BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING
There is a Saying in the NFL that Defense Wins Championships.
Through the years, I've been intrigued about how the high-powered offenses would handle the strong defenses.
Are defenses judged by specific players or by the units themselves?
Now that we're at the half way point of the 2014 NFL Season, this is a great opportunity to see which defenses keep their teams in contention as we approach the playoffs.
The following numbers could be great indicators as to what to expect in the months of November, December, January and determine the teams which will be playing in the Super Bowl in Glendale, AZ come February.
Lets begin with Total Points. The Detroit Lions have allowed the least with 126 followed by the Kansas City Chiefs (128), the Baltimore Ravens (131) and the Arizona Cardinals (139).
Next, we move onto Total Yards. The San Francisco 49'ers are on top with 2,142 followed by Kansas City at 2,160, Denver with 2,207. The defending Super Bowl Champions Seattle Seahawks are fourth with 2,213, the Miami Dolphins are fifth with 2,259 while the Lions are sixth with 2,323.
Kansas City is No.1 with 1,370 Passing Yards allowed followed by Miami's 1,481, San Francisco 1,548 and Seattle is fourth with 1,586. Detroit is ranked 10th with 1,731.
The Denver Broncos have allowed the least amount of Rushing Yards with 507, Arizona is next with 545, Detroit is third with 592 and San Francisco is fourth with 594.
The Detroit Lions are in the Top 10 in all four of these categories.
Can Detroit sustain this success with the recent defensive losses of Stephen Tulloch and Nick Fairley?
This remains to be seen.
If you look at legendary defensive units, here are some that stand out that either won or played in Super Bowls.
The Pittsburgh Steelers "Steel Curtain" produced four Super Bowl Championships.
Miami's "No Name" defense led to a pair of titles in the early 1970's including the lone 17-0 undefeated season in NFL History.
"The Monsters of The Midway" made Chicago proud as the Bears mauled their way to a 1985 World Championship.
"The Doomsday Defense" of the Dallas Cowboys were a group that became a dynasty in the late 1960's and 1970's, that produced championships in The Lone Star State.
Despite not winning a Super Bowl in the late 1960's and 1970's, The Minnesota Vikings "Purple People Eaters" used this unit to reach the title game four times.
Who can forget the "Orange Crush Defense" of the Denver Broncos of the late 1970's and early 1980's which also made a Super Bowl Appearance?
Now that we've looked at Great Defensive Units, it's time to take this a step further.
How many players from the past could play at high levels in today's NFL with the numerous rule changes aimed at keeping the game safer?
Due to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the days of two and three practices during training camp in one day are long gone.
Concussions are a big issue therefore rules of hitting players high especially with helmet to helmet contact are being called and in some cases players are being ejected and even suspended.
We'll really never know how the players of the past would play in Today's NFL.
When My Girlfriend entered a Fantasy Football League, she had to pick a defensive player and sought My Opinion.
If the guy gets one or two points that could be the difference as to who wins that week.
Now I'm going to mention several names of players that I think could play in Any Era.
Later on, I'll add some of the best defensive players in the NFL Today.
The numerical order I'm about to provide is not in rank, but as players came to mind when I wrote them down as I tried to go back to some of the legendary defenses which I mentioned earlier in this story.
We'll Start With The Past:
1. Dick Butkus (Chicago Bears)
2. Lawrence Taylor (New York Giants)
3. "Mean" Joe Greene (Pittsburgh Steelers)
4. Jack Youngblood (LA Rams)
5. Herb Adderley (Green Bay Packers)
6. Willie Davis (Green Bay Packers)
7. Willie Brown (Oakland Raiders)
8. Bobby Bell (Kansas City Chiefs)
9. Willie Lanier (Kansas City Chiefs)
10. Lem Barney (Detroit Lions)
11. Wayne Walker (Detroit Lions)
12. Dick "Night Train" Lane (Detroit Lions)
13. Alan Page (Minnesota Vikings)
14. Carl Eller (Mnnesota Vikings)
15. Nick Buoniconti (Miami Dolphins)
16. L.C. Greenwood (Pittsburgh Steelers)
17. Mel Blount (Pittsburgh Steelers)
18. Jack Lambert (Pittsburgh Steelers)
19. Dwight White (Pittsburgh Steelers)
20. Ernie Holmes (Pittsburgh Steelers)
21. Jack Ham (Pittsburgh Steelers)
22. Bruce Smith (Buffalo Bills)
23. Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens)
24. Michael Strahan (New York Giants)
25. Ronnie Lott (San Francisco 49'ers)
26. Charles Haley (San Francisco 49'ers /Dallas Cowboys)
27. Reggie White (Philadelphia Eagles/Green Bay Packers)
28. Kevin Greene (Pittsburgh Steelers/Carolina Panthers)
29. Jason Taylor (Miami Dolphins)
30. John Randle (Minnesota Vikings)
31. Richard Dent (Chicago Bears)
32. Derrick Thomas (Kansas City Chiefs)
33. Clyde Simmons (Philadelphia Eagles)
34. Simeon Rice (Tampa Bay Bucs)
35. Warren Sapp (Tampa Bay Bucs)
36. LeRoy Selmon (Tampa Bay Bucs)
37. Derrick Brooks (Tampa Bay Bucs)
38. Neil Smith (Kansas City Chiefs)
39. Andre Tippett (New England)
40. Howie Long (Oakland/LA Raiders)
41. Aeneas Williams (Arizona Cardinals)
42. Harvey Martin (Dallas Cowboys)
43. Randy White (Dallas Cowboys)
44. Karl Mecklenburg (Denver Broncos)
45. Junior Seau (San Diego Chargers)
46. Randy Gradishar (Denver Broncos)
47. Tom Jackson (Denver Broncos)
48. Dick LeBeau (Detroit Lions)
49. Bryan Cox (Miami Dolphins)
50. Pat Swilling (New Orleans Saints)
51. Darrell Green (Washington Redskins)
52. LaVar Arrington (Washington Redskins)
53. Wilber Marshall (Chicago Bears/Washington Redskins)
54. Brian Urlacher (Chicago Bears)
55. Mark Gastineau (New York Jets)
56. Dexter Manley (Washington Redskins)
57. Bob Brudzinski (LA Rams/Miami Dolphins)
58. Kim Bokamper (Miami Dolphins)
59. Elvin Bethea (Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans)
60. Joe Klecko (New York Jets)
61. Dave Wilcox (San Francisco 49'ers)
62. Deacon Jones (LA Rams)
63. Merlin Olsen (LA Rams)
64. Jackie Slater (LA Rams)
65. Bubba Smith (Baltimore Colts)
66. Willie McGinest (New England Patriots)
67. Ty Law (New England Patriots)
68. Tedi Bruschi (New England Patriots)
69. Chris Doleman (Minnesota Vikings)
70. Trace Armstrong (Chicago Bears/Miami Dolphins)
71. Leslie O'Neal (San Diego Chargers)
72. Sean Jones (Green Bay Packers)
73. Rickey Jackson (New Orleans Saints/San Francisco 49'ers)
74. Robert Porcher (Detroit Lions)
75. Alex Karras (Detroit Lions)
Now To The Present:
1. J.J Watt (Houston Texans)
2. Mario Williams (Houston Texans/Buffalo Bills)
3. Ndamukong Suh (Detroit Lions)
4. Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers)
5. Julius Peppers (Carolina Panthers/Chicago Bears/Green Bay Packers)
6. Jared Allen (Minnesota Vikings/Chicago Bears)
7. Terrell Suggs (Baltimore Ravens)
8. DeMarcus Ware (Dallas Cowboys/Denver Broncos)
9. Luke Kuechley (Carolina Panthers)
10. Cliff Avril (Detroit Lioms/Seattle Seahawks)
11. Jadeveon Clowney (Houston Texans)
12. Cory Redding (Detroit Lions/Indianapolis Colts)
13. A.J. Hawk (Green Bay Packers)
14. James Harrison (Pittsburgh Steelers)
15. John Abraham (New York Jets/Atlanta Falcoms/Arizona Cardinals)
16. Darrelle Revis (New York Jets/New England Patriots)
17. Dwight Freeney (Indianapolis Colts)
18. Robert Mathis (Indianapolis Colts)
19. Osi Umenyiora (New York Giants/Atlanta Falcons)
20. Jason Pierre Paul (New York Giants)
21. Elvis Dumervil (Denver Broncos/Baltimore Ravens)
22. DeAndre Levy (Detroit Lions)
23. Justin Smith (Cincinnati Bengals/San Francisco 49'ers)
24. Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers)
25. Terence Newman (Dallas Cowboys/Cincinnati Bengals)
The one thing that many of these players had in common is they've caused lots of nightmares for many quarterbacks.
Whether it be that clutch interception or the devastating hit which caused fumbles, season or career ending injuries, these events were a large part of that created many dynasty's.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the 2014 NFL Season unfolds.
Meanwhile, these 100 players will always leave me wondering what would have been, both past and present.
All we have to reference is by watching highlights on the various sports networks today.
There is always ESPN Classic and the NFL Network to relive the Great Defensive Players along with Teams. Then we can formulate our own conclusions
I'm going to end this post with the following questions:
Would you fear Dick Butkus or Lawrence Taylor the most?
I wouldn't want to get on Taylor's bad side, but I'm running as fast as I can from Butkus.
Taylor ended the career of Joe Theismann on a Monday Night game on November 18, 1985.
Would Peyton Manning be able to take the hits and punishment that Butkus gave opponents?
If Peyton wants an answer, he can ask his father Archie, who played with the New Orleans Saints during the same era.
Could you imagine Ndamukong Suh body slamming or stepping on quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw or Dan Marino?
There are so many ways that a mind can wander about these Cross Over Eras.
I've been fortunate enough to witness many through the years.
First as a fan then as a member of the media.
Until the day that I die, I'll never be able to watch enough film to be a Student Of The Game.
Having spoken to lots of players and coaches, this always seems to enlighten me.
But as the year progresses, I'll be monitoring all of the team's statistics and see where they end up in their quest to get to the Super Bowl.
Plus, what defensive players will emerge in My Future Lists?
Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com.
- Scott Morganroth
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