NFL Rankings: Who Has the Best Defense on Paper?
The NFL Lockout has not ended and likely won't for at least the next week or two. There has been no activity in the past 108 days, but once the new CBA is complete, there will be a flurry of activity.
While notable guys on offense like Peyton Manning are free agents, it is unlikely that the big names will change teams. Judging from years past, it is normally the defensive players that sign with a new team. This year's most sought after free agent player on defense is Nnamdi Asomugha. If he decides to leave Oakland, it could shake up this list.
Looking at the rosters as they are set right now, I am assuming that every free agent is going to re-sign with their previous team. Obviously that won't happen, but it is impossible to know which ones will leave and which ones will stay.
There are some great young defenses out there that came up just short of this list. Teams like Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Kansas City, and the New York Giants could all make the top ten, but this list is more exclusive.
Honorable Mention: Minnesota Vikings
With questions surrounding the quarterback position on offense, this team is going to have to really lean on their defense this year. Sure Adrian Peterson is probably the best running back in the league, but when the box is loaded, it is going to be even tougher for this team to move the ball.
The defensive line has the ability to be the best in the league. With both Williams' on the inside and Jared Allen and Ray Edwards on the ends, there is no reason they can't return to their 2009 form.
Chad Greenway's return and a healthy Henderson at linebacker will be the key for the defense. They are solid in the secondary with Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin, Lito Sheppard, and Asher Allen.
5. Chicago Bears
The Bears have always been a defensive team, and that hasn't changed since they acquired Jay Cutler's rocket arm at the quarterback position. Last year's addition of Julius Peppers was a big one, as he served notice that he is still a guy that teams have to game plan for.
With a healthy combination of Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher, this team will always have a chance against any offense. Last year they allowed just under 18 points per game on defense, which was the fourth best in the league.
Their secondary needs some whipping into shape, though, as they were penalized 93 times last season, most of which came from pass interference calls.
4. San Francisco 49ers
This defensive unit has been building and building over the past few years, and I think this is the year that it all comes together.
It all starts with the man in the middle, Patrick Willis, who is arguably the best linebacker in the game today. Their secondary continues to improve with young guys like Taylor Mays and Dashon Goldson. They are still going to need the veteran leadership of Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer.
Justin Smith and Parys Haralson are going to have to become a more threatening duo, while Aubrayo Frankline and Isaac Sopoaga continue to fill it up in the middle. Manny Lawson is going to have to be more consistent, and it remains to be seen how much Takeo Spikes has left in the tank
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
No surprises here.
The Steelers are always one of the three best defensive teams in the league, and that won't change this year. Having a healthy set of bodies on defense is a must, and they must improve at the corner positions. Obviously, they are set at Safety and with the elite trio of linebackers.
Last year they were the only team in the league to give up less than 15 points per game. They were second best in yards per game as well, just behind the San Diego Chargers.
If they can strengthen either or both of their corner positions, they will really have no weaknesses at all.
2. Green Bay Packers
A lot of the credit of the Super Bowl Champions went to Aaron Rodgers and the offense. While they were undoubtedly one of the best in the league, it was the defense that really fueled them. They didn't give up many yards, due in large part to their disciplined secondary unit, which is one of the best in the NFL.
Green Bay didn't give up many "big plays" on defense, and they were able to keep the opposition out of the red zone for the most part. They only allowed 15 points per game as a defense last year, which was just a hair behind the Steelers for best in the league.
If Charles Woodson is able to keep playing at a high level despite being a year older, this defense could become elite for many years to come.
1. New York Jets
Many of you probably saw this one coming.
I do think the whole Rex Ryan defensive mentality thing is a little over played, but you have to give them credit; the stats do not lie. Last year they gave up just 19 points per game, were third best in the league in yards allowed per game, and they were the least penalized team in the NFL.
Obviously, they have a star player at corner with Darrelle Revis. Having Antonio Cromartie on the other side really makes things difficult for the opposing quarterbacks and receivers. The rest of the secondary isn't on the same level, but they are very deep, so injuries aren't as devastating to them.
They could always improve their defensive line, but it isn't weak by any means. Speaking of not being weak, you have to love the intensity of the linebackers like Bart Scott and David Harris.
This defense will continue to get better with Rex Ryan putting his heart and soul into it. Just imagine if he is able to land his next piece, Nnamdi Asomugha.