2013 Seahawks vs 2000 Ravens. Which Defense Has The Edge?

Featured, Sports and Bets — February 6, 2014 at 10:31 pm by

It was an epic performance by the Legion of Boom last Sunday in the Super Bowl.  It was a performance that put them in the conversation with the best defenses of all time; a debate that includes the ’76 Steelers, the ’85 Bears, and our ’00 Ravens.  It’s nearly impossible to really judge one against the other, mainly because they played in four different decades.  But in today’s NFL with the passing game being the way it is, and with the rules so heavily favoring the offense, and considering the fact that the Seahawks were facing what many consider the best passing offense of all time, Seattle’s performance comes across as awfully impressive.    

  But the fact that the Seahawks kicked major ass a week ago and the fact that their performance is so fresh in our minds doesn’t automatically make them the best defense ever.  Fact is, like we alluded to before, it’s near impossible to pick the best ever;  it’s just too damn arbitrary, and it involves too much personal bias. So we’re willing to say that of all the aforementioned teams, the ’85 Bears and the ’78 Steelers were the best pre-free agency and pre-salary cap defenses of the Super Bowl era.  Fair?  We think so.  That leaves us with one other team to compare Seattle to; the team we know best around here, the 2000 Ravens.  So here’s what we’ll do. We’re going to stack the defenses by position groups and give our opinion on which group is better between the Ravens and Seahawks.  We feel that is a realistic way of structuring the argument.

First the Stats:

The ’00 Ravens allowed 165 points (10.3 per game) which ranked 1st that season and is best all time.

The ’00 Ravens were #8 versus the pass in yardage and  #1 versus the run.

The ’13 Seahawks allowed 231 points (14.4 per game) which ranked 4th that season.

The ’13 Seahawks were #1 versus the pass in yardage and #7 versus the run.

Defensive Line:  Edge Ravens

Tackles:  Red Bryant/Brandon Mebane/Tony McDaniel vs.  Sam Adams/Tony Siragusa

Now keep in mind that while both the Ravens and the Seahawks played a 4-3 defense, the Seattle front seven is in constant situational flux with players like Bryant and Mebane playing outside and inside on the line depending on the situation.  But it doesn’t matter who they put on the interior, they won’t stack up to the Ravens duo of Goose and Adams, who were absolutely unmovable forces in the run game. Ray Lewis got to run around and tackle behind those two behemoths all season long. 

Ends: Cliff Avril/Michael Bennett/Chris Clemmons  vs  Michael McCreary/Rob Burnett

This is a push.  Bennett led the way in sacks for the Hawks with 8.5 and Avril was right behind him with 8.  Rob Burnett led the Ravens with 10.5 sacks and McCreary had 6.5 from the other side. Clemmons, who is also a feared pass rusher, tips the scales towards Seattle, but Burnett was an impenetrable wall in the run game and that evens things out in our mind on the outside.  Add the tackles and ends up and it’s a win for the Ravens.  On a side note, it’s weird that Burnett’s season tends to get overlooked over when discussions about the 2000 Ravens come up; it shouldn’t, he had a monster year.

Linebacker: Edge Ravens

Bruce Irvin/Bobby Wagner/Malcolm Smith vs Peter Boulware/Ray Lewis/Jamie Sharper

At linebacker the Ravens clearly have the advantage.  Ray Lewis is the best middle linebacker to ever play the game.  His notched 103 tackles in 2000 to go along with 3 sacks and 2 picks. The Ravens also had Jaime Sharper at Will linebacker, who was dominant playing alongside Ray.  We would soon come to realize that Ray could make even an average linebacker playing next to him look elite, but Sharper may have been the best Will to play with Ray, as evidenced by the fact that when he left via the expansion draft, he became a tackling machine for the Texans.   Seattle’s crew of Bobby Wagner and Malcolm Smith are young and still up and coming, but they’re nowhere near what the Ravens had.  Wagner did have a stellar year collecting 89 tackles and 5 sacks, but he doesn’t possess the sideline to sideline speed that Lewis had. It is interesting that Smith and Lewis are two of only three linebackers to ever win the Super Bowl MVP. 

Peter Boulware is also a much better player than Bruce Irvin at the rush linebacker position.  Boulware had 7 sacks in 2000 and was an offensive coordinator’s matchup nightmare.  Burnett and McCreary were formidable rushers, but teams made sure they accounted for Boulware first when dialing up their pass protections.  Irvin doesn’t inspire that kind of fear, period.

Secondary: Edge Seahawks

Richard Sherman/Byron Maxwell/Earl Thomas/Kam Chancellor  vs  Chris McCallister/Duane Starks/Rod Woodson/Kim Herring

  In the secondary I think this one is quite clear.  The Legion of Boom has a significant edge over CMac, Duane Starks, Kim Herring, and an older Rod Woodson.  This group more than held their own though, the Ravens picked off 26 passes on the season.  It was a great unit but Seattle’s secondary may eventually rank as a top 5 secondary of all time.  Sherman, who led the team with 8 picks, Byron Maxwell, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor are young and only getting better.  The safeties, Thomas and Chancellor are the best in football.  Chancellor is an old school thumper who levels receivers and running backs.  Thomas may be even more gifted than the shut-down corner known as Richard Sherman. Without Thomas, Seattle couldn’t realistically even run their defense the way they want to, he makes the whole thing go. It will be a very scary for the rest of the league if Seattle can somehow keep this group together for a few more years.

The Overall Edge: 2000 Ravens

So there you have it.  Based on the fact that the Ravens had the better front seven, and based on the fact that they hold the single season scoring record, we’ll give the edge to the Ravens.  (No bias babes)

 Make your own decision to which group as a whole is better.  Chime in on the comment section, or vote in the poll below, and let us know your opinion.

Who you got in the better defense argument?

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