So, in following up with the top NFL defenses poll, I want to highlight what undoubtedly is my favorite part of the football game. Big, daunting defensive tackles, swift linebackers and lean and mean cornerbacks and safeties – bring on a hard hitting game of football and it’s always a great game.
Great defenses negate the running game, they pressure the QB and crush the pocket and make big plays all over the field. How can you beat that? While a pretty QB gets a ton of props for long-passes *cough Brady cough* and flashy wideouts are constantly heralded as the stars *cough TO cough* it’s the rough and tumble defensive lineman and fast and furios secondaries who make my Sunday (and Monday nights and occasional Thursday) every single week.
The NFL Channel ranked defenses historically as follows:
10. Purple People Eaters – Minnesota Vikings
9. Â Dallas Cowboys Doomsday Defense
8. The 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7. Ravens circa 2000
6. New York Giants during the 1950′s
5. Atlanta Falcons “grits blitz”
4. 1969 Kansas City Chiefs
3. Lombardi’s Packers
2. 1985 Chicago Bears
1. Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain
As a Steelers fan, I am certainly not going to argue the Steelers spot at #1. Â During this time, they won 4 Super Bowls and literally frightened opponents. I can’t imagine not being scared of lining up across from Jack Lambert, the man had no front teeth clearly he wasn’t scared of much. Â The entire defense- from the secondary to the line to the linebackers, just plain nasty.
So, I agree with the list overall though I think I do agree with @tailgate365 that I would rank the 2000 Ravens above the Falcons. Looks like everyone who picked past defenses included everyone who was mentioned.
Now, on to the next season…this is harder than I expected it to be, but here are my picks:
10. Vikings. I think the Vikings defense has been slightly underrated – they will be more consistent this year and have drafted effectively Â in the offseason creating some depth and bringing in some vets to cover gaps. If their front four can keep pressure on the QB, they will be a great defensive team with versatility. (take note Steelers, play hard ALL games!!)
9. Â Colts. Even with a new defensive coordinator, the Colts still have veterans at the helm and will likely run the same style defense. There will be growing pains with new coaches all around, but their D will remain strong.
8. Dolphins. Joey Porter has always been one of my favorites (‘cept for his mouth). He’s nasty. There also weren’t a lot of changes in the off-season. I expect them to have a decent season defensively.
7. Â Jets. With the addition of Bart Scott and of course, Rex Ryan – the Jets will have a decent defense. They weren’t terrible last year though it will take a Â year or two to get this team to act as a TEAM, they will likely soon become a defensive force.
6. Titans. Losing Haynesworth creates a gap, but overall, the Titans will return strong defensively.
5. Eagles. I don’t even really have much to say about the Iggles. They kicked some butt last year in the NFC, ultimately losing in the playoffs to the Cardinals, their defense helped them get them as far as they got. They’ll be a defensive force again in 2009
4. Redskins. As much as I hate to admit this, their defense wasn’t terrible last year and with Haynesworth coming on board it will add. I still don’t think they will WIN but that’s because it’s still a team of individuals rather than an actual TEAM. I’m guessing that the sales of Haynesworth jerseys ill pay for the obsene amount of money Big Dan spent to get him, however. Brian Orakapo also brings speed and strength to the defense. Look forward to seeing how he adds to the overall mix of players.
3. Giants. With a healthy Osi Umenyiora the Giants defense will be more stable. Justin Tuck is always a force and reports say Antonio Pierce is in the best shape of his career. I think the Giants will again be a force.
2. Ravens. Hell, I am scared of Gnata, I will admit it. This is a passionate defense led by Ray Ray. And Ed Reed is beast in the secondary picking balls straight outta the air and don’t let a loose ball anywhere near him. Other than the Â loss of to the Jets, I think the Ravens will remain one of the top defenses in the League. Can’t. Wait. To. Kick. Some. Purple. Bird. Ass. Yeah, I said it, but it’s my blog, I can
1. Steelers. With virtunally nothing on the defense changing – they still will be number one. Losing Foote to the Lions is the only starter role that’s lost, yet Timmons was already subbing in last year on specific downs so should not affect the play. There’s depth on corner and with a healthy Troy the secondary will be outstanding – and likely once again underrated. With Woodley and Deebo coming off the edges, I foresee another sack fest for opposing QBs. I love my team, and I love watching the defense do what it does. All hail the great Dick LeBeau.
I can’t tell you how many times I rearranged this order…the last 5 were pretty difficult to predict. But I am sticking with this order. Agreeing with @DYMilkshake, it’s hard to rate the Vikings with both Williams out for four games each but with them, they are a good, solid D.
I didnt include the Pats though Johnny_S over at Behind The Steel Curtain did – my reasoning is that while they have a strong front with 3 veterans, they have weaknesses both in the linebacker corps and their secondary. The Pats strength has been offensive scoring, despite Belichick’s strength in defense. I just don’t see them in the top 10 going into 2009.
The one team I went back and forth about including and probably should knock the Vikings out to include are the Cowboys. Demarcus Ware is a beast and will always be a beast. I’m wavering now as I type this, but I am going to leave as is and we can talk about it later in the season. Â I might kick myself.
Steelroots86 also over at Behind The Steel Curtain also had San Diego Chargers on his list. Â I don’t think Cromartie can reach his 2007 level and I think there are gaps which is why I didn’t include them. Â However, before training camp and pre-season, it’s hard to predict how these teams will untimately gel.
One thing is for certain, I’ll continue to love and hate the Steelers-Ravens match ups, sit on the floor rocking and biting my nails during the ALWAYS nasty defensive games of the year. This year, there might be a few surprises and I look forward to the debate moving forward.
Open for comments as always.