Even an offense that puts up plenty of points can make a defense look worse than what they are. Defenses generally are no good if they can’t slow down offenses on third down, and the same goes for red zone numbers. Inside their 3-4, veteran end Cameron Heyward and rookie inside linebacker Devin Bush are special players, and Joe Haden is still a solid corner. He is the glue for everything Pete Carroll and Ken Norton Jr. want to do as Seattle continues to go through major transition in front of and behind Wagner. Donald takes on even more importance again this year since Ndamukong Suh was not re-signed. Teams that are allowing a lot of rushing attempts could simply just have a bad run defense where opposing teams just decide to pound the rock, or they are constantly losing games. It's a task we're undertaking here at PFF, though. That’s not the case when you’re in the slot, where you’re defending in space pretty much all the time. There should be no transitional pains or drop-off in production, and Flowers will have free pass-rushing reign lining up next to elite run-stuffing tackle Damon Harrison. Once a shutdown unit, the Bills have allowed 28-plus points in five games this year. That — along with the sheer number of talented players at the position — makes ranking the NFL's best safeties a difficult task. Failing to resign certain players was a big part of that, as a GM is going to be in charge of keeping those guys together. Drafting strong defensive players continues to be one of the better ways to keep an already strong defense going. The Falcons will be happy to have middle linebacker Deion Jones and safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen back healthy for Dan Quinn's back seven. 91), Frank Clark, DE, Kansas City Chiefs (No. With points and yards allowed being the big indicator of a defense, you can see who dominates these areas, but also who struggles. And as Richard Sherman once told me in his Seattle days, the thing about playing outside cornerback is that the boundary is your friend. Starting from left to right, we look at the more important stats that can tie everything together. Expectations weren’t absurdly high for Cleveland’s defense on Sunday. 56), Jurrell Casey, DT, Denver Broncos (No. To avoid small sample-size results, each of these defenders played at least 50% of their snaps in the slot. Donald is the highest paid defensive lineman in the NFL. Leonard stuffed the stat sheet with 163 tackles, 7 sacks, 8 passes defended and a pair of interceptions. Sure enough, that’s exactly what Vic Fangio’s group provided. Cox had a career-high 10.5 sacks last season and has become the ideal lineman for Jim Schwartz's 4-3 scheme, which has featured many top players on different teams over the years. Of course we want to face those defenses that allow a lot of red zone opportunity, because the production will follow. Looking at the passing game numbers, you can actually find a lot of good defenses giving up a lot of volume in the pass game. I picked the best of the best out of underrated defensive players. They know what they want for the puzzle they are building, and it gets put together each season. For one, defensive turnover as far as player personnel goes is pretty low. There is a lot of correlation with teams that excel in getting off at third downs. NFL, MLB & college football writer for Sportsnaut. The Patriots have been one of the best defensive teams over the last two decades. It started early with Richard Sherman landing on injured reserve and Nick Bosa suffering a torn ACL. Los Angeles has rediscovered the suffocating defense we saw a few years ago. Because moving the ball through the air is highly correlated with scoring at higher levels, you can see more points because of this. Opponents are averaging 4.6 yards per carry against the Cardinals this season, with the Seattle Seahawks most recently rushing for 165 yards and a score. Drew Lock and the Denver Broncos should be worried. This is the best defense in the NFL. Offenses that jump out to leads and put up big numbers force teams to throw the ball. In Week 11, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts displayed their dominance once more. We could be in for a Sunday afternoon shootout between Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. 34 overall) and Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings (No. Jamal Adams, Seattle Seahawks 23 overall. These Rams made Tom Brady look pretty darn bad during a Week 11 win over the Buccaneers, too. You might want to look at volume as well. He enters his age-30 season rejuvenated, having rediscovered the momentum he utilized early in his Hall of Fame career. Getting off the field of a defense is important for a few reasons. All this is to say that unless you’re the Seahawks, you’d better have some top-level slot defenders if you want to put a credible pass defense out there in a league where offenses are implementing more kinds of receiver sets and route combinations than ever before. Paying those big contracts in general can put a team in a bind. It’s not always about a shutout, which the Carolina Panthers did, as a defense that creates turnovers can be the ultimate difference in the NFL.