In the new “In the Trenches” video series, Pro Football Weekly is searching for the best defense in the NFL. The first matchup of the bracket is between the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets.
The winner will be decided by a vote from the fans, but here’s what the PFW staff had to say about the matchup:
Associate editor Kevin Fishbain:
“Jets: The best cornerback in the league, and arguably the best defensive player of the game, Darrelle Revis, makes the difference here. When your team can have a guy that shuts down one half of the field, it makes a huge difference, and the Ravens simply don't have that in the secondary. I know the Jets' defense took a step back last season, but with the Revis-Antonio Cromartie tandem and young DEs Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, the Jets should be improved. Not to mention one of the league's top ILB combos in David Harris and Bart Scott. Terrell Suggs' injury and the Ravens' age also knocks them down a notch, as I'll give it to the Jets by a hair.”
Senior editor Eric Edholm:
“I love Revis, but the Ravens have waves of players that make this a better overall unit. They might be the one team that can sustain a Terrell Suggs injury and be OK. I love the backups, some better than the Jets’ starters.”
Senior editor Nolan Nawrocki:
“Rex Ryan designed his defense in a mirror image of the Ravens. The Jets run a very similar, pressure-principled scheme that aggressively seeks to suffocate defenses with creative blitz packages. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed may be the two most instinctive players in the league and combine with Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and Bernard Pollard to bring Baltimore one of the league’s top two most intimidating, physical units. The Jets have a better collection of young talent, are more creatively coordinated and feature a cornerback in a class of his own in Darrelle Revis. The tide is turning toward the Jets, especially given Suggs’ Achilles injury.”
Senior editor Mike Wilkening:
"I’ll give a slight, slight edge to the Jets. New York has the game’s best cornerback in Darrelle Revis and numerous other difference-makers throughout the defense. The Ravens’ defense will be formidable to start the season even without OLB Terrell Suggs (Achilles), but it will not be as strong. In my view, these are two of the NFL’s top five defenses."
Senior producer Adam Anshell:
“This is a pretty tough first-round matchup. For years we've been waiting and predicting this Raven defense to take a step back, but it just hasn't happened. I don't expect 2012 to be any different. Even without Terrell Suggs, I think the Ravens will find other ways to get after the QB and continue to rank near the top of the league in total defense. The Jets' defense took a significant step back last year in points allowed, but I expect them to correct that — just not enough to top this Raven squad. Baltimore advances with just a slight edge.”
Producer Mark Schoeck:
“For those looking to make the argument that Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are in the twilight of their careers: save it. We’re comparing these veterans to the Jets’ players, not to their younger selves. Lewis and Reed are still among the top five players at their respective positions, while Ngata and Suggs are in the argument for the best at their respective positions. The Jets, on the other hand, have only one elite player in Darrelle Revis. Talent and production fall to the Ravens here, as should the fans’ votes.”