NFL: Defensive Focus

Photo by Project 290 on Unsplash

From college football to the NFL, defense is key. You will see sturdy defensive players and intricate defense systems. But what makes a good D?

 

The Art Of Defending

Some former players doing punditry in the media say the art of tackling has gone and it should now be referred to as the art of defending because so many teams prefer to focus on passing rather than the big hits. The two prototype defensive schemes are the basic 4-3 and the go-to 3-4 defensive systems employed by defensive coordinators in the NFL. Their playbooks are integral to the success of the game and with so much emphasis being placed on offensive passing to boost creativity, defences have to be on the ball more than ever before not to get caught out.

The most recent odds seem to indicate that the LA Rams will have the best defense again next season after their Super Bowl victory, but the NFL always throws up a surprise or two for us. That’s why we love football! Making opposition runners hit the dirt is extremely satisfying for a defensive player who dreams of making the big tackle. We decided to take a look at what makes defense so special.

 

For A Good Defense What Points Should We Pay Attention To?

Take out the obvious point-scoring and end-zone defense. To really get a feel for a decent defense you need to dig a little deeper to get to the crux of the matter. This brings us to the numbers. Stats never lie and while the conference tables may not be your friend at times, they do portray an accurate summary of your performances. You could be the master of defending runners but not have a clue what to do when teams throw the ball about and adopt a superior passing game (and vice-versa). This is evident when the dominant team in terms of points allowed, usually ranks in the first ten for a run and pass defense. You can’t choose one or the other to be successful, you have to perfect both, or someone will always expose your weaknesses.

Being tactical and sensible in defense involves keeping bodies fresh. Coaches get paid to make the big calls and must determine the optimum time to rest players off the field. When fatigue sets in on a defensive team it can be likened to playing with a man down. Losing that extra yard of speed or the intensity of your power shot in the tackle, can be extremely damaging and will ultimately lead to failure on the field. Rest is important in defense and should not be underestimated when it comes to the third-down or there will be multiple turnovers, yards lost and points conceded.

 

How A Defense Can Be Hurt By The Offense

Your own offense can be more of a threat to you than the plays of the opposition at times. If your offensive counterparts do not pull their weight then the pressure on the defense team is monumental. Any offense with a high turnover percentage will leave opportunities wanting and you may have to abandon any hopes you have of winning the game even if your D is water-tight for the duration. Offenses that continuously turn the ball over or give the opposing team a ball at halfway or even worse, in your own half, are going to cost you dearly. Constantly being dragged back to the field to perform over and over can be grueling and as previously discussed, fatigue is no friend of the defensive alignment.

 

How Important Are Red Zone Stats For A Defence?

If you look at it from both sides of the footballing fence, both the offense and the defense have a good argument to utilise red-zone stats. Offensively, it is obvious that when you get to the red zone, it is your primary objective to score. Therefore these stats paint a pretty good picture of who is performing and who is off-form. From a defensive perspective, you can flip this around and assess the number of times a defense lets the opposition into the red zone. What are the reasons for this? Where can they tighten up?

In conclusion, the red-zone stats are pivotal to any review and crucial for continued performance improvement on the field in both attack and defense.

 

NFL Defensive Stats 2020

  • Best Defense 2020: The Los Angeles Rams
  • Worst Defence 2020: The Detroit Lions
  • The Most Interceptions 2020: The Dolphins, Saints, Patriots, and Steelers (tied 18 each)
  • The Most Takeaways 2020: The Miami Dolphins
  • The Most Sacks in 2020: The Steelers