The NFL offseason.
Bored yet? I know I am.
In 2009, we saw a highlight reel of epic defensive plays from all 32 teams. Whether it was exciting interceptions that ultimately decided the fate of the Super Bowl, or bone crunching hits on the old timer Kurt Warner in the NFC Divisional round of the playoffs, defensive battles were an ongoing battle last season, and it's safe to say that in 2010 the pressure is not going to let up.
However, before we can look toward an eagerly awaited 2010 regular season, we must reflect on the brilliance we witnessed last season. Yes, many teams had their fair share of defensive moments that captivated the NFL world, but when you think about defensive oriented teams, two come to mind.
Three years ago, this article would be irrelevant. The Green Bay Packers had a developing defense that was coming along nicely, but the New York Jets on the other hand were struggling to even muster up a high number of defensive stops.
Now though, both teams have taken the number one and number two spots last season for overall defense, it has become a task for many NFL fans to decipher just who has the better defense.
On one hand, you have Dom Capers newly appointed 3-4 defense, that is working wonders for the Green Bay Packers. While on the other, you have the New York Jets' prolific backfield that is now featuring the highly talented Antonio Cromartie.
But who should take the top spot? It's hard to say, but hopefully the following points clear it up a little, and offer you with a stronger opinion at the end.
The Green Bay Packers
Defensive Notables: Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Clay Matthews, Atari Bigby
2009 Defensive Ranking: 2nd
In 2009, the Green Bay Packers were arguably the elite team on defense. Noone really expected it heading into the regular season, but with Green Bay's opening woes on the offensive line, suddenly their strong defense became the talking point.
More importantly, Defensive Player of the Year award winner Charles Woodson had a fantastic season with 9 interceptions, and to cap it all off Clay Matthews developed into a sacking machine come the later half of the season.
One thing that Green Bay have to their advantage is depth. A great mix of the young and the old provide Green Bay with the ability to mix and match when necessary, and to also educate the younger guys on what it takes to make a name for themselves in the league.
Aside from the main names that come out of Green Bay, it is also the less recognized guys that make up for the Packers solid defensive roster. Al Harris seems to have gone forgotten lately due to a devastating injury that is still proving to be a pain in the behind this offseason, and quiet player Atari Bigby often goes unnoticed due to Charles Woodson's sole presence.
Therefore, it is important to look at the Packers as a unit, rather than just a select bunch of individual players that have talent. The Green Bay Packers is more or less like the Chicago Bears of the 1980's, except maybe a little less intense. They are together, they are a family, and they know when to make big plays happen.
Take last season for example, Green Bay vs. Dallas. A crucial game that was always set to be hostile at the Frozen Tundra, Green Bay needed a win to boost their season onto the right track, and to provide them with a glimmer of hope toward a playoff type season.
Did they deliver? Of course they did. Charles Woodson came up with a crucial sack on quarterback Tony Romo, and the rest is history. Win after win following the Dallas game, and a Wildcard spot to face the Arizona Cardinals.
Does that sounds like a team that just gets lucky and relies on one guy? Well maybe, but to me it sounds like a team that has it together, and part of the credit goes to the ability of Dom Capers.
4-3 to 3-4, Green Bay's new attitude and new look is promising. With no defensive needs in the Draft except for a possible cornerback signing, the Packers are possibly the most solid and stable defensive team in the league.
The New York Jets
Defensive Notables: Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Lito Sheppard, Dwight Lowery
2009 Defensive Ranking: 1st
Well, where to start. The New York Jets can be described in one very and simple word, impressive.
Last season, New York struggled in the opening weeks. Not so much on defense, but on offense. Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez was beginning to look like another draft bust for New York, but luckily things changed.
On the defensive side of the ball, things were solid. Darrelle Revis is the obvious man about town, and his catchy "Revis' Island" slogan had the whole NFL in a frenzy come playoff time.
However, when I look at New York I still see a very young team. Give Rex Ryan all the credit you want, the Jets are a team full of inexperienced players who just happen to have enough talent to push them over the edge of greatness.
With that said, it doesn't take away from just how great a player Darrelle Revis is, and given his 6 interceptions last season, he was hot on the heals of Charles Woodson from the get go.
Aside from Darrelle though, I fail to see any other real talent on New York except for maybe safety Jim Leonhard or fellow cornerback Dwight Lowery. The simple fact with New York is, they are a question team, and with the Antonio Cromartie signing still fresh in peoples mind, it only further proves my theory.
If Cromartie is to fail somehow, I do see New York being labelled as questionable of defense. Yes they have Darrelle Revis, but there is only one man can do, and given that he is still only a young guy, it would only take a small injury or slump to send him in the wrong direction.
Before Jets fans get ready to leave me a nasty comment, I'm in no way criticising the Jets defense, believe me Darrelle Revis' foot interception against the Chargers last season had me as surprised as the next guy, but the Jets still need some depth at cornerback, and a linebacker or two that can be an AJ Hawk or Clay Matthews.
Simple things to fix, and given the Jets have money, but they need to fix those things if they are to compete with Green Bay and Baltimore next season for the top defensive spot.
After summing both teams up, the Green Bay Packers are winners. Like I mentioned, they are a complete team and just know how to get the job done. Besides that, they are consistent in almost every game, and when you have the experience factor on your side, that says a lot.
New York are on the rise, and until they put together a full sixteen game season worth of highlights from more than one or two players, it will be tough to say that they can outdo the Packers defensively.
With that said, to win the top spot defensively, all that matters is stats, even though talent does count for a lot. It is also worth mentioning here that the Baltimore Ravens are in contention for this title, and if their defense holds up next season like it always has, they could easily knock both Green Bay and New York right out of contention.
Right now though, Green Bay are the defensive team to beat despite what the stat sheet says. Great players and almost automatic interceptions, passing games are constantly under threat when Green Bay comes on the field.
Can they do it again in 2010? Sure, and with Al Harris back it only further widens Green Bay's chances. Don't bank on it, but the Packers are on a collision course full of picks and sacks toward the top spot in the NFL.
Side Note: The idea of this article comes from recognizable Green Bay Packers Community user y5nthon5a, who provided me with sole theory behind this piece.
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