Five Defenses to Keep an Eye On



Just last week, "Five Offenses to Keep an Eye On" was published here on Wildchat Sports. It only makes sense for an similar piece to come out, focusing on five defenses to watch for this upcoming season. 

You can see for yourself the five offenses that were mentioned in the article. They stood out compared to their other counterparts throughout the league because of specific storylines surrounding them now that much of the offseason has concluded. Whether it was signings, draft picks, or a combination of both to go with returning pieces, those offenses should be exciting to watch this season. 

While not as glamorous, similar reasoning will be used to highlight some intriguing defenses that stand out. Forgoing further introduction, let's take a look at some must-watch defenses for 2020.

1. Baltimore Ravens 

The Ravens were not one of the five offenses listed in the aforementioned article. That doesn't mean Lamar Jackson and company won't be the main attraction when tuning into Ravens games. But the defense is something to keep an eye on as well.  

The return of defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale cannot be understated. Martindale was a popular choice to fill one of the head-coaching vacancies during the latest coaching carousel, but luckily for Baltimore he will return for at least another season.  

The Ravens were a top three defense last season based on points allowed. The emergence of Marlon Humphrey on the along with the addition of Earl Thomas really shored things up on the backend. The secondary appears to be one of the deepest units in the league even with the projected loss of Tony Jefferson at safety.  

Selecting Patrick Queen in the first round, trading for Calais Campbell in exchange for a late-round pick, and the signing of Derek Wolfe will surely help to shore up the front seven. The pass rush was lacking at times last season and that is something Martindale and the staff will look to change. The versatility that these three players will bring should play a huge role in hopefully improving the rush.  

A top three defense last season that appeared like it could get even more from its pass rush it a reason for excitement. If the franchise-tagged Matt Judon and the rest of the front find a way to get more pressure on quarterbacks, the NFL will have a real problem on their hands.

 

2. Denver Broncos 

The Broncos, a team that was mentioned as one of the five offenses you should keep an eye on, appear again here as a defense that should be really fun to watch. In Vic Fangio's first year at the helm, the Broncos were a team no one wanted to play because of their defense. While their 7-9 record didn't turn many heads, they were a solidly-coached squad that was in a lot of one-possession battles. 

Vic Fangio, a defensive-minded coach by trade, will likely be able to incorporate more into his scheme and play-calling during his second-year in charge. While much of the offseason will be conducted virtually it appears, there is still a prime opportunity to install more complex looks this season.  

Aside from Shelby Harris and Derek Wolfe, who were mostly used as run-stuffers last season, almost all of the defensive players from last year return. Adding proven veterans such as Jurrell Casey and A.J. Bouye will add further experience, toughness, and productivity to the defense.  

Having Bradley Chubb for a whole season will be massive. Chubb lost his whole season last year due to an unfortunate ACL tear. Chubb seems like he could be a premier difference maker in this league after seeing what he could do during his rookie season in 2018.  

The unit doesn't have as much top-end talent as some other defenses in the league, but there are hardly any holes. It seems like a tough and versatile group on paper that should make even more strides in 2020.  

 

3. Indianapolis Colts

Watch for the Colts in 2020. New quarterback Philip Rivers and the offense will be an intriguing storyline to follow as the season progresses. However, the defense may be the rock that the team can fall back on this season. 

DeForest Buckner. What else is their to say? Darius Leonard. Kenny Moore. You catch the drift.

General manager Chris Ballard decided to ship the franchise's first round pick (13th overall) to the 49ers in exchange for All-Pro DeForest Buckner and locked him into a massive extension in the process. One of the best interior defensive lineman in the league, Buckner will wreak havoc with his non-stop motor all game long and open things up for his teammates. 

Single him and he beats you easily. Double him and you're letting Darius Leonard blow through the gap. Pick your poison. This is a youthful defense with studs at all three levels of it. With some progression from players such as Rock Ya-Sin, Bobby Okereke, and Kemoko Turay, there is no reason this can't be a top five defense in the league. 

The depth as it stands is impressive at every position and coordinator Matt Eberflus will have a lot of options at his disposal. It will be exciting to see how the pieces fit together and how the defense progresses as the season goes.

4. Los Angeles Chargers

When you have Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa coming off the edge on every snap, that in itself is must-watch television. Whether it is a big hit, strip sack, or batted pass, it seems like these guys are always making an impact on the game. You can scheme for them, but you can only keep them both quiet for so long. 

A defense with plenty of athleticism and speed added more with the first-round selection of linebacker Kenneth Murray. Arguably the best linebacker prospect in the draft after Clemson's Isaiah Simmons, Murray should make an immediate difference in the middle of the defense. With Denzel Perryman and Uchenna Nwosu, there is now some serious depth at a spot that needed it. 

And if you had forgotten, Derwin James missed almost all of last season due to injury. During his rookie season in 2018, James became a pro-bowler as well as an first-team All-Pro. He seemed poised to become one of the premier young defenders in the game. With a full recovery anticipated by the start of the season, expect some big things from James.

The signing of Chris Harris appears to be one of the more underrated signings of the offseason. Coming from a divisional foe in the Broncos, Harris should immediately be an almost every-down player for the team. Whether on the boundary or in the slot, Harris can share the field with Casey Hayward and Desmond King to form a potent trio at the position. 

Well-respected defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has run a solid defense in recent years. It seems like it is only going to get better this season, albeit in a tough AFC West division.

5. Philadelphia Eagles

For a few years now, the Eagles have seemed like a cornerback away from being a legitimate defense. With a combination of inexperience and uninspiring veterans, the Eagles defense has struggled against dangerous aerial attacks. Typically, the pass rush has had to get home quickly or there would be a ton of pressure on the backend. 

Enter Darius Slay. Trading with the Lions for the proven #1 cornerback will surely go a long way and shoring up the pass defense. In todays NFL, having that dependable lockdown cornerback goes a long way. Jim Schwartz, and Eagles Fans, should be thrilled about their new weapon who can help to mitigate damage on one side of the field. 

Losing Malcolm Jenkins isn't something to sneeze at, but the team couldn't afford both him and Slay with his new extension. Cutting ties with Jenkins was likely a tough call, but one the Eagles were willing to make. Newly drafted K'Von Wallace and veteran Jalen Mills should be able to do an adequate job at safety with Rodney McLeod also in the mix. 

The rotation along the defensive line has been a strong suit in recent seasons and appears intact this season as well. Fletcher Cox is still an pro-bowl caliber talent at the defensive tackle position and a legitimate game-wrecker when in form. On paper, this looks like a strong unit. 

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