Can An Elite Defense Carry A Team In The Modern Game?

July 27, 2012; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets linebackers Bart Scott (57) and David Harris (52) look on during training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE

Back in 2000 the Baltimore Ravens captured a world championship by playing Elite defense Led by Ray Lexis. Some might even argue that the 2000 Ravens had the best defense of all time (argument for a different day). Brian Billick’s formula for victory worked perfectly for the Ravens back in 2000. Eleven years later, as offensive systems have evolved and become more fluid and dynamic, we ask… Is it possible for an NFL team to realistically contend for a championship by playing lights out defense? Can An Elite Defense carry a team as todays NFL becomes more offense friendly league?

This season the New York Jets will give us week to week insight on whether or not a team can be carried by an Elite defense. Heading into this season the Jets defense will be their strength. The Jets defense will be relied upon heavily to stop opposing offenses and keep the score manageable. The offense has struggled this preseason but the defense has looked very sharp. Veteran linebacker Bart Scott went as far as saying he thinks this years’ Jets defense might be the best in franchise history.

In 2011 Dan Marino’s 27 year old single season passing record was broken by Drew Brees, who now holds the record with 5,476 passing yards. Marino’s record was also surpassed in 2011 by some guy named Tom Brady. Brady threw for a career high and NFL second best 5,235 yards.

Last season we watched as the offensive side of the football in the NFL evolved. Teams were spreading out their offenses and using packages where more receivers were involved. The tight end position was heavily emphasized in 2011. Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski set a new bar for tight end production. Look for other teams across the league to try and mimic that production at the tight end position in 2012.

Witnessing quarterbacks such as Brees, Brady, Rodgers rack up yards and points last season, makes it difficult to fathom the idea of a defensively lead team contending for a championship. Playing stout defense can only carry a team so far in today’s game. Against Elite teams your offense must be able to score points. The Brady’s and Brees’ of the world are going to find ways to score touchdowns no matter what defenses are lined up in front of them.

Playing great defense these days is a great formula for victory if you have an efficient offense to go along. Poor offensive play means more possessions for the opposition and more chances for them score. With a great defense you can have a less formidable offense but it is still imperative that the offense be capable of keeping up on the scoreboard.

With the new rule changes in the NFL, the broken passing records and quarterbacks playing at an all time high level (rookies and second year guys included)-- I think the time has come and gone where we’ll see Elite defensive teams winning Superbowl titles. 11 seasons have come and gone since a true defensive team captured a Superbowl title and it is my feeling that this trend will continue.

The New York Jets will be the catalyst in 2012 for a defensively lead style of play. If any defense were going to prove the doubters wrong the Jets defense is more than capable. They have a tough mountain to claim and it doesn’t help that they have to see that guy Brady twice a season. We shall see how the Jets fare and whether or not defensive strength and success is a reality in a new NFL.

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