Dec 8, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; SSan Diego Chargers linebacker Thomas Keiser (90) and defensive end Corey Liuget (94) sack New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) in the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks recently created a list of the NFL’s top pass-rushing duos. He ranked Chiefs’ Tamba Hali/Justin Houston No. 1, followed by Rams’ Robert Quinn/Chris Long, Panthers’ Charles Johnson/Greg Hardy, Broncos’ DeMarcus Ware/Von Miller and Saints’ Cameron Jordan/Junior Galette.
Three players on the list (Quinn, Hardy and Jordan) ranked in the top five in sacks. Three teams who ended the year in the top five for total sacks-the Panthers (60), Rams (53) and Saints (49)-had players in Brooks’ list as well.
One duo who was not part of his list was Buffalo Bills’ Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes and Kyle Williams. Each player had at least 10 sacks, combining for 33.5. In comparison, the entire Chargers defense had a total of 35 sacks.
Some teams/players benefited from great play from the nose tackle position. Chiefs’ Dontari Poe is a perfect example. His 6-foot-3, 346 lb. body took a lot of pressure off Hali and Houston. The Panthers and Rams, who’s tandems played with their hand in the dirt, benefited from two defensive tackles like Star Lotulelei/Kawann Short (4.5 sacks, 78 tackles combined) and Michael Brockers/Kendall Langford (10.5 sacks, 85 tackles combined). As for others, it could have been the effective play-calling and nothing to do with a quality nose tackle. For example, Saints defensive tackle/nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley was graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 41 defensive tackle out of 69 qualifiers. Even though Bunkley battled through injuries, he had little to do with Jordan/Galette having great years.