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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Does Suh addition give Los Angeles the best defense in the NFL?

By Matthew Coller

On Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles Rams dropped a bombshell on the NFL by signing star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

The Rams already ranked as the sixth best defense last year by Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric and ninth in Football Reference’s Expected Points. It would stand to reason that the additions of Suh, Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters would bump L.A. to the No. 1 spot in 2018, but they are hardly the only stacked defense in the NFL.

Not that we can leave out linebackers entirely, but the league’s best defenses dominate on the defensive line and in the secondary. So let’s compare the best D-lines and secondaries

Defensive line


1) Philadelphia Eagles – Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Haloti Ngata, Derek Barnett (Michael Bennett, Chris Long, Tim Jernigan)

Key stat: Created pressure on 32.5 percent of pass snaps (8th), ranked No. 1 vs. run

Following their Super Bowl victory, the Eagles were forced to let Beau Allen and Vinny Curry walk in free agency due to salary cap restraints, but they found a way to restock by signing Haloti Ngata and via a trade with the Seahawks to acquire Michael Bennett. Philadelphia will continue to have a fantastic rotation that could see more playing time for 2017 first-round pick Derek Barnett.

With an elite player at defensive tackle and quality edge rushers mixing in and out, the Eagles still have the best D-line in the league.


2) Jacksonville Jaguars – Calias Campbell, Malik Jackson, Marcell Dareus, Yannick Ngakoue, Dante Fowler

Key stat: No. 2 in the NFL with 55 sacks

Whether the Jaguars are the best defensive line in the NFL or not depends on Marcela Dareus. He worked in as an effective rotational DT last year after being traded from the Buffalo Bills, but at his best the former No. 3 overall pick can be one of the elite players at his position. Over the first four years of his career, Dareus averaged 7.0 sacks per year and stuffed the run with the best. Add that to a D-line with an MVP candidate in Campbell (14.5 sacks in 2017), Ngakoue (12.0 sacks) and Jackson (8.0 sacks) and a terrific rotational rusher in Fowler (8.0 sacks) and you have an impossible group to handle.


3) Minnesota Vikings – Everson Griffen, Sheldon Richardson, Linval Joseph, Danielle Hunter

Key stat: 4.6 yards per play allowed, lowest in the NFL

With all due credit to Tom Johnson for the effort he put forth on the league’s best defense in 2017, the Vikings found a way to upgrade on a D-line that was already magnificent by signing Sheldon Richardson. Minnesota might want to rotate more often than in the past, but they don’t really need to do much switching in and out with an every-down player like Richardson. Last year he didn’t pick up many sacks but still dominated inside pressure and stuffed the run. Combining him with two Pro Bowlers and a 23-year-old edge rusher with 19.5 sacks in the last two years should give opposing teams nightmares.


4) Los Angeles Rams – Matt Longacre, Ndamukong Suh, Aaron Donald, Samson Ebukam

Key stat: Donald ranked No. 1 by Pro Football Focus among DTs in 2017, Suh ranked fifth

It’s unclear whether Wade Phillips will stick with a 3-4 defense (which in today’s game is more like 3-3-5) or switch to a 4-3 with Suh and Donald in the middle. Either way, they are two of the most unstoppable players in the NFL. There is no way for a team to effectively slow them down for 60 minutes, no matter how good the offensive line. The only weakness that puts them behind the Vikings and Eagles is the lack of an elite edge rusher.


5) Los Angeles Chargers – Joey Bosa, Corey Liuget, Darius Philon, Melvin Ingram

Key stat: Boss and Ingram combined for 23 sacks

While the middle of the Chargers’ D-line doesn’t compare to the Eagles, Jags, Vikings and Rams, they have two of the absolute best defensive ends in the NFL. Bosa, 22, has 22.5 sacks in his first two seasons and Ingram averages 10 over the last three years. In 2017, Pro Football Focus ranked Bosa the sixth best edge rusher in the league and Ingram seventh. Liuget was solid in the pass rush, ranking 15th by PFF grades.



1) Los Angeles Rams – Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, LeMarcus Joyner, John Johnson, Nickell Robey-Coleman

Key stat: Peters has 19 INTs in three years

L.A. already had a solid secondary before adding two Pro Bowl corners. Pro Football Focus ranked Talib the 15th best corner in the league and Peters 17th. They join two of the league’s most underrated players in Joyner and Robey-Coleman. PFF rated Joayner, who had three INTs and nine passes defended in 2017, as the third best safety in the NFL. Robey-Coleman effectively filled the slot corner role, ranking as the 19th best corner by PFF. Johnson was the 15th best safety. It’s hard to beat a team with five top-20 rated players at their position.


2) Minnesota Vikings – Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo

Key stat: 6.0 yards per attempt allowed, No. 1 in the NFL

What Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith accomplished in 2017 is nothing short of incredible. Rhodes shut down top receivers Michael Thomas, Antonio Brown, Mike Evans and AJ Green while Smith had an MVP-caliber season and ranked as PFF’s No. 1 overall player. Both Waynes and Sendejo had strong seasons. Opposing teams’ No. 2 wide receivers only gained 49.1 yards per game against the Vikings (5th in the NFL) and Sendejo ranked 11th by PFF. The Vikings currently are missing a slot corner and it doesn’t appear they will turn the job over to Mackensie Alexander.


3) Jacksonville Jaguars – Jalen Ramsey, AJ Bouye, Barry Church, Tashaun Gibson

Key stat: 68.5 quarterback rating allowed

The Jags lost their talented slot corner Aaron Colvin in free agency, but they still have two of the elite shutdown corners in the league. Ramsey is making a case for being the No. 1 shutdown corner, while Bouye was signed to a five-year, $67.5 million contract for good reason. Church and Gibson are solid players, but they do not match up to Joyner or Smith’s prowess.


4) Los Angeles Chargers – Casey Heyward, Trevor Williams, Desmond King, Jahleel Addae

Key stat: Had more interceptions than touchdowns allowed

Heyward ranked as the No. 1 corner in the NFL last year by PFF and his teammates weren’t far behind. Williams and King ranked 10th and 14th respectively. Current free agent Tre Boston was key to the Chargers playing the center field role. If San Diego replaces him with a solid player or brings him back, they will remain in the conversation for best defensive backfield in the league.


5) New Orleans Saints – Marshon Lattimore, Patrick Robinson, Ken Crawley, Marcus Williams, Vonn Bell

Key stat: Lattimore ranked as the fourth best corner in the NFL

As a rookie, Lattimore made a massive impact on the Saints’ defense, which was solid for the first time in a long time in New Orleans. While he and Marcus Williams were difference makers right away, the Saints elected to add Robinson to the mix. He was one of the NFL’s best slot corners, ranking sixth overall by PFF. The Saints don’t have a lockdown No. 2 corner, but they are otherwise very strong in the secondary.


While the Eagles’ defense deserves a lot of credit for dominating the Falcons and Vikings in the playoffs and stacking up one of the deepest, most impressive D-lines in the league, losing Robinson will hurt their status as an overall top defense. Philadelphia’s secondary is now just solid rather than spectacular. The Rams, Vikings and Jaguars have the most complete and impressive defensive lines and secondaries, assuming Minnesota and Jacksonville replace the slot corners. The Chargers are right in the mix for best overall defense. We didn’t dig into linebackers but the Rams, Jags and Vikings are clearly ahead of the Chargers in that area.

With the best secondary and two of the top five DTs, it’s hard to ignore the Rams as the No. 1 defense. But they can’t be considered the runaway top team without a top edge rusher. Maybe the draft will change that?


1) Rams

2) Vikings

3) Jaguars

4) Chargers

5) Eagles

SLEEPER: Chicago Bears

It was easy to ignore the struggling Bears last season, but they have two terrific safeties in Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson to go along with three cornerbacks rated in the top 45 and an elite defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. Keep an eye on Chicago’s defense next season, especially if the offense gives them some rest.

The post Does Suh addition give Los Angeles the best defense in the NFL? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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