Bowman lends expertise to Lions Frontier seeking more production
The addition of former Montreal Alouettes big defensive end John Bowman will bring more than 14 years of football experience to the young Lions defensive unit.
Bowman has taken a step back from his final season with Montreal in 2019 and after a short period of reflection and involvement with the CFL Players Association, he is ready to pass the torch to young players in the den.
“I’m just going to do my best, be relatable and simple so that I don’t make this game bigger than it is,” Bowman said Monday during the Lions virtual availability.
Bowman, the Alouettes’ all-time sacks leader (134), was a two-time CFL All-Star and nine-time East Division All-Star throughout his playing career. He also helped the Alouettes win two Gray Cups in 2009 and 2010.
From a guy who produced plenty of defensive saves during his playing days, Bowman doesn’t want his players to play for stats alone: sacks in particular.
“I was taught not to coach for stats. I don’t care about sacks because I don’t control the sack. The only thing I can do is do my job. Like get my hand, do my chop, make my spin move, make my run and if the quarterback still has the ball, then I’m in luck,” Bowman said.
“I had good rushes, but the quarterback throws the ball. It’s not a bag but I earned my reputation. I had great rushes, I fired the quarterback, but I passed interference on the DB, is that my fault? The only thing you can do is work. If you care about getting sacked, hitting quarterbacks, and getting your bonuses, you’re going to stink.
It was a mistake Bowman had made earlier in his career. He recalled his second season with the Alouettes in 2007 when he recorded seven sacks in Week 15, he thought if he recorded three more sacks he would be rewarded with a salary bonus. He finished the season with just that same total of seven sacks.
“You earn your rep, play every down firmly and play relentlessly. This is where you get stats. This is going to sound weird coming from a guy who can rush. But you just won your rep and if the quarterback has the ball, you’re there,” he added.
The Brooklyn, New York native said coaching resurfaced during the latter part of his playing career. As a veteran, he naturally became more vocal in helping his teammates with their technique.
“I mean in 2014, 2015, I thought about it. 2016, it really hit me,” he recalled.
And growing up, Bowman looked for role models to lean on. Now he is able to impact people on and off the pitch.
“My journey growing up was tough. Luckily for me, I got into boxing. I met guys like Mike Tyson, Mark Breland. I thought, ‘If I ever find myself in a situation where I can help my community or be someone to rely on, I will.
Bowman also acknowledges that the 2021 young defensive line unit has plenty of room for improvement. For him, it all comes down to experience. He will be more of a hands-on learning type of coach.
“My rookie year, I had two sacks. So if I hadn’t had the opportunity to improve to grow, I wouldn’t be 134. It’s about gaining experience , to have opportunities to improve and improve your skills,” he said.
“I don’t know what those guys learned. Because until you know what someone has learned, maybe they’re doing it the right way. So go ahead and tell them what I know, what worked for me and hopefully it will work for them.
Before joining the Alouettes and beginning his career in the CFL, Bowman spent 2005 in the National Indoor Football League. For him, that may seem like a long time ago, as the 39-year-old once held those seats as a rookie.
“When you’re young, you don’t know much. You just go out there and go wild. But the more you learn at a younger age, the better you become over the seasons,” he said.
“That’s why as a player I didn’t drop drastically because when I was young in 2008 Mike Sinclair came along. He taught us how to be not only football players but also passers, how to master our skills, what to look for, what things we can leave out, so you take that information, process it, and make it your own.
Michael Sinclair, the former three-time NFL Pro Bowler who joined Montreal’s coaching staff from 2008 to 2012, is an excellent mentor to Bowman, alongside former teammate Anwar Stewart, who is currently the defensive line coach at the University of Kentucky. Bowman also talked about using “Trestisms” in his new role with the Lions, clearly a tribute to his former head coach in Montreal, Marc Trestman.
It’s now a new chapter for the new 2022 Lions defensive line coach as he aims to get the most out of the club’s defensive line. At the same time, Bowman will learn from head coach Rick Campbell and defensive coordinator Ryan Phillips.
“I am delighted to work with the group. I will learn from all the other coaches. I don’t want to point fingers at anyone. i just want them [players] to know that each of them will get the best I’ve had. They will all be treated equally and fairly. The more I can put my knowledge into them, I think they will become better,” he said.