2023 NFL season: Best defense on paper before the season

As in previous years, the top 10 and various position rankings will be the focus of July. This week, we’re focusing on defenses before moving on to the force’s offensive side. We also made the decision to list the 10 most formidable defenses on paper for the 2023 season.

San Francisco 49ers

The Niners have one of the league’s top defenses for a number of years, and their participation in three of the last four NFC Conference Finals is largely due to their “elite” defense. San Francisco even had the best defense in the NFL in 2023, setting records for points allowed per game (16.3) and yards allowed per game (300.6). Although the loss of defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is undoubtedly detrimental, his replacement, Steve Wilks, is more than capable, and the team’s talent level is still very high.

The 49ers were successful in securing one of the top players available during the free agent period: DL Javon Hargrave. He will be an added menace on the defensive line because he is a strong inside pass-rusher (11.5 sacks in 2022). Because Nick Bosa, who holds the title of Best Defender in the NFL, may be found outside. As a result, the front seven seems to be very strong, especially considering that San Francisco also features a very strong linebacker tandem in Fred Warner and Dr. Greenlaw. For many years, this position has been a franchise’s strong suit.

New York Jets

The Jets hired Robert Saleh from San Francisco, launching a head coach with a distinct defensive identity. And this club, which advanced in 2022 and placed among the top 5 NFL defenses, already amply reflects its identity. The whole thing is fascinating since the New York team has excelled both on the ground and in the air. This team’s core consists of two rising players, Quinnen Williams up forward and Sauce Gardner in the back. Since his first season, the latter has made a name for himself as one of the league’s top cornerbacks.

The pass-rush, which in 2022 is a little on the limited side, is the defense’s biggest question mark. Although Jermaine Johnson’s eruption was predicted, the team nevertheless chose to acquire fresh talent by selecting Will McDonald IV extremely early.

Aaron Rodgers’ entrance in New York is a significant novelty. This season, the QB should help the offense advance, and the club will need to rely less on the defense. Defensive players that are less worn out will be able to play even better.

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas’ defense, which is probably the league’s most explosive, is evident in its capacity to compel loose balls. Thus, the Cowboys have led the NFL in this category for the previous two seasons, particularly in 2022 when 33 forced ball losses were recorded. It must be acknowledged that this club has playmakers, such Trevon Diggs, who can capitalize on mismatches, DeMarcus Lawrence, who has been great since entering the NFL (26.5 sacks in 2 years), and exceptional Micah Parsons. Additionally, the addition of Stephon Gilmore will enable this squad to field two pass-rush and cornerback combinations that combine youth and experience.

The Cowboys defense encountered some difficulties against the running game in 2022. In order to reinforce the inside, the team has chosen to select numerous players from the Draft. The midfield will be strengthened by LB DeMarvion Overshown and the gigantic DT Mazi Smith will fill in the holes.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles went within 2 minor sacks of the NFL record (72) last year. The majority of the team’s pass-rushers, including Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, and Brandon Graham, are still on the field. The lone notable departure is that of inside star Javon Hargrave, who had agreed to 11.5 sacks in 2022. The brilliant Jalen Carter is intended to take his place in Philadelphia, but nothing is assured with a rookie.

Philadelphia struggled to retain everyone since so many players were out of contract, and five starters left. A lesser evil because a significant portion of the finalist team’s skeleton is still present, especially the outstanding CB combo of Darius Slay and James Bradberry. Therefore, Sean Desai, who took over as defensive coordinator for Jonathan Gannon, will have quality at his disposal. And we can’t wait to see if the tactic of relying on University of Georgia defense pays off…

Buffalo Bills

The Bills’ team for the next season will be nearly identical to one that ranks among the top 5 NFL defenses in 2022. The departing players have been replaced. Leslie Frazier, the defensive coordinator, is the final major departure after doing admirably for many years.

But there’s really nothing to worry about, as Buffalo has retained all of its strength. One of the best safety duos in the country (Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde) will be back, CB Tre’Davious White should be 100% in 2023 (he was coming back from a big knee injury last year), and Von Miller will return from injury. The defense had been more vulnerable without him, with in particular a too timid pass-rush. To avoid disappointment, the franchise also signed Leonard Floyd, who is a quality rotation man in this exercise.

New England Patriots

Excellent defense from New England in 2022 helped the team to remain in the postseason hunt all the way through. Thus, the Pats finished second in the NFL for caused ball losses (30), fourth for sacks (54) and fifth for yards per carry allowed. Figures that demonstrate a thorough defense, despite some absences. The team added fresh talent during the Draft, focusing on the CB Christian Gonzalez and the pass-rusher Keion White in an effort to maintain its standards.

Being the captain of the club and a true defensive thinker, Bill Belichick feels confident in the performance of his defense. But it would be beneficial if the attack were more effective to make his life simpler. The defense would be under less stress and play less time as a result.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens’ defense made a comeback in 2022 after a disappointing 2021 campaign, placing in the top 10 in every significant statistical category. And it was a great decision to add LB All-Pro Roquan Smith during the current campaign, significantly bolstering the defense. In the absence of quarterback Lamar Jackson, it was evidently she who led the club to the playoffs.

Baltimore has a lot of very good players, especially behind with Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Williams or Kyle Hamilton, but there are a few questions. CB Marcus Peters has not been replaced and his production will not be easy to fill. But it is above all on the pass-rush that the questions are concentrated. Old veterans Calais Campbell (5.5 sacks in 2022) and Justin Houston (team leader with 9.5 sacks) are gone, and new leaders will have to be found.

Denver Broncos

In the first part of the 2022 season, the Broncos’ defense was number 1 in the NFL. And despite a small logical drop in speed at the end, she finished at the top of the rankings. It must be said that she was not helped by a horrible attack, which often returned the ball to the opponents. As a result, the defense was too often on the field, which led to fatigue and injuries.

With the arrival of coach Sean Payton, we hope for an awakening of Russell Wilson and the Denver attack. This would allow the defense to breathe. Because there is talent in this squad, including DB stars like Patrick Surtain II or Justin Simmons. A little struggling at times, the pass-rush saw the arrival of Zach Allen for the inside, and Randy Gregory should be 100% in 2023 on the outside.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t as « stacked » as it was a few seasons ago, but the dose of talent remains very serious. The Steelers have one of the trios with the most potential on the pass-rush, with Cameron Heyward on the inside, TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith on the outside. Watt’s return to form is also key for this team. He had missed 7 games in 2022 and is a perennial candidate for the Best Defender trophy.

Behind, Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the best Safety in the country. And he will have reinforcements this season. Because if the Steelers let go of the very good Cameron Sutton, they recovered experience with Patrick Peterson, and potential with the rookie Joey Porter Jr. For the second season of the Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin, Pittsburgh should still be solid .

Washington Commanders

This last spot gave rise to hesitation, with the Dolphins in particular in the balance. But I finally opted for the potential of the dying Commanders.

Expected to be dominant in 2021, Washington’s defense had greatly disappointed. Not really expected in 2022, it rather surprised positively with in particular a 4th position in the NFL against the aerial play and only 17.9 less conceded per game starting in Week 6. And no team has defended better than Washington on 3rd down. Difficult to know what face it will have this year, but the arguments are certain.

The key point is the return of Chase Young, who came back for 3 games last season and should be 100% after good preparation. The old 2th Draft pick and Best Defensive Rookie in 2020 can be a game-changer. Last year, the Commanders had trouble forcing ball losses, and they may have found the right man in Emmanuel Forbes. CB is posting some pretty incredible stats, with 14 interceptions including 6 pick-6s in 3 years with Mississippi State.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *