Where Thomas Davis Fits With The Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers have not made much noise in free agency but they did make a minor upgrade to their defense by signing linebacker Thomas Davis. The Chargers already have a number of playmakers on defense with numerous Pro Bowl invitations so it is a bit of a wonder why they signed a player who is clearly past his prime. Whether it is to instill toughness or to bring in a leader with playoff experience, they saw something in him. Let’s explore what Davis brings to the Chargers.
After an All-SEC career at the University of Georgia, Davis was drafted in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He did little his rookie year and only started one game. He became a starter the following year and recorded 88 tackles and 1.5 sacks. After another couple of average seasons, he exploded in 2008 for a then career-high 113 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
A torn ACL in the middle of his 2009 campaign limited his production to just 61 tackles, two interceptions, and 1.5 sacks. He tore his ACL again the following summer and missed the entire 2010 season. His bad luck continued during the second game of the 2011 season when he again tore his ACL, missing a large portion of a third straight season.
He came back stronger in 2012 and recorded 105 tackles while appearing in 15 games. The following season was a resurgence for the team as they made the playoffs for the first time in years. Davis was in the middle of that revival and recorded a career-high 123 tackles, two interceptions, and four sacks.
Two seasons later he was rewarded for his playmaking ability and was finally invited to the Pro Bowl while the Panthers made the Super Bowl. He recorded 5.5 sacks and four interceptions that season, both career highs, as the Panthers steamrolled their competition. The good times did not last into the Super Bowl and the team lost to the Denver Broncos 24-10.
Davis returned to the Pro Bowl the next two seasons and had a combined 182 tackles and five sacks during those years. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs and his relationship with the Panthers quickly soured. He was released when the season concluded and was quickly signed by the Chargers on a two-year deal.
His career has been filled with major injuries but he has always come back stronger. Possibly the most amazing injury story comes in 2015. He broke his arm in the NFC Championship Game but decided to play in the Super Bowl two weeks later. He started and finished that game playing with one arm. Any team in the league could use that kind of resiliency and effort from their players, especially their leaders.
The Chargers defense is loaded with experienced veterans with little playoff experience. However, most of their most talented defensive players are either on the line or in the secondary.
Their linebacker corps of Denzel Perryman and Jatavis Brown is a major concern for a team in the hunt for their first Super Bowl victory. Both players are young and have minimal stats to boast about in their brief careers. Neither has done much at rushing the passer and only recorded one sack and two quarterback hits in 2018. Davis has been to the playoffs multiple times in his career, including a trip to the Super Bowl. Playing in a conference loaded with talented teams, the Chargers could use someone with his experience.