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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Team DL rankings: Seattle leads

    [size=18px]Team DL rankings: Seattle leads [/size]

    Michael Harmon /
    Posted: 1 day ago

    Team rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | DL | LB

    My off-season fantasy caravan rolls on.

    This week, I'm stepping across the line of scrimmage and giving further inspection to the defensive units. Offensive players are scrutinized with every throw, run and passing route completed. It's high time that the individual components of defenses get their just due.

    Today, I'm examining the defensive lines of each NFL team. In addition to the straight personnel, I'm also evaluating the fantasy contributions we can expect heading into 2006. For example, the Browns and Broncos slide in this form of evaluation. While both are successful at cutting down on total points allowed, their overall contribution in other defensive categories were lacking.

    The defending NFC champions rise to the head of the class. With a ballhawking defense and an offense that will apply pressure of its own, the Seattle Seahawks lead my list of defensive linemen.

    1. Seattle Seahawks
    The Seahawks led the NFL with 50 sacks in 2005. Bryce Fisher and Rocky Bernard combined for 17.5 of those sacks and accounted for 76 tackles. Grant Wistrom provided solid pressure off the other end with 52 tackles and four sacks of his own. Of chief import here was Wistrom's ability to stay healthy through the course of the year. Marcus Tubbs also supplemented the efforts of Chartric Darby and Bernard when he rotated into the game. Tubbs added 40 tackles and 5.5 sacks of his own. Seattle is primed for another run to the top of the fantasy stats with this nucleus returning intact.

    2. Atlanta Falcons
    John Abraham got his wish and exited the Jets this off-season. He now pairs with Patrick Kerney to form one of the most formidable defensive end combinations in the game. And when you add the pressure applied by tackle Rod Coleman (10.5 sacks), the Falcons figure to terrorize opposing quarterbacks throughout the fall. The Falcons will count on Coleman and Chad Lavalais to stuff the run better than they did in '05, when Atlanta ranked 26th in rushing defense at 128.9 yards per game.

    3. Carolina Panthers
    The Carolina Panthers remained among the top defenses in 2005 with great pressure off the edges from Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker. The duo combined for 18 sacks and 94 tackles to boost the Panthers to fifth in overall defense.
    The Panthers released Brentson Buckner this off-season. The 12-year NFL veteran was a huge part of Carolina's dominance against the run (91.6 yards per game). In his place, the Panthers signed Maake Kemoeatu from the Ravens. Kemoeatu achieved a new career-high with 40 tackles for Baltimore last season. He'll be teamed with Kris Jenkins, who returns to the field after playing in only one game last season. Jenkins has appeared in only five games over the last two seasons, so he is a risk.

    4. Miami Dolphins
    The Dolphins ranked second in the NFL last season with 49 sacks and return all four members of their defensive line. Jason Taylor remains the leader of the unit, and posted another double-digit sack total in 2005 with 12. Keith Traylor returns to thwart the running game up the middle. Traylor is paired in the middle with veteran defensive end-turned-tackle Vonnie Holliday, who tallied 52 tackles and five sacks of his own. On the end opposite Taylor is long-time NFL star Kevin Carter, who registered his highest tackle total since 1998 (53) and recorded six sacks.

    5. Chicago Bears
    The Bears return all starters from their top-ranked defense of 2005 (12.6 points per game). Chicago ranked 11th against the run at 102.3 yards per game and surrendered only nine touchdowns. Interior linemen Tommie Harris, Ian Scott and Tank Johnson handled the middle well, allowing Brian Urlacher and the top-notch linebacking corps to clean up plays at the line of scrimmage. Defensive ends Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown provided a consistent pass rush. Ogunleye and Brown combined for 86 tackles and 16 sacks.

    6. Jacksonville Jaguars

    Reggie Hayward boosted the Jaguars pass rush in the first year in Jacksonville. He collected 8.5 sacks to elevate the Jaguars to a tie for third overall (47). The Jaguars also ranked 14th in the league, allowing 106.8 yards per game while surrendering only four touchdowns on the ground. Marcus Stroud and John Henderson effectively clogged the middle with 113 tackles and former Chargers star Marcellus Wiley will be a bigger factor assuming he achieves a full season of health.

    7. New England Patriots
    The Patriots look to build off a strong finish to 2005, and the success of the 3-4 defense starts up front with Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour. Seymour was limited to 12 games last year and the Patriots still ranked eighth in the NFL at 98.8 rushing yards allowed per game. Wilfork grew into his role in the second year of his career and effectively worked the center of the line. To add depth to the group, the Patriots acquired Johnathan Sullivan, a former No. 1 pick of the New Orleans Saints.

    8. Indianapolis Colts
    Indianapolis rose to second in total defense last year on the strength of a persistent pass rush (their 46 sacks tied for fifth) and a solid rush defense (110.7 yards per game). Defensive end Robert Mathis racked up 11.5 sacks, narrowly besting Dwight Freeney by one-half of a sack for the team lead. Tony Dungy found the defense he'd been seeking, effectively utilizing the Mathis/Freeney combination alongside Raheem Brock, Corey Simon and Montae Reagor.

    9. New York Giants
    The Giants possess two of the game's best defensive ends in Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. The duo combined for 26 sacks a season ago. However, injuries and ineffectiveness in the defensive backfield forced the Giants down to 27th in pass defense (224 yards per game and 20 touchdowns). The duo effectively works to push action back to the middle where William Joseph excels. The Giants ranked 12th against the run at 103.5 yards per game. New York addressed their future in this year's draft as well, selecting defensive end Barry Cofield from Northwestern in the fourth round.

    10. Philadelphia Eagles
    Injuries absolutely crushed the Philadelphia defense in 2005. The perennial defensive powerhouse slipped to 27th in total defense at 24.3 points per game. At a glance, the biggest issue was the lack of a pass rush. Philadelphia ranked 26th in the NFL with 29 sacks. They'll look to re-establish their place at the top with former Saints star Darren Howard (11 sacks in 2004) joining Jevon Kearse, Mike Patterson and Darwin Walker.

    11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    He doesn't rank up fantasy stats of his own, but Anthony McFarland plugs the middle effectively and allows for Tampa Bay defensive ends to shine. He and Chris Hovan effectively worked the interior line in 2005, helping the Buccaneers to rise to 6th in the league in rushing defense at 94.7 yards per game. Greg Spires and Simeon Rice formed a formidable duo on the edges, combining for 18 sacks (14 by Rice) and 67 tackles.

    12. Pittsburgh Steelers
    The Steelers ranked third in the NFL last season at 16.1 points per game. As always, the Pittsburgh defense was predicated on stopping the run. Generally, if you run the ball well, you can stop it. The Steelers allowed 86 yards per game and 10 touchdowns on the season. The big force in the middle is Casey Hampton, who tallied a career high 42 tackles in 2005. Aaron Smith saw his sack total decrease last season, but he effectively sealed the edge to allow the linebacking corps and Troy Polamalu to finish off plays.

    13. Cincinnati Bengals
    The one glaring issue in the Bengals rise to prominence in 2005 was the lackluster play against the run. Cincinnati ranked 20th at 115.6 yards per game and allowed one touchdown per game. To that end, the Bengals added veteran defensive tackle Sam Adams from Buffalo to plug gaps inside alongside John Thornton. Justin Smith has averaged nearly seven sacks per season in five years with the Bengals. Consistent pressure from Smith and Robert Geathers (and the high-powered offense) yielded piles of interceptions in 2005.

    14. Baltimore Ravens
    Ray Lewis campaigned all off-season for help on the defensive line. Baltimore responded by trading up for University of Oregon defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and signing former Broncos standout Trevor Pryce. Ngata provides a big frame and quick feet to take on blockers and free Lewis to make plays. Pryce has long been a star for the Broncos, averaging eight sacks per full NFL season. He'll be counted on to provide pressure alongside Terrell Suggs, who has become a star in his own right. Suggs piled up 30.5 sacks in the last three years.

    15. Green Bay Packers
    The numbers for the Packers are somewhat deceiving. The Packers tied for 19th in total defense at 21.5 points per game, but ranked 23rd in rush defense at 125.6 yards per game. Aaron Kampman and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila combined for 14.5 sacks, but the inconsistency of the pass rush and a porous run defense led to 22 touchdown passes allowed. To help close the gap and shore up the run defense, the Packers added Ryan Pickett from the Rams. Pickett piled up 65 tackles from the nose tackle position last season.

    16. Arizona Cardinals
    Star defensive end Bertrand Berry missed half of the 2005 season, which served to expose the youth in the defensive secondary. Though Arizona ranked in the top 12 in both rushing and passing defense, the Cardinals allowed 39 touchdowns (22 rushing, 17 passing). The return of Berry to the defensive line will allow the Cardinals to apply more consistent pressure on the quarterback with Chike Okeafor, thereby taking some of it off of young defenders such as Antrel Rolle. The Cardinals also added defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy this off-season, who played and learned in defensive-minded regimes in New York (Giants) and Pittsburgh.

    17. Minnesota Vikings
    The Vikings produced as a fantasy defense by forcing 32 turnovers. Minnesota tied division rival Green Bay at 19th overall at 21.5 points allowed. The return of Kenechi Udeze from injury allowed the Vikings to part ways with longtime pass rusher Lance Johnstone. Udeze with team with 2005 draft pick Erasmus James to form youthful and talented bookends on the defensive line. Veteran Pat Williams effectively stuffs the run and slows up plays up the middle while 2003 top draft pick Kevin Williams had provided solid production at the other tackle position.

    18. Oakland Raiders
    The Oakland defense was decimated by injuries in 2005. Warren Sapp was expected to thwart the run in the middle, but missed six games and parts of others. In his absence, the Raiders ranked 25th in run defense, allowing 128.1 yards per game and 18 total touchdowns. Oakland received magnificent production from defensive end Derrick Burgess who accounted for 16 of the Raiders' 36 sacks. The Raiders added Lance Johnstone from the Vikings (7.5 sacks in 2005) to help free Burgess and Sapp to make plays. Tyler Brayton and Bobby Hamilton round out the defensive line.

    19. Kansas City Chiefs
    The Chiefs' defensive struggles continued in 2005. They allowed 20.3 points per game because they lacked a sustained pass rush and couldn't contain opponents' passing games. Like most teams that run the ball well, the Chiefs ranked high in rush defense (7th, 98.1 yards per game). Jared Allen offered some pressure with 11 sacks, but the team as a whole compiled only 29. As such, forcing opponents into passing downs worked against the Chiefs. Kansas City drafted Penn State defensive end Tamba Hali in the first round of this year's draft to upgrade that pass rush and to contain the edges.

    20. Buffalo Bills
    The Bills allowed 22.9 points per game in 2005, partly because of the inefficiency of the team's offense. Under new coach Dick Jauron, the Bills upgraded the line this off-season with the acquisitions of former Indianapolis Colts tackle Larry Tripplett and draft choice John McCargo. Tripplett offers a solid force in the middle as a run stuffer. He'll help shore up a Buffalo run defense that allowed 137 yards per game last season. These additions join the returning trio of Chris Kelsay, Tim Anderson and Aaron Schobel, who tallied 12 sacks a year ago.

    21. Washington Redskins
    The Redskins added Andre Carter from the 49ers to shore up a run defense that ranked 13th at 105.4 yards per game but allowed 15 scores. He's slotted into the left defensive end position opposite veteran Phillip Daniels (eight sacks in 2005). Washington added Carter with an eye on sealing the edge, but also for upping the pressure against division rivals Eli Manning, Drew Bledsoe and Donovan McNabb. The Redskins ranked 20th in the NFL last year with 35 sacks.

    22. New York Jets
    The Jets ranked 29th in the NFL against the run in 2005. New head coach Eric Mangini brings the blueprints from the successful 3-4 scheme from New England. In addition to a need to stop the run, the Jets also created generated 30 sacks last season. Shaun Ellis and Dewayne Robertson are still growing into their roles. To help aid their development, New York brought on Kimo Von Oelhoffen from the Super Bowl champion Steelers.

    23. St. Louis Rams
    The Rams ranked 28th in rushing defense last year, allowing 136.1 yards per game and 22 touchdowns. St. Louis addressed that need during the off-season by bringing veteran La'Roi Glover over from Dallas. He'll be counted on to shore up the middle alongside Jimmy Kennedy. The edges are safe with Leonard Little and Anthony Hargrove returning for St. Louis. The pair combined for 107 tackles and 16 sacks in 2005.

    24. Cleveland Browns
    Romeo Crennel continues the conversion of the Cleveland defense to mimic the scheme he ran in New England. The Browns ranked 11th in total defense, allowing 18.8 points per game in Crennel's first year at the helm. It was an improvement of 13 slots and nearly six points per game over 2004.

    Of the three defensive lineman, Alvin McKinley is by far the least experienced, and he's in his seventh NFL season! He'll team with veterans Orpheus Roye and Ted Washington with an eye on improving their 30th-ranked run defense from last season (137.6 yards per game).

    25. New Orleans Saints
    The Saints struggled terribly against the run in 2005, ranking 27th in the NFL at 134.1 yards per game and allowing one touchdown per game. They also produced little pressure on opposing quarterbacks with only 25 total sacks. Will Smith generated 8.5 sacks of his own, and Charles Grant struggled through a down year with only 2.5. I expect a rebound out of him this year and more stability on the whole as New Orleans moves past the tragedies and distractions of 2005. Grant had accumulated 27.5 sacks in his previous three years with the Saints, so the ability is there for greater production.

    26. San Diego Chargers
    The Chargers received tremendous production out of rookie Luis Castillo and second-year player Igor Olshansky and surprised many with their league best run defense. San Diego allowed only 84.3 yards per game. To some degree, that number was aided by the fact that the Chargers ranked 28th in pass defense (224.9 yards per game) and that opponents frequently engaged in a shoot-out with the potent San Diego offense.

    27. Detroit Lions
    The Lions will take on the face of new coach Rod Marinelli. Marinelli's calling card in the NFL is his brilliance along the defensive line. He turned the Tampa Bay defense into one of the most dominant in recent memory. The question is whether he can turn the quartet of Kalimba Edwards, James Hall, Shaun Rogers and Dan Wilkinson into a top-ranked unit. The Lions ranked 24th in sacks last year with 31 and 24th in run defense at 127.5 yards per game. Marinelli will look to boost these rankings in year one of his regime, which should be aided by the ability of the offense to move the ball under coordinator Mike Martz.

    28. Dallas Cowboys
    Veteran defensive end Greg Ellis is contemplating a move to the outside linebacker slot in Dallas' 3-4 scheme. That opens up a competition for his vacated spot between draft choice Jason Hatcher from Grambling State and 2005 selection Chris Canty. Dallas ranked in the middle of rush defenses (108.2 yards per game) and 11th in pass defense (192.7 yards per game) last season. The Cowboys are banking that second-year player Marcus Spears is ready to make a huge leap in productivity.

    29. Denver Broncos
    Denver tied for third in overall defense at 16.1 points per game on the strength of a stout run defense. The crowd of former Cleveland Browns defensive linemen, Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren and Michael Myers teamed with John Engelberger and the departed Trevor Pryce to rank second against the run (85.2 yards per game).

    30. Tennessee Titans
    The Titans run defense ranked 22nd last year (118.4 yards per game). Though it ranked in the middle of the pack in pass defense at 201 yards per game, an inconsistent pass rush outside of Kyle Vanden Bosch (12.5 sacks) and inexperience in the defensive backfield pushed the Titans down to 29th in overall defense (26.3 points per game).

    31. Houston Texans
    The Texans made the biggest noise on draft day by passing on USC tailback Reggie Bush. A quick look at the defensive stats from 2005 would make their choice of Mario Williams at least understandable. The Texans ranked last in rush defense at 143.9 yards per game and 24th in pass defense at 220.1 yards per game. It comes as no surprise then that they ranked last in points allowed per game at 26.9. While it's impossible to expect Williams to turn things around solo, his presence should make Anthony Weaver, Travis Johnson and Robaire Smith more effective.

    32. San Francisco 49ers
    Last season counted as a rebuilding year for San Francisco on both sides of the ball. The 49ers tied for 30th in total defense at 26.8 points per game after generating only 28 sacks (tied for 29th). Veteran Bryant Young had strong year for the 49ers in 2005, contributing eight sacks in 13 games played. However, he didn't receive much help overall. Anthony Adams and Marques Douglas join him on the three-man defensive line in Mike Nolan's 3-4 defense. The pair combined for 98 tackles and one sack in 2005. They'll need to improve to keep pressure off the defense backfield.
    The tour continues as I break down the linebacking corps and defensive backfields of all NFL teams. As mini-camps roll on and the injuries begin to mount, we'll be sure to revisit these lists to give you the most updated look inside each team.

    Team DL rankings: Seattle leads

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    Bdubya is offline Star Spokesman
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    Re: Team DL rankings: Seattle leads

    Now that's a crock! No way we are 17th in the league. I was expecting top 10, maybe top 5.
    MC's run away when I kick it
    They act so chicken, they should come with a large drink and a biscuit

  3. #3
    Zeus's Avatar
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    Re: Team DL rankings: Seattle leads

    "singersp" wrote:
    17. Minnesota Vikings
    The Vikings produced as a fantasy defense by forcing 32 turnovers. Minnesota tied division rival Green Bay at 19th overall at 21.5 points allowed. The return of Kenechi Udeze from injury allowed the Vikings to part ways with longtime pass rusher Lance Johnstone. Udeze with team with 2005 draft pick Erasmus James to form youthful and talented bookends on the defensive line. Veteran Pat Williams effectively stuffs the run and slows up plays up the middle while 2003 top draft pick Kevin Williams had provided solid production at the other tackle position.
    There's NO WAY IN HE*LL we are in the bottom-half in the league in D-Line play!!! P.Williams SHOULD have been a pro-bowler last year and K.Williams has already been a pro-bowler. Kenichi and Erasmus have some things to prove, that's for sure, but our tackle combo is easily top 5 in the league.

    Idiot writers.


    Thanks to Josdin for the awesome sig!

  4. #4
    twill's Avatar
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    Re: Team DL rankings: Seattle leads

    that is crock... i expected us to be higher

  5. #5
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    Re: Team DL rankings: Seattle leads

    His rankings seem to be weighing heavily on overall defensive performance and number of tackles/sacks recorded. MN was 19th overall in defense. Not sure how they compare in sacks (although probably not very high) or tackles (guessing middle of the pack). Bonus points given for turnovers. Without any new star power blood in the DL, the stats will have to prove to these anal-ysts that they are dominant players.

    All of these rankings are skewed to overall defensive performance. If you have a weakness in the LB or DB positions, it will effect the stats of the DL. In order to move up these rankings, the Vikings will have to move up in overall defensive rankings. Then all of a sudden these same players are much better in all of these rankings.

    I believe the potential for the DL is very high, once the overall defense starts playing to their potential. But I can't say that I'm surprised that they are ranked in the middle of the pack for last year's performance.

  6. #6
    ThorSPL's Avatar
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    Re: Team DL rankings: Seattle leads

    They will need to back up their talent with #'s before we're put any higher. Talent-wise we have to be top 10... our secondary is solid, but the linebackers have held us back for the last few years.

    Trust me, I'm a doctor.

  7. #7
    Perch56's Avatar
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    Re: Team DL rankings: Seattle leads

    bull crap, we should be top 10 for sure

  8. #8
    V4L's Avatar
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    Re: Team DL rankings: Seattle leads

    I agree with the ranking..

    We need to prove we are top 10 before they hand us a ranking.. No one knows how Erasmus and Udeze will pan out..

    Although P-will and K-will did really good, it shouldn't put us in the top 10 quite yet

  9. #9
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    Re: Team DL rankings: Seattle leads

    Boy, won't the sportswriters be surprised when 2 or 3 of our four DL make the Pro Bowl next season! I sure hope they like their crow served cold!!!

  10. #10
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    Re: Team DL rankings: Seattle leads

    We have two great players inside, and two question marks on the outside. Though we are talented up front, we still need more production. Seems like a fair rating to me.

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