ESPN’s John Clayton has ranked the top five defensive coordinators in the NFL, and Steelers defensive genius Dick LeBeau tops the list. Here’s Clayton’s list, along with a little breakdown on the five:
1. Dick LeBeau, Pittsburgh Steelers — He created the 3-4 defense, and even though he’s in his 70s, he’s inventive. LeBeau is coming off back-to-back seasons in which the Steelers finished No. 1 on defense. He’s the current king.
2. Jim Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles — Andy Reid and Eagles fans are praying Johnson can kick his bout with cancer and return. He’s currently on a leave of absence and is confined to a wheelchair. On the sideline, Johnson is a master of timely blitzes and great calls.
3. Dean Pees, New England Patriots — Sure, Bill Belichick is the real genius of the Patriots’ defense, but somebody has to coordinate it. Pees took over after Eric Mangini left for the Jets, and the Patriots have finished sixth, fourth and 10th on defense under him. He’s doing something right.
4. Ron Rivera, San Diego Chargers — Rivera was a rising star when he was a coordinator for the Super Bowl runner-up Chicago Bears in 2006. Since then, he has reinvented himself in San Diego by learning the 3-4 and re-emerging in the middle of the last season as the Chargers’ coordinator.
5. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings — Frazier went to the Vikings after working with Tony Dungy in Indianapolis. He’s developing a defense in Minnesota that is impossible to run against and can bring the heat in passing situations.
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