There are a lot of tough defenses in the NFL. Seattle shut down the prolific Broncos offense in the Super Bowl and dominated offense all year long. But that’s not to say there aren’t more elite defenses to score against, and does Seattle really boast the all-around best defensive squad?
The writers at Locker Room Update give their take on what defense is primed to be the best unit in 2014. Offense, step aside.
Ayron Beavers: The San Francisco 49ers have one of the most impressive secondaries in the league. Pending Bowman’s return after a potential career-ending knee injury, their LB core and D-Line have more than enough talent and potential to be best in the NFL.
Alex Peterman: There’s a good deal of teams that, when healthy, have put themselves in a position to claim the title of best defense in 2014. And what it comes down to is that while I’ll take Cincinnati’s depth over any team in the NFL, I have a hard time straying from selecting the Seattle Seahawks as the best group of starters in the league.
The most outspoken player on the Seahawks, and arguably the most talented at his position, is Richard Sherman. The young cornerback leads a secondary for the Legion of Boom that had no problem shutting down the Peyton-led Broncos in the Super Bowl, following a mind-blowing year for the team’s defensive standing. However, Sherman is only the beginning of the standout players. Even if they don’t chat as much on social media, NFL pros Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, and lesser-known players like Bobby Wagner lead a defense that hasn’t revealed a weakness yet.
Christa Levitas: After winning the Super Bowl against the Broncos, the Seattle Seahawks proved that defense does win championships. Being able to pressure the quarterback is one of the most crucial qualities to have in a dominant defense. When you think of an elite defense, you think of physical, athletic, tough players. The Seahawks are still an elite defense. Some other notable defenses to look out for in 2014 are the 49ers, Panthers, and the Bengals.
The 49ers defense consists of players such as Admad Brooks and Aldon Smith (who is now currently suspended), both of whom are great at pass rushing and putting pressure on the quarterback. Another impact player is their first round draft pick in 2013, their safety Eric Reid. According to NFL statistics, Reid finished his rookie year with 77 tackles and 4 interceptions. He finished his season with an outstanding record, making him an ideal candidate for the Pro Bowl. This proves that he will only get better. The 49ers also drafted safety Jimmie Ward in the first round during this year’s draft, which is expected to make an immediate impact for the 49ers.
The Panthers defense, like the 49ers defense, consists of physical and tough players. Thsi defense was capable of putting pressure on the quarterback by being the defense that had the most sacks. The Panthers defense was ranked the 2nd best in the NFL last year. THis defense has talented linebackers such as Luke Kuechly, who, according to NFL statistics, has had 320 tackles and 6 interceptions since he was drafted in 2012. Not only has he been inducted into the Pro Bowl, but he has also won numerous awards since he started his career in the NFL. Star Lotulelei, who was drafted by the panthers in 2013, should make an immediate impact this season. According to NFL statistics, he has already had 42 tackles and 3 quarterback sacks.
Another notable defense to look out for in 2014 is the Bengals, who are also composed of physical, athletic players. One notable player on the Bengals defense is Geno Atkins, who has been a great pass rusher for the Bengals defense. According to his career statistics on NFL statistics, he had 136 tackles and 6 forced fumbles for the Bengals. Cincinnati recently drafted cornerback Darqueze Dennard with their 1st round draft pick, who plays man to man coverage. He should make an immediate impact and help this team.
Ryan Gopen: The New York Jets are known for having a ‘violent’ style of defense. To play for Rex Ryan, you have to have a certain scheme in your play. The Jets were the second best run stop defense last year. It’s not the same on the passing as the Jets struggled tremendous last year in the passing side of the defense. Hopefully Calvin Pryor straightens that up for the Jets.With an improved roster in the secondary, and a strengthened core up front, the Jets should boast one of the most talented overall defenses in 2014.
Robert Melofchik: I favor defense over offense and do not like the rule changes. Good football is won without flags on plays and I wish the NFL would let players play. That being said, a great defense can beat a great offense any day. I’m going do this round table a little different and not pick a team, for good reason. Defenses are made through out the season. Defenses have three levels and when they work together, it’s a thing of beauty. The first level is the defense line winning the battle in the trenches. That will stop the running game and create a pass rush. The second level is the linebackers – the inside linebackers have to be fast in the new NFL, so they can cover pass and run. The outside linebackers with defense ends have to set the edge with a strong pass rush. By setting the edge and rushing the quarterback, it forces the quarterback to move up to the teeth of the defense line. The third level is the secondary. If the first two levels create a pass rush, the secondary will have a chance at getting a turnover. The team that can have all three level working together will beat any high powered offense just like we saw this past Super Bowl.