This offseason, Denver made two under-the-radar signings to bolster its defense. The Broncos have one of the NFL’s best pass rushes with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb coming off the edges and did not register a sack all night. Still, injuries and inconsistency give reasons to hedge bets. So now you might be wondering why I have the Titans so low. In 2018, opposing offenses converted only 37.5 percent of those crucial scenarios against the Patriots, which ranked second in the league behind the Jaguars. The linebacker corps has a mix of veteran experience and developing talent that flashed in stretches last year. As the primary slot cornerback, 23-year-old Kenny Moore led the team in interceptions (three) and pass breakups (11). 10. The group needs a ball hawk in the secondary. The coaching staff has to figure out who starts next to Collins at safety and develop 2017 third-rounder Fabian Moreau into a consistent contributor, whether it's in the slot or on the perimeter. Head coach Adam Gase added defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has to figure out how to optimize the talent in the front seven around Donald. The explosive edge-rusher finished his senior season at Kentucky with 17 sacks. Two of Mayfield’s three interceptions came against the concept, including his first, which was the beginning of the end for Cleveland…. In March, he acquired defensive end Olivier Vernon and a fourth-rounder for guard Kevin Zeitler and a fifth-round pick. The Bills have two linebackers who play well in space. In their first game since @RobGronkowski's retirement, the @Patriots used 20 personnel (2 RB, 0 TE, 3 WR) on 23 plays tonight. Defensive ends Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith will immediately improve the pass rush. Going forward, elite veteran talent, rookie potential and depth separate many of these groups from the rest. Select Page. Defensive tackle Taven Bryan, the team's 2018 first-rounder, could see an uptick in snaps as a result. 26. Defensive end Cameron Heyward has been a consistent threat on the interior for most of his career, but he's cranked the pressure up as of late, logging 20 sacks over the past two seasons. Nose tackle Javon Hargrave also added 6.5 sacks last year. The rest of the teams are just here to keep them busy. The Jaguars fall outside the top five because of a question mark at free safety following Gipson's departure. Offensive coordinators may hesitate to test the secondary, but Baltimore should watch out for opponents that challenge the team's front seven with the ground attack early and often. This week’s ranking is very much influenced by my preseason perception of these teams. For that reason, it isn’t surprising to the Raiders defense rank in the bottom half of the NFL. Kyler Fackrell, the team's 2018 sack leader, may see one-on-one opportunities on the edge as well. The NFC is well represented, and, really, any of the teams ranked fourth through seventh could be flipped. The Raiders signed defensive tackle Maliek Collins, linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, cornerback Prince Amukamara, safety Damarious Randall and rotational defensive end Carl Nassib. The Michigan product can provide the speed and coverage the defense lacks with Ryan Shazier still recovering from a spinal injury. Edge-rusher Ryan Kerrigan led the group with 13. The 2017 third-rounder notched a team-high four interceptions in his sophomore term. The Bears have two emerging stars in the secondary: cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson. Select Page. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson are solid interior pieces. While the Vikings have a budding star in Hunter on the edge, the Pittsburgh Steelers can attack the pocket from a variety of angles with high-level players. 119. Defensive lineman Rashan Gary will likely take the field on passing downs to pressure the pocket, while Darnell Savage could start alongside Amos. Several factors went into the listing. Alongside All-Pro safety Harrison Smith, four-year veteran Anthony Harris emerged as a playmaker, logging six pass breakups and three interceptions in 2018. Aside from cornerback Richard Sherman, who's going into his age-31 season, the secondary needs consistency at just about every other position. All rights reserved. Last year, seven of the top 10 scoring defenses clinched playoff berths. Jared Goff? There's a shining star and multiple ascending playmakers on that side of the ball. NFL footage © NFL Productions LLC. The New Orleans Saints have two high-caliber defenders ready to suit up for Week 1: defensive end Cameron Jordan and cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Denico Autry had a few decent seasons with the Raiders from 2015 to 2017, but his sack production skyrocketed in Indianapolis with a team-high nine. The former has two eight-sack seasons on his resume, while the latter recorded 8.5 last year in a rotational role with the Ravens. Safety Landon Collins inked a six-year, $84 million deal with the Washington Redskins. The Patriots acquired defensive end Michael Bennett from the Eagles to bolster their pocket pressure. Dallas' inability to force interceptions knocks this unit down a few notches. None of them played more than 61 percent of the defensive snaps in 2018. Both can penetrate the interior gaps. The Jaguars aren’t tanking. Cornerback Darius Slay continued to perform at an elite level. Cornerback Josh Norman hasn't performed at an elite level since 2016, but he's still a solid component to the pass defense. The versatile safety should patch up coverage on tight ends and chase down pass-catching ball-carriers. They also used a first-round pick on corner Damon Arnette. Eric Weddle is also approaching his career sunset. Sam Hubbard and Carl Lawson, who suffered a torn ACL last September, will keep the pass rush fresh in rotation. Baltimore needs solid play from its front line to ease the edge-rushers' jobs on the outside. Last year, Minnesota tied Chicago in sacks with 50, the league's third-best total. When this group needs a stop on the fourth down, it's able to force a turnover. As a whole, the team ranked 11th in the category. He led the league in solo tackles (111), ranked second on the team in sacks with seven, broke up eight passes and logged two interceptions in an All-Pro season. They have to figure out how to utilize the versatile talent in the secondary. Based on those acquisitions alone, the 49ers run defense and pass rush should show vast improvement. Getting throttled by this Chiefs offense isn’t the most embarrassing thing, but the coverage busts that plagued this talented defense a year ago popped up once again on Sunday. The Cowboys' depth at cornerback allows them to mix and match assignments week to week. Finally, Quinn has to carve out a role for safety Damontae Kazee, who snagged seven interceptions last year. On the back end, the Bills have versatility and defenders with sticky hands. Behind the aggressive defensive line, linebackers Telvin Smith and Myles Jack cover ground and space in passing situations. While the 29-year-old didn't have an interception in 2018, his 20 career interceptions suggest he should bounce back this season. Subscribe to our Free Newsletter, This Month in Sports ReferenceFind out when we add a feature or make a change. One of them will play opposite 35-year-old Johnathan Joseph—an average starter. They should be talented enough to vault into the middle tier of defenses in 2020. The former tied with Kyle Fuller and Damontae Kazee for a league-leading seven interceptions in 2018. Although picks can be a bit fluky, the Cowboys haven't logged more than 10 interceptions in a single season over the last four years.
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