The Rush Defense Needs More Denzel Perryman


Through the first quarter of the 2015-16 San Diego Chargers campaign there have a couple of glaring holes that need to be addressed in order to have a chance at the postseason. The biggest hole would undoubtedly be the defensive effort in stopping the run. The San Diego rushing defense so far has allowed 126.8 yards per game – including 175 to Cincinnati and 163 to Minnesota in losses – which ranks 29th in the NFL. The effort to bottle up even average running backs – such as the Cleveland Browns Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell – has been subpar. While some blame does rest upon the heavy backs of the defensive lineman, the majority of the criticism should be directed at the middle linebackers Manti Te’o and especially Donald Butler.

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While Te’o has done a good job in play recognition, but his tackling – which seems to be a recurring theme – just isn’t there and Butler has yet to record more than six total tackles in a game so far. This is particularly troublesome considering the middle linebacker corps has been the only area to not sustain injuries so far – knock on wood. Now while there are no “end-all-be-all” answers that will suddenly turn them into a juggernaut, but there is one player that could definitely help in this area.

His name: Denzel Perryman.

This second-round rookie, while not a headline pick, was made to stop the run and last week proved why. Up until he’d played a season-high 13 snaps against the Browns, his only playing time has been on kickoffs to which he has responded well, earning a special teams-high six tackles. Once getting defensive snaps however, he showed why he was known at the University of Miami for delivering huge hits on opposing tailbacks. He recorded four total tackles – in comparison to Butlers two – including three solos. Below are two of his tackles, the second one being an absolute bell-ringer on Crowell:

It no easy feat to make an NFL running back go backwards … hitting him from the side.

I felt this one watching the game through the television!

Don’t get me wrong, I still think Te’o and Butler contribute a significant amount to the defense especially in the run game, however if Perryman can get more reps, it would also help them as well. According to Head Coach Mike McCoy via Eric D. Williams of, “I think with the limited number of snaps he had [Sunday] he made some plays. He had the one big hit there at the end, and that’s what you love to see. But he’ll get better the more he plays.” The time is now to get him more playing time.

A three-man rotation of Butler, Te’o, and Perryman would provide each individual more time for rest and thus, a more effective performance during their allotted snaps. It would also put positive pressure on each of the two starters (Butler & Te’o) to raise their level of play in a form of friendly competition. Pressure to perform is something that’s difficult to deal with, however, internal pressure is much more productive than the pressure the linebackers have been receiving from the media.

I’m not saying Perryman should replace the current starters, but he’s certainly earned more snaps with his performance last Sunday. Especially with the Pittsburg Steelers coming up this week – with the legs of Michael Vick and LeVeon Bell – the defense had better be up for the challenge. Denzel’s north-to-south mentality would be particularly beneficial in this specific matchup and could play a big part in not letting the Bolt defense not get embarrassed on Monday Night.

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