018 if they manage to make the team this year.
Thank you as always for reading and feel free to find me on Twitter @HBogart27 for any follow-up questions or anything IDP.