In the modern NFL offense is king. Flashy plays, diva wide receivers, star quarterbacks these are the things that grab national headlines. This is by design however as rules have changed to allow offensive players to flourish while frankly punishing defensive players. An example of this is pass interference calls. It is far more likely for the defensive player to be called for defensive pass interference on a 50-50 ball than the offensive player. It is also difficult to hit quarterbacks. Nowadays whenever a defensive player sacks the quarterback or even hits him outside the pocket, my first reaction is to wait for the flag rather than to celebrate a successful defensive play. So with all those hurdles that defensive players face, and with all the advantages that offensive players now have it seems like defense isn’t as important as it was in say the seventies with the vaunted defense of the Steelers and the Cowboys. In fact defense is as important as it has ever been. Even with all the rule changes that help the offense it is still easier to win with a good defense and a bad offense than the other way around, because a bad defense will make the good offense work twice as hard.
There is a recent example of this when the Browns visited the Cowboys. Dak Prescott, the Cowboys quarterback, threw for 502 yards and four touchdowns. The Cowboys lost that game. The Browns rushed for 307 yards on the Cowboys defense that couldn’t stop anything, so Prescott had to try and make up a three touchdown difference in the final minutes of the game. Prescott is no stranger to having to put on last minute heroics as he has had to so in the three games previously as well, so much so that he already has 1,690 passing yards in only four games. The Cowboys defense has given up 146 points in four games, which put into perspective puts them to be on pace for the worst scoring defense in team history according to yahoo sports and has the led the team to a 1-3 record. Let’s assume Prescott had an even average defense, with the numbers he is putting up the Cowboys should have an undefeated record.
To go even further the vast majority of teams that win the Super Bowl have a top ranked defense rather than a top ranked offense. According to a post by Reddit user AFCFinalistsColts in the past twenty five years five teams have won with a vastly better defense than offense with the 2015 Broncos being the biggest gap with a 24 ranked offense being carried by the number one defense compared to just four with a vastly superior offense to defense. To go even further the teams that were more balanced, as there were more of those than either, still had more examples of having a better defense or a defense in the top five. The 2010 Packers being the balanced example that most catches my eye as the team was ranked eighth offensively but first defensively. I could go even further back, but suffice it to say the old adage defense wins championships seems to hold more clout than people realize. I’m interested to hear what you the reader thinks about this. You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.