An Overview of the Defensive Schemes for All 32 NFL Teams

Nick KostoraContributor IIIAugust 1, 2012

An Overview of the Defensive Schemes for All 32 NFL Teams

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    2012 will feature a variety of defensive changes across the NFL. With new coordinators, personnel, and playbooks come conversions from the 3-4 to the 4-3 and vice versa.

    A team's defensive scheme and the players on the depth chart equipped to execute that scheme are some of the most important pieces to the elusive Super Bowl puzzle.

    So where does each NFL team's strengths and weaknesses lie within their current defensive outlines?

    What exactly is each team's 2012 outlook?

    Let's answer these questions and learn about the state of current NFL defenses.

Arizona Cardinals

1 of 32

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Defensive Starters:

    • Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, O'Brien Schofield, Daryl Washington, Paris Lenon, Sam Acho, Patrick Peterson, Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes, William Gay

    Biggest Strength: Defensive Line

    Biggest Weakness: Linebackers

    2012 Outlook: For the first time in seemingly forever the Arizona Cardinals are a team that is going to go as far as their defense takes them in 2012. 

    Patrick Peterson is well on his way to becoming a shutdown cornerback and while the loss of Richard Marshall will be felt, this defense has more than enough talented pieces to compensate for the loss.

Atlanta Falcons

2 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Ray Edwards, Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters, John Abraham, Stephen Nicholas, Akeem Dent, Sean Witherspoon, Brent Grimes, William Moore, Thomas Decoud, Asante Samuel

    Biggest Strength: Cornerback

    Biggest Weakness: Linebacker

    2012 Outlook: The Atlanta Falcons defense was solid but underwhelming last season. The addition of Asante Samuel should provide a boost to the team's 20th ranked pass defense of a season ago and give much needed depth and support to the cornerback position.

    John Abraham and Ray Edwards are not getting any younger, but they are still plenty talented enough to anchor a competent front four along the defensive line.

Baltimore Ravens

3 of 32

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Defensive Starters:

    • Arthur Jones, Terrence Cody, Haloti Ngata, Courtney Upshaw, Ray Lewis, Jameel McClain, Paul Kruger, Lardarius Webb, Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed, Jimmy Smith

    Biggest Strength: Defensive Tackle

    Biggest Weakness: Outside Linebacker

    2012 Outlook: The Baltimore Ravens will survive as long as Terrell Suggs is out with injury, but it's not going to be easy. Everyone knows this is an aging defense nearing the end of its current incarnation. 

    Still, there are few units in the league as formidable as the one anchored by Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Ranking in the top five last season in both pass and rush defense showcases just how good Baltimore is across the defensive depth chart.

Buffalo Bills

4 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Mario Williams, Marcel Dareus, Kyle Williams, Mark Anderson, Kirk Morrison, Kelvin Sheppard, Nick Barnett, Terrence McGee, George Wilson, Jairus Byrd, Stephon Gilmore

    Biggest Strength: Defensive Line

    Biggest Weakness: Linebackers

    The addition of Mario Williams has only bolstered an already impressive defensive line for the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo is going to rush the passer with great success in 2012 and it will be up to the pass defense to keep up.

    If Stephon Gilmore proves to be as good as advertised and everyone stays healthy, this is a defense that could progress towards top 10 status throughout the season.

Carolina Panthers

5 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Greg Hardy, Terrell McClain, Ron Edwards, Charles Johnson, James Anderson, Jon Beason, Luke Kuechly, Chris Gamble, Charles Godfrey, Sherrod Martin, Captain Munnerlyn

    Biggest Strength: Linebacker

    Biggest Weakness: Defensive Tackle

    2012 Outlook: Carolina has one of the most underrated defensive units in all of football. Luke Kuechly should be a nice complementary piece to Jon Beason at the linebacker position.

    Charles Johnson and the defensive line must contain the rush better—ranking only 25th in the NFL last season-- but with health should come better numbers.

    This is a team to watch in 2012.

Chicago Bears

6 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Isreal Idonije, Henry Melton, Matt Toeania, Julius Peppers, Nick Roach, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Tim Jennings, Major Wright, Chris Conte, Charles Tillman

    Biggest Strength: Linebacker

    Biggest Weakness: Secondary

    2012 Outlook: The Chicago Bears defense is nothing if not consistent. The problem is that all of the defense's top playmakers are over 30. Age is creeping up on the Bears defense, but 2012 should still see good production out of the unit.

    Julius Peppers has returned to monster form since joining the Bears while Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and the linebacker core is as reliable as ever.

    One gripe is that the secondary must give up fewer yards to help out the front seven. If that happens the sky is the limit for Chicago.

Cincinnati Bengals

7 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3 with some 3-4 packages

    Defensive Starters: 

    • Robert Geathers, Domata Peko, Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson, Manny Lawson, Ray Maualuga, Thomas Howard, Nate Clements, Taylor Mays, Reggie Nelson, Leon Hall

    Biggest Strength: Secondary

    Biggest Weakness: Defensive Line

    2012 Outlook: How many non-Bengals fans knew Cincinnati had a defense ranked in the top 10 of the NFL last season?

    This is a solid unit that has become extraordinary in the secondary. Throwing the ball against Cincy is going to cost you as they have depth all over the place.

    If the front seven stuffs the run as well as they did last season the Bengals will have a top five defense by the end of 2012.

Cleveland Browns

8 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Jabaal Sheard, Scott Paxson, Ahtyba Rubin, Frostee Rucker, Chris Gocong, D'Qwell Jackson, Scott Fujita, Joe Haden, TJ Ward, Eric Hagg, Sheldon Brown

    Biggest Strength: Cornerback

    Biggest Weakness: Defensive Line

    2012 Outlook: It's easy to look at the Cleveland Browns defensive depth chart and wonder who most of the players are. Names like Ahytba Rubin, Scott Paxson, Eric Hagg, etc... do not exactly jump off the page.

    However, Cleveland actually ranked second, yes second, in the NFL last season in pass defense. If they can find any kind of balance from their 30th ranked rush defense then the Browns may be able to make some improvements in 2012.

    Unfortunately that does not seem likely with the pieces currently assembled.

Dallas Cowboys

9 of 32

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Defensive Starters:

    • Marcus Spears, Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, Anthony Spencer, Bruce Carter, Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware, Brandon Carr, Brodney Pool, Gerald Sensabaugh, Morris Claiborne

    Biggest Strength: Cornerback

    Biggest Weakness: Safety

    2012 Outlook: The Dallas Cowboys identified a clear weakness at cornerback this offseason and turned it into an immediate strength by adding Brandon Carr in free agency and Morris Claiborne in the draft.

    Those two playmakers should bolster a weak secondary that struggled against even the most mediocre of passing attacks last season.

    The front seven remains stout and should give opposing rushing attacks plenty of headaches.

Denver Broncos

10 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Robert Ayers, Ty Warren, Kevin Vickerson, Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller, Joe Mays, DJ Williams, Champ Bailey, Mike Adams, Quinton Carter, Tracy Porter

    Biggest Strength: Linebacker

    Biggest Weakness: Defensive Tackle

    2012 Outlook: The Denver Broncos must do two things to find success in 2012:

    1. Avoid the injury bug
    2. Stop the run

    If they can do both of those things there is no reason the Broncos can't be considered one of the top defensive teams in the AFC.

    Elvis Dumervil is a sack machine when healthy. Von Miller is developing into a perennial Pro Bowler and Champ Bailey is still one of the best CBs in the league.

Detroit Lions

11 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Cliff Avril, Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Justin Durant, Stephen Tulloch, DeAndre Levy, Chris Houston, Amari Spievey, Louis Delmas, Jacob Lacey

    Biggest Strength: Defensive Line

    Biggest Weakness: Secondary

    2012 Outlook: If Detroit had any semblance of a decent secondary it would be one of the best defensive units in all of football. As it stands the team has a formidable front seven that can really rush the passer and cause problems in the backfield.

    The secondary made slight improvements this offseason, but not enough to be considered even average. Detroit is going to give up passing yards in bunches and it will be up to Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams and the rest of the guys up front to compensate.

Green Bay Packers

12 of 32

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Defensive Starters:

    • Ryan Pickett, BJ Raji, Jarius Wynn, Clay Matthews, AJ Hawk, Desmond Bishop, Nick Perry, Sam Shields, Charles Woodson, Morgan Burnett, Tramon Williams

    Biggest Strength: Linebackers

    Biggest Weakness: Safeties

    2012 Outlook: The Green Bay Packers went 15-1 last season despite having the worst ranked pass defense in all of football. That may be more of a testament to the team's offensive firepower than anything else, but it still highlights the poor play of the secondary.

    The front seven is loaded top to bottom, but without improved secondary play the Packers may struggle to get back to the mountaintop. 

Houston Texans

13 of 32

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Defensive Starters:

    • JJ Watt, Shaun Cody, Antonio Smith, Connor Barwin, Brian Cushing, Darryl Sharpton, Brooks Reed, Kareem Jackson, Glover Quin, Danieal Manning, Johnathan Joseph

    Biggest Strength: Defensive End

    Biggest Weakness: Nose Tackle

    2012 Outlook: It says quite a bit about the Houston Texans depth chart when they can lose Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans and still have one of the top defensive units in the league.

    Houston ranked in the top five in both pass and rush defense a season ago and looks set to maintain that form in 2012. 

    The biggest issue facing the defense is Shaun Cody at nose tackle. He seems undersized for such an important position in the 3-4 scheme and it will be interesting to see how he holds up in that spot.

Indianapolis Colts

14 of 32

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Defensive Starters:

    • Cory Redding, Antonio Johnson, Drake Nevis, Robert Mathis, Kavell Conner, Pat Angerer, Dwight Freeney, Kevin Thomas, Tom Zbikowski, Antoine Bethea, Jerraud Powers

    Biggest Strength: Defensive End

    Biggest Weakness: Secondary

    2012 Outlook: The Indianapolis Colts are a team in transition both offensively and defensively in 2012. As the Andrew Luck era begins so does the reign of the 3-4 defense. Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney will still be called on to anchor the defense and create enough of a pass rush to keep offenses at least on their toes.

    Overall this is a defense with more problems than strengths and it would be a shock if the Colts don't struggle mightily with all the new personnel and switch in schemes.

Jacksonville Jaguars

15 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Jeremy Mincey, Tyson Alualu, Terance Knighton, Andre Branch, Daryl Smith, Paul Posluzny, Clint Session, Rashean Mathis, Dawan Landry, Dwight Lowery, Derek Cox

    Biggest Strength: Defensive Line

    Biggest Weakness: The Offense

    2012 Outlook: Like their cat family counterparts the Cincinnati Benagls, the Jacksonville Jaguars were a top 10 defense that no one was talking about in 2011.

    It is easy to be overlooked when the team is struggling to win games and is historically bad at throwing the ball.

    However, Jacksonville is skilled at all facets of the game without being exceptional at any.

    Tyson Alualu has not yet developed into the player the Jaguars hoped to be drafting, but overall  this is a defense that continues to improve.

Kansas City Chiefs

16 of 32

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Defensive Starters:

    • Tyson Jackson, Dontari Poe, Glenn Dorsey, Justin Houston, Jovan Belcher, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Brandon Flowers, Eric Berry, Kendrick Lewis, Stanford Routt

    Biggest Strength: Secondary

    Biggest Weakness: Nose Tackle

    2012 Outlook: Even after losing Brandon Carr the Kansas City Chiefs are going to have a formidable secondary in 2012. Brandon Flowers, Eric Berry, Kendrick Lewis and Stanford Routt will be sure of that.

    Where the Chiefs must improve is in their rush defense. The team ranked 26th in the league a season ago and hopes the addition of Dontari Poe through the draft will remedy the issue.

    If he is as good as the draft combine would indicate then Kansas City has few defensive issues heading into the season. If not, the Chiefs have a serious problem to work on.

Miami Dolphins

17 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3 with some 3-4 packages

    Defensive Starters:

    • Jared Odrick, Paul Soliai, Randy Starks, Cameron Wake, Koa Misi, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett, Richard Marshall, Chris Clemons, Reshad Jones, Vontae Davis

    Biggest Strength: Pass Rush

    Biggest Weakness: Secondary

    2012 Outlook: The Miami Dolphins are a tough team to predict for heading into 2012. Their top tackler from last season—Yeremiah Bell—has left for the New York Jets and the team's most recognizable face—Jason Taylor—has retired.

    Cameron Wake will ensure the pass rush remains a legitimate threat while the secondary needs to make serious improvements over their efforts from last season. The loss of Bell will clearly hurt, but the addition of Richard Marshall will be a nice boost to the secondary and may help the unit stay above water this season.

Minnesota Vikings

18 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Brian Robison, Letroy Guion, Kevin Williams, Jared Allen, Chad Greenway, Jasper Brinkley, Erin Henderson, Chris Carr, Harrison Smith, Mistral Raymond, Chris Cook

    Biggest Strength: Defensive End

    Biggest Weakness: Safety

    2012 Outlook: Harrison Smith and Josh Robinson were drafted by the Minnesota Vikings because the team knew it had to improve its pass defense.

    Whether or not these draft picks will pay immediate dividends remains to be seen, but the Vikings defense has remained a constant during all the offensive turnover in recent years.

    The pass rush led by Jared Allen is still good and so is the rushing defense. Any improvement in the secondary will go a long way for Minnesota.

New England Patriots

19 of 32

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Defensive Starters:

    • Rob Ninkovich, Kyle Love, Vince Wilfork, Trevor Scott, Bobby Carpenter, Brandon Spikes, Jerod Mayo, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Steve Gregory, Kyle Arrington

    Biggest Strength: Defensive Tackle

    Biggest Weakness: Secondary

    2012 Outlook: New England's defense was less than spectacular last season and that is being rather polite about it. This is a team that is going to go as far as the offense takes it and hopes the defense can avoid too many mistakes.

    The Patriots made plenty of defensive additions in the draft, but this is still a unit that is far from being noteworthy.

New Orleans Saints

20 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Cameron Jordan, Brodrick Bunkley, Sedrick Ellis, Will Smith, Scott Shanle, Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne, Jabari Greer, Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins, Patrick Robinson

    Biggest Strength: Defensive End

    Biggest Weakness: Loss of Jonathan Vilma

    2012 Outlook: 2012 may look bleak for the New Orleans Saints defense in the wake of the "Bountygate" scandal, but there is still talent to be found on the depth chart.

    Where the defense absolutely must get better is in the secondary. The team ranked 30th in the league last season allowing 259.8 passing yards per game last season.

    The Saints have signed multiple linebackers this offseason and it will be interesting to see how they get together and help this defense rally together in the coming year.

New York Giants

21 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph, Chris Canty, Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathia Kiwanuka, Chase Blackburn, Michael Boley, Corey Webster, Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle, Terrell Thomas

    Biggest Strength: Defensive End

    Biggest Weakness: Cornerback

    2012 Outlook: The New York Giants defensive line remains one of the best in the NFL and should carry the defense in 2012.

    Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul provide a relentless assault of a pass rush that more than made up for the defenses struggles last season as a whole.

    Cornerback is an area that must get better and the development of second year player Prince Amukamura and rookie Jayron Hosley will go a long way in fixing the Giants' poor pass defense.

New York Jets

22 of 32

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Defensive Starters:

    • Quinton Coples, Sione Pouha, Muhammad Wilkerson, Bryan Thomas, Bart Scott, David Harris, Calvin Pace, Darrelle Revis, Yeremiah Bell, LaRon Landry, Antonio Cromartie

    Biggest Strength: Cornerback

    Biggest Weakness: Defensive Tackle

    2012 Outlook: Quinton Coples should provide the jolt of energy the New York Jets defensive line seemed to be missing last season. 

    This is a solid (yet often overrated) unit that does have a great secondary within its ranks. The tandem of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie is among the best in the NFL and the additions of LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell should make passing against the Jets an even more daunting proposition.

Oakland Raiders

23 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Lamarr Houston, Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Matt Shaughnessy, Philip Wheeler, Rolando McClain, Aaron Curry, Shawntae Spencer, Tyvon Brach, Michael Huff, Ronald Bartell

    Biggest Strength: Defensive Tackle

    Biggest Weakness: Defensive End

    2012 Outlook: The Oakland Raiders feature a defense that needs to get better just about everywhere in 2012.

    The team ranked 27th in both pass and rush defense a season ago and with Rolando McClain suspended to start the season the outlook is grim at best for the unit.

    Stanford Routt and Lito Sheppard are both gone from the secondary and that should be the worst aspect of the Raiders defense in the coming season.

Philadelphia Eagles

24 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Trent Cole, Mychal Kendricks, Demeco Ryans, Brian Rolle, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Kurt Coleman, Nate Allen, Nnamdi Asomugha

    Biggest Strength: Cornerback

    Biggest Weakness: Outside Linebacker

    2012 Outlook: Nnamdi Asomugha did not look comfortable last season as the Philadelphia Eagles juggled three star cornerbacks and played far too much zone coverage for his liking.

    Now Philly is set to allow Asomugha to return to his native man coverage and should see increased production from last season's huge free agent signing.

    Bringing in Demeco Ryans and drafting Mychal Kendricks will bolster the defense and allow the Eagles to contend in the fierce NFC East.

Pittsburgh Steelers

25 of 32

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Defensive Starters:

    • Ziggy Hood, Steve McLendon, Brett Keisel, Lamarr Woodley, Larry Foote, Lawrence Timmons, James Harrison, Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Keenan Lewis

    Biggest Strength:  Linebacker

    Biggest Weakness: Nose Tackle

    2012 Outlook: In 2012 the Pittsburgh Steelers defense will look like—you guessed it—the Pittsburgh Steelers defense.

    This is one of the most consistently stellar units in all of the NFL and there is no reason to believe that will change this season.

    Nose tackle is a slight issue, but Pittsburgh is still dominant in both pass and rush defense.

    Nothing to worry about here.

San Diego Chargers

26 of 32

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Defensive Starters:

    • Corey Liuget, Antonio Garay, Vaughn Martin, Shaun Phillips, Takeo Spikes, Donald Butler, Jarret Johnson, Quentin Jammer, Atari Bigby, Eric Weddle, Antoine Cason

    Biggest Strength: Outside Linebacker

    Biggest Weakness: Nose Tackle

    2012 Outlook: San Diego had a good defense last year, but the unit never entered into that "elite defense" discussion.

    With a wide open AFC West race this season it will be of paramount importance this season that the Chargers defense performs at a high level.

    The drafting of Melvin Ingram was a huge addition as he is capable at both defensive end and outside linebacker.

    Ingram, along with Shaun Phillips and Corey Liuget should give the front seven stability all season.

San Francisco 49ers

27 of 32

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Defensive Starters:

    • Ray McDonald, Isaac Sopoaga, Justin Smith Ahmad Brooks, NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, Carlos Rogers, Donte Whitner, Dashon Goldson, Tarrell Brown

    Biggest Strength: Linebacker

    Biggest Weakness: Cornerback

    2012 Outlook: The San Francisco 49ers do not have an elite secondary. Luckily they are so good against the run that it really doesn't matter.

    Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith are both scary good while Justin Smith has been overlooked by the mainstream media for far too long.

    The 49ers don't allow rushing yards or touchdowns and that is not going to change anytime soon.

    Solid production out of the secondary is what San Fran needs most in 2012.

Seattle Seahawks

28 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Red Bryant, Jason Jones, Brandon Mebane, Chris Clemons, KJ Wright, Barrett Ruud, Leroy Hill, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Brandon Browner

    Biggest Strength: Secondary

    Biggest Weakness: Defensive Tackle

    2012 Outlook: Seattle has an underrated secondary that should continue to cause turnovers and pick off passes in droves in 2012.

    The addition of Bruce Irvin in the draft may have been heavily scrutinized, but he is going to make an immediate impact rushing off the edge and getting to the quarterback.

    Seattle may not have that superstar leader of the defense, but this is a solid unit all the way around.

St. Louis Rams

29 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Chris Long, Michael Brockers, Kendall Langford, Robert Quinn, Mario Haggan, James Laurinaitis, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Cortland Finnegan, Darian Stewart, Quintin Mikell, Janoris Jenkins

    Biggest Strength: Defensive End

    Biggest Weakness: Safety

    2012 Outlook: The St. Louis Rams struggled all of last season to get consistent play out of the cornerback position and they are hoping that issue has been properly addressed by adding Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins to the depth chart.

    However, the passing defense actually ranked seventh in the league last season. It was the rush defense that posted poor numbers. Drafting space-hogger Michael Brockers will give stability to the defensive tackle position and improve the D-line greatly.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

30 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Michael Bennet, Gerald McCoy, Amobi Okoye, Adrian Claiborne, Quincy Black, Mason Foster, Lavonte David, Aqib Talib, Mark Barron, Ronde Barber, Eric Wright

    Biggest Strength: Secondary

    Biggest Weakness: Linebacker

    2012 Outlook: Will the real Gerald McCoy please stand up? McCoy has yet to live up to his billing as a top-five draft selection and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers desperately need to improve at stopping the run. The Bucs allowed a staggering 156.1 yards per game on the ground last season.

    However, Tampa Bay has definitely made strides to improve their less than stellar secondary. Drafting Mark Barron and adding (an overly expensive) Eric Wright will bolster a secondary that features mainstays Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber,

    Is this the best unit in the league?

    Not by a long shot, but it's getting better.

Tennessee Titans

31 of 32

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Defensive Starters:

    • Derrick Morgan, Sen'Derrick Marks, Jurrell Casey, Kamerion Wimbley, Akeem Ayers, Colin McCarthy, Will Witherspoon, Jason McCourty, Jordan Babineaux, Michael Griffin, Alterraun Verner

    Biggest Strength: Outside Linebacker

    Biggest Weakness: Defensive Tackle

    2012 Outlook: The Tennessee Titans defense has a notable lack of star power, but packs enough of a balanced punch to be successful in 2012.

    The defensive tackle position is a weakness, but there are few glaring or overwhelming holes in the unit.

    Jason McCourty is the catalyst of the defense and an underrated cornerback while defensive tackle Karl Klug amassed a quiet seven sacks last season.

    Again this is not the most exciting defense in the league, but it is capable of performing well.

Washington Redskins

32 of 32

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Defensive Starters:

    • Jarvis Jenkins, Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, Ryan Kerrigan, London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Brian Orakpo, DeAngelo Hall, Brandon Merriweather, Tanard Jackson, Josh Wilson

    Biggest Strength: Linebacker

    Biggest Weakness: Defensive End

    2012 Outlook: Adding Barry Cofield in the offseason was a huge move for the Washington Redskins and will finally give the 3-4 defense the nose tackle that Albert Haynesworth never lived up to being.

    This unit is middle of the road in terms of quality and production, but there are solid pieces in place.

    London Fletcher is still a tackle machine while Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo are both emerging superstars.