NaVorro Bowman wants to be back in Oakland next year. His new Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther wants him back. Now we wait to see if it actually happens.
Guenther was hired as the team’s Defensive Coordinator after spending the last 13 years in Cincinnati, the last four of which as their DC. The previous seven years he was the Bengals’ Linebackers Coach, so he understands the importance of having a solid middle linebacker.
“I think NaVorro is a prototype middle linebacker, really,” Guenther said Wednesday over conference call. “The thing that impressed me most with NaVorro is that they got him here midseason and by the end of the year, it appeared to me that he was kind of the leader of the unit, making a lot of calls. You can see that on tape. It looks like he is a smart guy that understands the game. I love smart guys that love playing football. Hopefully we can get him back in the fold and keep him a Raider.”
Bowman took over the Raiders defense in week 7 and immediately led the team in tackles in a big win over the Chiefs. The 29-year-old former 4-time All Pro middle linebacker was cut in favor of youth in a rebuild in San Francisco. He didn’t miss a beat in crossing The Bay to Oakland. Though, as Guenther alluded, we still haven’t seen the best of Bowman.
“There’s still things that I can learn in this defense,” Bowman said prior to the team’s season finale. “I’m known for my instincts throughout the NFL and I haven’t been able to really use those instincts in this defense because I don’t really know it.
“I don’t know when I can take those chances. I don’t know who’s backing me up in certain calls. So if I’m able to come back next year and get a full training camp in and get used to really communicating with every single guy on the field, I’ll be able to do a lot more.”
Bowman said at the time that he was comfortable with Jack Del Rio and John Pagano as the coaches. Immediately after the season-ending loss, and Del Rio’s abrupt firing, he was far less certain about his future, but maintained that he would like to return.
“It is up in the air,” Bowman said of his future in Oakland. “I just wanted to come out today and finish strong for the guys that I practice with every day and play with pride and see where the chips fall. I had a great time here with the Raiders and a huge change just happened. There are a lot of things running through my mind, but I enjoyed my time with the Raiders. Hopefully if everything works out I’ll be back.”
And that final game? Bowman put up a team-leading and season best 13 tackles to finish as the Raiders’ leading tackler with 89 tackles in just 10 games. Get it done, Raiders.