1. Do we have the players to field a dominant defense? 2. Do you like our defensive system? 3. Do we value the correct positions on defense? 4. How close are we to be a dominating defense? My answers to those questions: 1. Do we have the players to field a dominant defense? I don’t think we do quite yet. Had Stephon Tuitt come back I think we would have been a lot closer. Starting with the defensive line. We have one player whom is a person of pedigree right now and he is 33 years old. We have a lot of depth but I believe we are another year away of developing Loudermilk and Leal and drafting or signing a top tier DE/DT to man Tuitts spot. We were last against the run last year. I don’t see us being elite against the run until we get some more pedigree on the defensive line. I like Alualu but he is coming off an injury, he is 35 years old and honestly he played only one year at the NT position for us. There are a lot of question marks with the defensive line. The linebackers also have a lot of question marks. TJ Watt is obviously the best at his position. Highsmith is developing and I believe he will be even better this year. The question marks are the inside linebackers. Is Jerry O the right Coach to develop and get the most out of these guys? Will Bush get back on track and reach his potential? If he does how do we resign him? Will Jack be like he was a few years ago or is he in the downward cycle of his career? What about the depth? Do any of the depth middle linebackers have the potential or will they only ever be special teams players? I feel like we have had a lot of depth here over the years but we never develop them. Is that a knock on the coaching or are we not drafting wisely? Will the inside linebackers simply improve with better defensive line play and coaching from Flores? The secondary has question marks but to me it also has an opportunity for the biggest improvement. Witherspoon I feel like never quite had the opportunity that he has had now with the Steelers. If he can play with confidence I feel like he can develop into a #1 CB for us. Levi Wallace is a solid CB who is sound in both coverage and against the run. Sutton is solid but not as good as Hilton especially against the run. If we can stay healthy at CB I feel like we have a chance to field a solid a group. The Safety position is essentially unchanged with the addition of experienced depth with Kazee and Norwood have a year under his belt. I feel like if the Defensive line improves and the MLB’s improve at run defense it will allow Minkah to play the pass more effectively allowing him to get back to the way he performed two years ago. The biggest add for the defensive backfield this year will be the added experience in nickel and dime and three safety looks. With Kazee playing straight up FS or a hybrid and Norwood playing the Slot it will allow us to additional things in coverage with Sutton and Minkah. 2. Do you like our defensive system? I like our defensive system, however I do feel like we give up a little from a gap integrity perspective with the traditional 2 DT in the Nickel or Dime vs. the old 3-4 Defensive alignment we used to run more often. I also believe that because it is such a pass oriented league we value the penetrating and quick defensive lineman as opposed to the big NT’s that tied up blockers. With that being said this type of defense puts a tremendous strain on the ILB’s. They have to be fast enough for coverage duties and strong enough and big enough to take on guards and centers to stuff the run. Those types of players are very hard to find. We thought we had that in Busch but I guess this season we will truly find out. I really believe we should have drafted a true thumper for the middle. I don’t believe Jack is a Thumper. If we can keep Jack and Busch clean then they can survive but our defensive line isn’t really asked to keep the ILB’s clean by maintaining blockers. Our Defensive lineman are asked to penetrate a gap. I Wish we mixed this up a little more and got some bigger bodies on the field more often if we are going to focus on having two ultra athletic inside linebackers. To me having a Wormley at DT and Busch at ILB right behind him is just inviting the offense to run right at that side of the defense. 3. Do we value the correct positions on defense? Well it is obvious we value Edge Rusher, Linebacker, Safety and DE/DT the most. Some teams are all about CB, DT/NT like Baltimore. I don’t mind the positions we value, I just wish we would value NT a little more or at least try to get a Derron Payne or something. If Winterspoon proves to only be a #2 CB then we have to go out and get a tru #1 CB next year in free agency. A shut down CB with our pass rush and Minkah at FS will put this defense in the elite category provided we fill the Tuitt position adequately. 4. How close are we to being a dominate defense. This one is simple. Busch reaches his potential. Watt and Heyward remain healthy and at the same level for the next three years. Witherspoon develops into a #1 CB and we fill Tuitts old spot with another great player. Obviously I doubt all of this happens. But If Jack can perform consistently to what he did a couple years ago in Jackonsville. We draft a stud at MLB to replace Busch next year. We go out and use the cap space to get a true #1 CB next in free agency and we pick up a comparable SS next year to complement Minkah. Finally with some luck Loudermilk or Leal reaches their ceiling next year ... then I think we will have a chance at being elite. For this to all happen we are gong to need some of these players to develop wether it be the CB’s or the young Defensive Lineman because we aren’t gong to be able to fill all of this expositions next year through free agency and the draft alone. The clearest route to me is if our CB’s that we have now pan out it will allow us to spend the money next year within the draft and free agency to solidify the defensive line and MLB. I feel like the next few years team building wise will be all about building up the lines on both sides of the ball. This is the speciality of the VP guy we got from Philadelphia this year who is second in command behind Khan.