All AFC South – Defense
By Terry OBrien
On July 4th, we spoke about the All AFC South Offense. We saw a superstar quarterback, two amazing running backs, a receiving corps second to none and a weak offensive line. That is our division. But what about defense? How does that stack up? Let’s consider the “All AFC South” defense.
Left Defensive End -Dwight Freeney. There are those who say Dwight benefits from having Robert Mathis on the other side. I disagree. Dwight Freeney has a whole catalog of moves and the athletic quickness to pull them off. A left tackle who can control Dwight Freeney is a pro-bowl caliber LT. He is simply the best. Dwight Freeney plays every second of every down. There is none better.
Right Defensive End – Mario Williams. I don’t buy the hype about Mario Williams. I think he plays his area well, but he is not in the same league as Dwight Freeney on the right side. I might have chosen Robert Mathis here, but Mario puts up the numbers. I only know Eben Britton from the Jaguars controlled him and Eben Britton is far from good as a right tackle. So be it, Mario is the guy on our team.
Defensive Tackle #1 – Jason Jones. The Titans still have a line up front that is worthy of respect. Albert Haynesworth was the best, but only played when he wanted to. Now that he is gone, the Titans depend on Jason Jones up front. To be honest, the fact that Jason is our choice only shows how weak the division is in this position.
Defensive Tackle #2 – Tony Brown. Once again the Titans have the edge on everyone. Tony Brown is an up and down player that has improved every year. We need to watch him this year because the Titans need him more than every. Tony Broen makes our ALL AFC South defense because no one else is worthy of discussion right now.
Middle Linebacker – Demeco Ryans. Is therea question about this? The Texans are building a very good linebackers corps and Demeco Ryans is the heart of their defense. Actually you could place Kirk Morrison here or Justin Durant. Any of the three would make a fine starting middle linebacker. If the division has an amazing defensive strength, it is in the linebackers.
Outside Linebacker – Daryl Smith. I don’t know how many people know this, but Daryl Smith is the best OLB in a 4-3 defense in the NFL. Against the run, maybe Jarret Johnson from Baltimore or Bryan Thomas from the Jets are better. But add in rushing and coverage skills, no one has the combination Daryl has. Am I being a homer here? I don’t think so.
Outside Linebacker – Brian Cushing. I want to gag. If there is anyone more over rated than Brian Cushing? Maybe, but he is close. He makes a lot of tackles and he plays a complete game, but I watched him watch too many Jaguar touchdowns to be convinced. Zack Miller from the Jaguars embarrassed him on an over the middle crossing route. I give up. Brian Cushing is on the team. But give me Keith Bulluck any day.
Right Cornerback – Rashean Mathis. A lot of people think Rashean Mathis has lost a step and isn’t all he is reputed to be. I only know this, when he is in the game, the Jaguars are in the game as well. He picks Ben Worthlesberger’s pocket every time they play. I love Rashean and am being an over the top homer here, but name me someone better in the division?
Left Cornerback – Cortland Finnegan. Cortland had a better 2007 and 2008 than he had in 2009. He is a decent coverage guy who won’t hurt you being in the game. The truth is, the AFC South does not have great cornerbacks. Maybe that is why Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub threw for as many yards as they did.
Safety – Bob Sanders. I don’t care if he hasn’t been seen since signing a big contract, no one can control a game like Bob Sanders. Bob is from my home town and no mother let their kids play with Bob. At Iowa, he had to wear a red vest in practice so people knew where he was. Bob hits with the full force of his body and always knows where the play is going. He is a smart physical player who the Colts missed. He belongs on our team.
Safety – Bernard Pollard. Oh how stupid the Jaguars were to pass on this guy. Houston could not stop the run until Bernard showed up. He made the Texans competitive in the second half of the 2009 season. Everyone, Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones Drew, everyone could crack off big runs. You don’t see that happening in the second half of the season. Bernard belongs on the team.
Well there you have it. In the AFC South, we play the defensive ends well, the linebacker position well and the safety position well. We don’t play the defensive tackle or cornerback positions very well. What does that mean? It means Matt Schaub and Peyton Manning will put up big numbers again this year. It also means Phillip Rivers may have a big year in the fantasy leagues as he gets to play the AFC South this year.
What does this mean for the Jaguars? They better sign Rashean Mathis. They better hope Reggie Nelson figures it out. They better hope Derek Cox is better than last year, Derek Cox was not wonderful in the backfield all of the time. We will need a good defensive backfield in 2010. It also means that Tyson Alualu may become a star in the AFC South. There is no one else out there.
Looks like a good season coming. I heard the Denver game was already sold out and Philly was close. I think the Jaguars will be popular this year. See you at the stadium.
– Terry O’Brien