I'm sure the headline is making you all curious as to what this is about, now if I may have your attention let's get started. The idea is that every good defense has a core, some may have their opinion's on who that is or isn't. I present to you an idea/theory to what makes a good defense. The idea is that on every level (DL,LB,DB) has a good-great player raising the level of everyone else's play. I've done some looking at teams throughout the course 10-15 seasons and noticed this trend that seems to be somewhat consistent with all of them. Now obviously some of these teams had more than just one good player on at each level of defense but its these players that stand out in my mind that helped keep a constant level of high defensive play.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Mid 90's to early 00's)- This defense is probably one of the better defenses all time but what made this team so great? Warren Sapp, Derek Brooks and John Lynch. These three players helped shape the defense for year which eventually won them a Super Bowl in 2002. They had a star or all pro so to speak on all three levels DL LB and DB.
- New England Patriots (Late 90's to mid 00's)- The team that won 3 Supers Bowls from 2001-04 establishing the Pats as a Dynasty but lets look at their defense that was near top ranked for this glorious point in time for them. Richard Seymour, Teddy Bruschi and Lawyer Milloy/Rodney Harrison. Again all 3 levels of their d had a good to great player. Bruschi may not be HOF line backer but his presence on that team was valuable as Ray Lewis was for the Ravens speaking of which...
- Baltimore Ravens (Early 00's to late 00's)- One of the few teams that actually won a Super Bowl with playing one side of the ball better than everyone else. Dilfer did his job but we're talking about defenses here. Tony Siragusa, Ray Lewis and Rod Woodson(2001) and in the later years Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata and Ed Reed.
- Chicago Bears (Early 00's to Late 00's)- Yet another great D that carried a below average QB to the big game. I mainly want to focus on the mid 00's because in 06 they made the Super Bowl with Tommie Harris, Brian Urlacher and Chris Harris. Harris an interesting one because he doesn't necessarily compare to the previous safeties listed on here but was still a good player so I'll say its close enough
- New York Jets (Late 00's to early 2010's)- Known more for outrageous predictions than actually winning anything Rex Ryan still managed to build a good defense for the New York Jets. Some of these players were hold overs from Mangini and even Edwards but it took Rex's mind to raise their level of play. Shaun Ellis, Bart Scott and Darrelle Revis. Revis is an interesting one because if you've noticed so far the 3rd level is usually a safety. You can't deny Revis ability to take away half the field which is what earned him a spot on the Jets' three levels.
- Philadelphia Eagles (Early 00's to mid 00's)- (I actually I have to back track here because I missed these guys when writing this the other day) The thing that the Eagle's were known for early on with Andy Reid other than their ability to lose the NFC championship year after year, was that there was a good defense on a pretty consistent basis. Corey Simon, Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Dawkins. There was a couple years in between I believe Trotter was gone and I think Dawkins got but there was a reason they brought him back in 04, probably because their defense played a little better with him on the field.
- Pittsburgh Steelers- For these guys I'm not really going to insert a time period because well Pitt's defense has been known to be good since the dawn of time and to go back and find that many players I'd probably just need to make its own post for it. We'll look at their defense from 2005- 2010. Casey Hampton, Troy Polamalu, Joey Porter/James Harrison. Again we see another exception on this with the LB instead of the usual MLB you see the outside backer being the 2nd level for these guys. That may be due to scheme similar to the Jets with Revis.
- Carolina Panthers- Yes I saved our team for last for two reasons. 1) I wanted to look at the 03 team that made the Super Bowl run and 2) Make a case for a player that many might not see as a "core" player but a very good one. 2003-Kris Jenkins/Peppers, Dan Morgan and Mike Minter. Yes this was very hard hence the reason I put both Jenkins and Peppers I'll let all of you decide who you think that might be personally I think Jenkins but Peppers makes a strong case. Morgan was truly incredible at LB for us he always seems to find the ball no matter what while Minter was the glue that held the secondary together. Now fast forward to 2013 Star Lotulelei, Luke Kuechly and Mike Mitchell. in 2012 this team was good we were still 10th in overall defense but with the addition of Star and Mike we became really good (coincidence?). Mitchell had a very productive year and should of been a pro bowl player. Finishing the season with 67 tackles 2 FF 4 sacks and 4ints, he was all over the place and I believe should be held to a higher priority of keeping over Hardy(unless Hardy decides to play safety, which he's crazy you never know...).
So if you're wondering yes this whole post was made for the sole purpose of Mike Mitchell I just needed to show 8 examples so you got the idea. Even if he doesn't stick around, a case can be made to either draft or acquire a high caliber safety over keeping a player like Hardy. I think that about wraps it up for me questions, comments, and opinions are more than welcome I hope you all enjoyed reading this as I did write it.