DL: nobody has really stood out, but as a group, have been very solid and if they weren't getting the job done upfront, the rest of the unit would not be playing at a high level. Jean-Francois has looked very good, Redding isn't playing like a guy in year #13,Kerr has been a real find-the rotation would have been alot thinner without his production, with Moala out and Jones-who was the big off season addition, missing most of the year-so far and having very little production. Same can be said about the inside rotation of Chapman and Hughes, the highlight reels plays have been few and far between, but they have been solid
(-) As good as they have played, Jones was supposed to be the key and he hasn't played much
LB: The 2 inside guys, Jackson and Freeman have played very well, Jackson has been a difference maker, Freeman has missed some time and hasn't played up to the level he had been...yet. With Mathis out, Walden and Werner really needed to step up, Walden has been better, it took Werner a few games to get going, but has played alot better since, Newsome has been getting more reps and has really stepped up, Studabaker has been solid as a backup, McNary has a specific skill set that is valuable, but struggled as a full time player, filling in when Freeman was out
(-) missing Mathis who was the 1 big time player we had on defense has been a huge loss
DB: Davis is playing as good as any CB in the league, has been a shut down corner and has also been a force in the run game, that would make him elite and there are not many of them around. Toler has been very good and as a duo, maybe the best in the NFL, Butler is a very good and very valuable #3 CB and is the best playmaker in the secondary, Gordy is solid. The Safety position has been solid as well, despite alot of uncertainty. Landry, who was signed to be a difference maker, has been a huge disapointment, with injuries, suspensions and inconsistent play. Adams has played very well and above what anybody could have expected, Brown has also played very well and brings a different skill set to the secondary, when he is in there
Summary: overall, they have played very well, the meltdown in Pittsburg is puzzling, but it is a long season and sometimes things defy logic (most times) Werner leads the team with 4 sacks, Redding,Jackson, Newsome, Walden and Kerr, all have 3. Jackson is 4th in the AFC in tackles (70) Adams is 2nd on the team with 44. #2 in passing defense, #12 in rushing defense and #6 in total defense. Manusky deserves a,lot of credit, for getting this undermanned unit playing at this level...with Mathis and Jones missing, the 2 biggest pieces and Landry underperforming ( again) the have played very good team defense, with all 11 guys doing their part. As has been the case for the last at least the last 16 years, they do not have to dominate, with an explosive offense, they just have to be good,if they play above that, even better.
Special teams: how many times has this happened? ELITE! the kicking game has always been very good and this year-great, McAfee has finally taken his game to an elite level, that has been predicted for several years, he is 2nd in the AFC in net punting, 1st in touchbacks (on kickoffs) has mastered the onside kick and can tackle!! Adam is 2nd in the AFC in field goals and hasn't missed a kick, all year. The coverage units, for the first time (in my lifetime?) has been great
(-) Whalen needs to go.....I like him and he does have good hands, which is why he is there, but I really think you need an explosive player, as a returner, if you really want that to be a productive position, unless that guy who has explosivness, doesn't have good hands
In probably the weakest division in the NFL, a division title, is pretty much a given, when it comes to the postseason, anything can and usually does happen, it usually takes a few shots at the playoffs/championship games, to get a team ready for the the big one, but as I said, logic, no longer exists in today's NFL and more than ever.......on any given sunday.........................