Building the Best All-Time NFL Defense
We have all heard the phrase, “Defense wins championships.” It is the one sports quote that will always be true in the NFL. It is rare that a team with a great offense and a bad defense wins a Super Bowl. In fact, it is probably never going to happen. You have to learn how to stop the opponent to consistently win enough games to be a World Champion.
The 1976 Oakland Raiders, 2006 Indianapolis Colts, 2011 New York Giants, 2012 Baltimore Ravens are the only four teams to have a defense ranked outside the top ten in the NFL in overall yards and points and still go on to win a Super Bowl. That is only four times in the 50 year history of the game which means that 92% of the time, the Super Bowl champion has a defense ranked in the top ten in points and yards.
Defense is important. The NFL is changing and offenses are bringing in all sorts of options, tricks, and even extra lineman to catch passes just to fool a defense and score points. In honor of the hard-working defenders around the NFL, this is the Ultimate list of the best defensive players we could put together into one unit. Enjoy.
DE – Reggie White, Philadelphia Eagles
Try stopping Reggie White before he shoves you aside. Just do it. You have no choice if you are the offensive line trying to block him. His first move was so quick and deadly, he finished his career with the most sacks in NFL history with 198. Bruce Smith came along and topped him with 200 but that was a couple of years later.
DT – Joe Greene, Pittsburgh Steelers
You don’t get the nickname “Mean” Joe Greene because you are the nicest guy on the football field. You get it because you literally kill your opponents. He was a giant that pushed o-lineman aside like leftover Thanksgiving turkey legs. He was about as close to unstoppable as a wrecking ball hitting a styrofoam wall.
DT (4-3) – Alan Page, Minnesota Vikings
Have you ever heard of the “Purple People Eaters?” If so, then you already know Alan Page. If not, well, let us explain. The Vikings had a defensive line that spent every waking minute rushing the QB. They fought hard and they moved quickly from side to side confusing the offensive line and hurrying around them to sack the QB. Alan Page might be one of the second greatest defensive lineman ever to play the game and he makes this lineup in the 4-3 sets.
DE – Deacon Jones, Los Angeles Rams
Deacon Jones was the first person in the NFL to start calling hitting the QB behind the line of scrimmage as a sack. He literally helped transform the DE position and it was very apparent when the NFL added a rule that no longer allows a defensive player to slap the helmet of an opposing player. He used it to perfection and if they kept track of Sacks prior to 1982, he would be the NFL’s best ever.
OLB – Lawrence Taylor, New York Giants
There will never be another player quite like Lawrence Taylor. His skill set was unmatched and his drive was ridiculous. The man played hard from start to finish, regardless of the score. He covered Tight Ends, Wideouts, Running Backs, and anyone else sent his way. He was a blanket defender, a QB sacking monster, and a terror to read.
MLB – Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens
If you love LT, then you must love Ray Lewis. The thought of having both LT and Ray Lewis lineup at the LB position makes us all want to head to the bathroom. Any QB that would line up and see both of them might retire on the spot.
LB (3-4) – Mike Singletary, Chicago Bears
Long before Ray Lewis, there was a guy by the name of Mike Singletary. His presence was felt from sideline to sideline too. He was so intense that he eventually became known as, “Samurai Mike”. He led the 1985 Chicago Bears to a 15-1 record and their one and only Super Bowl championship.
OLB – Ted Hendricks, Oakland Raiders
The tallest player in NFL history was 7 foot tall Defensive Tackle Richard Sligh. He was huge but never truly amounted into a success in the NFL. Ted Hendricks, however, did. He was a ridiculous 6’7″ tall and 220 pounds of pure muscle. He finished his career with 26 picks, 16 fumble recoveries, 9 sacks (they started tracking sacks in the final two years of his career. The number should be ten times higher), and owns 4 Super Bowl Championship rings.
CB – Rod Woodson, Pittsburgh Steelers
Rod Woodson is the best cover corner the NFL has ever seen. He not only found a way to sack the opposing QBs, he was also a menace all over the football field. He finished with 71 INTs and 13.5 sacks for his career that also includes 1,163 tackles. The man is just sick. If you were going to throw his way, you best be ready to stop him from scoring. Because he was going to either make a pick or tip the ball for a teammate. With Woodson and Sanders covering the two best WRs on the field, there is no way anyone is going to be scoring on deep passes.
CB – Deion Sanders, Atlanta Falcons
Speed, speed, speed. Deion Sanders could cover the entire field and still have room for more. He was so fast and efficient, he is one of the best defensive backs ever. He made the craziest decisions but it always paid off. He was a gambler that could make up for a bad choice. He sometimes would go for an interception, miss it completely, and still make the tackle on the player. He was a guy you always have to be aware of on the field.
FS – Ronnie Lott, San Francisco 49ers
Ronnie Lott turned even the toughest NFL WRs into children when they would have to run routes across his nose because they knew if they could catch it, he was going to slaughter them shortly after. He became a terror and almost every QB was not going to throw his way simply so their WR wouldn’t get hurt. He was not mean, he was great.
SS – Paul Krause, Washington Redskins
Before the 1st Super Bowl, 1967, Paul Krause played for Washington. He then headed to Minnesota where he had 53 of his 81 career INTs. He was a big guy and that was something new to a lot of NFL QBs. They have seen big players but none of them were as daunting as Krause.