Nothing can wreck devastation on an NFL offense more than a pass rush. Which ones could be the very best in 2014?
Von Miller and Demarcus Ware – Denver Broncos
On paper this new duo looks devastating. Von Miller in his prime and the ever-effective veteran Demarcus Ware joining forces. Granted, there are a lot of questions to sort through. Can Miller stay healthy and out of trouble? Is Ware getting a little too old? Valid points. At the same time, both have never been able to play across from a player of each others’ caliber before. Combine that with the likelihood of see a lot of leads courtesy of Peyton Manning and these two could wreck havoc for the Denver Broncos.
J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney – Houston Texans
The potential of this pairing is downright ludicrous. J.J. Watt by himself is probably the best pass rusher in the entire NFL. Now throw in Jadeveon Clowney, arguably the most freakishly athletic specimen to come out of college in a decade and the Houston Texans have the makings of a true unstoppable pass rush. Obviously Clowney has some issues to work through, namely his health and questions of his motor. Still, with Watt there to guide him there is no reason to think he can’t adapt quickly. If they even reach a third of their potential together, quarterbacks everywhere will cower in fear.
Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers – Green Bay Packers
It’s really hard to bet against two players who have 12 Pro Bowls between them. Indeed there is no question the pairing of Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers has a chance to take offenses by storm. However, it’s important to note some things have to go in their favor. Matthews must get over recent health issues. He has missed ten games over the past three seasons with a variety of ailments. Peppers must prove he can play at his customary level despite being 34-years old and coming off an underwhelming final season in Chicago. It’s a lot to ask for, but the Packers have a history of making it work.
Robert Quinn and Chris Long – St. Louis Rams
It was one of the best NFL groups in 2013 and should be again this season. Robert Quinn has evolved into one of the best pure quarterback killers in the game, posting 19 sacks last year alone. His wingman Chris Long proved an able supported with 8.5 of his own. Each is still under the age of 30 and have help coming in the guise of rookie defensive tackle Aaron Donald, viewed as the best interior pass rusher coming out of college. His presence could create even more opportunities for Quinn and Long, which might be misconstrued as unfair.
Tamba Hali and Justin Houston – Kansas City Chiefs
There were more than two players who made the defense of the Kansas City Chiefs so effective in 2013, but the core of that success came from the disruptive ability of outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Together they posted 22 sacks last season, and that was with Houston missing five games and Hali missing one. How much better could they be if they can complete a full campaign together? That is what the Chiefs want to find out and the rest of the NFL doesn’t.