The "Defense Wins Championships" narrative is back in vogue after the high scoring Denver Broncos were shellacked by the Seattle Seahawks, 43-8. While I agree that having a good defense helps your chances to win, you still need to be able to put points on the board, and many NFL rules favor the offensive side of the ball these days.
The Legion Of Boom secondary in Seattle was put together to slow down the big receivers that are having their way in the NFL. The 6'4" wide outs and the 6'5" tight ends have been wreaking havoc on secondaries that had to be wary of pass interference and illegal contact. Seattle has big defensive backs to press and jam receivers to disrupt the timing of offenses. Once the timing is off, Seattle's talented group of pass rushers will get in the quarterback's face causing a quick throw to the now discombobulated receivers, or they'll get home for the sack.
The Seahawk hybrid defense seems to be the flavor of the month, but they aren't doing anything extraordinary. Their schemes aren't revolutionizing the way football is played, they are just getting after the QB and playing hard physical defense.
Just because defense prevailed last night, that doesn't necessarily make that the new normal.
Let's take a look at some of the recent Super Bowl winners.
* Just a season ago, the 3rd ranked defense of the San Francisco 49ers had 34 points scored on them by the 16th ranked offense of the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens had the #17 D in 2012 by the way. Offense wins championships?
* In 2011 the Super Bowl winning New York Giants did have a higher ranked defense than the runner up New England Patriots, but neither were very good. N.Y. had the 27th ranked D, and N.E. was 31st. Would you consider their 27th ranked D as the reason why the Giants won the Super Bowl?
* In Super Bowl XLIV, the 18th ranked defense of the Indianapolis Colts lost to the 25th ranked D of the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans did have the #1 offense in the NFL in 2009 though. Offense wins Championships again?
* The 2008 Steelers, owners of the #1 defense in the NFL, knocked off the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. Yay! Defense Wins Championships!
* The first Giants vs Patriots Super Bowl from the 2007 season pitted the 4th ranked Pats D against the 7th ranked Giants D. The G-Men came out on top, as their D stymied the #1 New England offense. Statistically speaking the Patriots defense was a bit better that season, but the lower ranked D won this contest.
* And lest we forget the 2006 season that featured the 5th ranked Chicago Bears Tampa 2 defense going up against the 3rd ranked Peyton Manning led Indianapolis Colts offense. We all remember who won that game. Indy gave up the 21st most yards that season, while the Bears' offense ranked 15th. Defense didn't win that championship either.
I really do wish the Defense Wins Championship mantra held true, then we'd have a two time Super Bowl champion in Chicago.
I'm not saying that defenses can't win championships, because there have been a few offensively inept teams that have found a way to win. But more often than not, especially in this era, you need a solid offense to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
There's simply no clear cut formula in the last eight years that guarantees playoff success. Some good offenses have won and some good defenses have won, but to be crowned champion it takes more than being good on one side of the ball.
In my opinion, the great teams that have some semblance of balance, are who wins titles these days.
To do what the Seattle Seahawks did on defense in this day and age makes them one of the all time best defenses in the history of the NFL. Statistically they fall short of the iconic '85 Bears, the Steel Curtain Steelers teams, or the 2000 Ravens, but they were far and away the best D in 2013.
Here's the six categories where the Seahawks' defense led the NFL in 2013.
Points allowed per game: 14.4
Yards allowed per game: 273.6
Passer rating allowed: 63.4
Yards allowed per play: 4.42
Big plays (20-plus yards) allowed: 36
While those numbers fall short of the historically all time great defenses, in this era it's downright dominant.
Seattle rode their top ranked defense to a title, but along the way their offense carved out their own identity. Russell Wilson is a dynamic play making quarterback that is also safe with the ball. Running back Marshawn Lynch and a very good offensive line helped them to the 4th ranked rushing offense in the NFL.
Their playoff run saw them score nine touchdowns and eight field goals to five TDs and 1 FG for their opponents. Those are scoring numbers of a well balanced team.
Seattle had great defense last season, that's for sure, but that's not all they were. The Seattle Seahawks were just a damn good football team from top to bottom.
To bring this back around to the Chicago Bears, they obviously will need to improve their defense if they expect to be a legitimate threat for a championship in 2014, but they haven't fallen behind the trends of the NFL.
The fear that's surrounding Chicago talk radio is that this Bears team will be the mirror image of the Lovie Smith teams. People are afraid that under Marc Trestman the Bears will be a top offense, but also a bottom ranked defense.
It wasn't like Bears GM Phil Emery ignored the defense in 2013. He thought he upgraded the linebacker position, he wasn't expecting the defensive tackle position to be riddled with injuries, and he also wasn't expecting two of his Pro Bowl defensive players to miss significant time. But to build the depth of a roster takes more than two years.
Emery will be back at it this off season and he will attempt to bridge the gap between his offense and his defense. He'll have some critical contract decisions to make in the next few weeks, but he has a plan in place.
I would love for the Bears to have a smash-mouth defense, but that's not how this current team is built. A team can win in today's NFL with a good offense and a middle of the pack defense, and that's exactly what the Bears should be shooting for.
Building a championship defense is a sound formula, but you still better be able to score some points.
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