The rules discourage defensive excellence in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some defensive excellence on display on that side of the ball.
According to last week’s Talk of Fame Network poll, that excellence shines brightest in Jacksonville.
We asked our listeners and readers which NFL team has the best defense this season, and the Jaguars prevailed in a very tight race with the Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings. The Jaguars received 28.8 percent of the vote, with the Rams and Vikings at 25 percent apiece.
Jacksonville finished second in the NFL across the board last season in yards allowed, points allowed (268) sacks (55) and takeaways (33) on the way to the AFC championship game. This was the rare case where money bought a dominant defense. The Jaguars spent $263 in free agency the last few years on veteran defenders CB A.J. Bouye, end Calais Campbell, safety Barry Church and end Malik Jackson.
The Jaguars also traded for Pro Bowl DT Marcell Dareus and used a Top-5 draft pick on CB Jalen Ramsey and a very high second-rounder on LB Myles Jack, both in 2016. Then Jacksonville drafted defensive tackle Taven Bryan with their first round pick last April, making one of the most talented defenses in the NFL even deeper.
As usual, the three hosts of the Talk of Fame Network could not agree. Ron Borges and Clark Judge both went with the Jaguars, and Rick Gosselin voted the Vikings. Last weekend’s game between the Jaguars and defending AFC champion New England Patriots influenced Judge.
“The Jaguars and the reason's simple,” Judge said. “They flummoxed Tom Brady like only one other team I've seen -- Baltimore. If you're good enough to confound the best quarterback out there, then you have my vote.”
The 2017 AFC championship game also influenced Borges.
“After the way the Jags undressed Tom Brady and the Patriots two games in a row, I'll go with Jacksonville,” Borges said, “but the Rams are damn good too.”
Gosselin went with a defense that allowed the fewest yards and points in the NFL last season and looks even better on paper this season with the addition of another first-round draft pick at cornerback (Mike Hughes). He liked the Vikings for their talent on and off the field. Mike Zimmer is not only the head coach; he’s the defensive signal caller.
“Zimmer has one of the best defensive minds in the game,” Gosselin said. “He put together a No. 1 ranked defense in Dallas in a 3-4 scheme and now he’s put together a top-ranked defense in Minnesota in a 4-3. His calls give the Vikings a defensive edge on a weekly basis.”