Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks knows the ins and outs of this league, providing keen insight in his notebook. In today’s installment, he spotlights eight units poised to make serious noise in the coming season.
Every January, the NFL playoffs are dotted with teams that have made a significant improvement on one side of the ball. Whether it’s an offensive revolution sparked by the emergence of a dynamic quarterback or a defensive flourish fueled by the formation of a ferocious front, postseason tournament bids often spawn from one rising unit inducing the transition from pretender to contender.
As a scout with the Carolina Panthers in the 2000s, I watched a perennial underdog suddenly make a Super Bowl run behind a substantially improved defense. Driven by a mix of blue-chippers and no-names playing outstanding football from Week 1 on, Carolina’s D battered and bruised opponents with an ultra-physical approach. The core of that group was a nasty front seven featuring Julius Peppers, Kris Jenkins, Mike Rucker, Dan Morgan and Mike Minter (in a box-safety role).