View Full Version : Troy Aikman: I know a tough defense when I see one

10-13-2010, 08:41 PM
The team I always hated to play against was the Eagles. I still remember my first game against Philadelphia: Thanksgiving Day, 1989. They had Reggie White, Clyde Simmons, Jerome Brown, Seth Joyner, Eric Allen, Andre Waters ... I still can almost name their entire starting defense.

I dropped back to pass on one play and Reggie broke through the line. I rolled out to the right, and he caught me from behind. That's when I realized this is a different game we're playing here when a 300-pound man can run me down from behind.

I thought they were going to have to put me in a body cast after that game. They X-rayed both of my knees, my shoulder and my ribs. The good news was nothing was broken. The bad news was I had to play Philadelphia again two weeks later.

The Eagles never were a defense I looked forward to playing against. If I were playing today, these are the defenses I would most hate to face:

1. Baltimore Ravens. After three weeks, they were ranked No. 1 in overall defense and in third-down situations and were second in red-zone defense. They're a different group than the one I played against in 2000—except for Ray Lewis. He's still there, and he's still playing at a high level. I've never seen him when he didn't play well. At his age, 35, it's remarkable.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers. They create so many problems with Troy Polamalu, the linebackers, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, and all the different combinations they bring with their 3-4 scheme. Right now, they're playing lights out. Through three games, they were ranked No. 1 in scoring defense, yards allowed per play and takeaways. You could argue that they have the best defense in the league.

3. Green Bay Packers. They were outstanding last year, their first season playing Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme, and look like they're even better this year. Charles Woodson, last year's defensive player of the year, reminds me a little of Lewis; he just keeps getting better. And I really enjoy watching Clay Matthews, their second-year linebacker. He never quits or takes a play off.

4. Tennessee Titans. Even though they lost two of their stalwarts, linebacker Keith Bulluck and end Kyle Vanden Bosch, in the offseason, they still have one of the most dominating, physical defenses in the league. Their identity is tied directly to their coach, Jeff Fisher, who is from the Buddy Ryan defensive tree. Fisher always is going to find a way to hit the quarterback.

5. (tie) Minnesota Vikings. They are so good at getting after the quarterback and shutting down the run. The No. 1 reason I'd hate to play against them is their pass rush. I especially like Jared Allen and the relentless way he plays.

5. (tie) New York Jets. Last year, they ranked No. 1 overall, No. 1 against the pass and No. 8 against the run. Statistically, it was one of the best defensive performances in NFL history. They haven't been as dominant so far this season, but I believe they will turn that around, especially when Darrelle Revis gets healthy. Rex Ryan does a great job of moving players around and creating confusion in the offense's protection schemes. It's a challenge for a line and quarterback to sift through all the stuff he presents. It's not a defense I would look forward to playing against.

Read more: http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2 ... z12Hzsdq7J (http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2010-10-13/troy-aikman-i-know-a-tough-defense-when-i-see-one#ixzz12Hzsdq7J)