Over recent years, defense has been a key factor in many teams’ success in the regular season and playoffs. In the present-day NFL, without a defense, you can’t win games. One of the most important position groups in the whole NFL is pass rushers. Pass rushers are the key players on defense. They pressure and sack the quarterback. Through pressures, they limit the quarterback from making plays, but most importantly they force the quarterback to make erratic throws. These throws could kindly end up in the safeties and corners hands, meaning the offense could get back onto the field. I will be going over the five best pass rush duos.
Many teams succeed with one great pass rusher, but others succeed even more because they have a pass rush duo. With a duo, it is hard for teams to cover both great players, thus leaving a favorable one-on-one matchup for the defense. As stated before, a handful of teams are lucky to have a great pass rush duo. Here are the top five current pass rush duos in the National Football League including some honorable mentions.
Top Five Best Pass Rush Duos In The NFL
For this list, I only had five pass rush duos, but in total, I considered 7 pass rush duos. The duos not included in this list are the Joey Bosa/Melvin Ingram duo and the Shaquil Barrett/Jason Pierre-Paul duo. In this list, I not only included outside linebackers but also defensive ends. I ranked these duos based on their consistency, statistics such as sacks and hurries, and finally their impact on the team.
Number Five: T.J. Watt/Bud Dupree
The Pittsburgh Steelers‘ defensive success is accredited to the likes of Minkah Fitzpatrick and T.J. Watt. T.J. Watt is the first half of the pass rush duo. Last season, he had a Defensive Player of the Year-caliber season. He had 14.5 sacks which were fifth in the league, 55 combined tackles, two interceptions, 14 tackles for loss, and he was first in the league with eight forced fumbles. Going more in-depth, Watt had a 28% pass rush win rate which was second among all defensive ends/outside linebackers. Additionally, he had the sixth-most quarterback hurries with 23 and had 59 quarterback pressures which were most in the league. His play and stats show that he is a hard-working, do-it-all player on that Steelers defense.
The other half of this duo is the 27-year-old Bud Dupree. Dupree had himself a breakout year with 11.5 sacks, 68 combined tackles, four forced fumbles which were sixth in the league, and 16 tackles for loss which were fifth in the league. The concern with him is that before last season, he didn’t play that well. Some people were close to calling him a bust. I don’t know if he can be consistent enough to repeat last season. This duo isn’t higher up on this list for that reason.
Number Four: Za’Darius Smith/Preston Smith
Last season, the Green Bay Packers had a monstrous pash rush duo that was all over the quarterback almost every play. Although both played well, Za’Darius Smith was the leader in that duo. Za’Darius had a career year with 13.5 sacks which ranked sixth in the league, he also had 55 combined tackles and an impressive 17 tackles for loss which ranked fourth in the league. Although he didn’t have a lot of hurries, he had the fifth-most quarterback pressures at 50.
Za’Darius’s brother, Preston, also had a career year with 12 sacks and 56 combined tackles. This duo combined for an amazing 25.5 sacks. They are the only duo on the list that were both in the top 10 for sacks and in the top ten for pass rush win rate. The brothers both had a 23% pass rush win rate which is very impressive. They would have been higher on this list, but consistency is an issue. As stated before, these were career years for both brothers, so it’s hard to predict if they can repeat last season’s play.
The San Francisco 49ers had a dominant defense last season, thanks to the front seven that included Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. With Bosa and Ford, it’s not all about the stats, it is their in-game explosiveness. Nick Bosa turned up the heat in the right moments in each game. Focusing back on the stats, Nick Bosa had a great rookie year. He had nine sacks, 47 combined tackles, 16 tackles for loss which ranked eighth in the league, and one interception. His 25 quarterback hits, 24 quarterback hurries, and 45 quarterback pressures all ranked top-ten in the league in their respective categories and they exemplify his in-game explosiveness. Most importantly, Nick Bosa is only 22 years old meaning he has time to improve and the sky’s the limit for him.
Bosa’s partner in crime is Dee Ford. Ford didn’t have a special season. He only had 14 combined tackles, 6.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles, but that is because he only played 11 games and started two of them. On the other side though, a healthy Dee Ford can have over ten sacks, over 50 combined tackles, and over five forced fumbles, so the potential is there. I expect a leap from Nick Bosa and I expect a healthy Dee Ford which should help the 49ers in their super bowl contention.
Number Two: Khalil Mack/Robert Quinn
The Chicago Bears already had a great pass rusher in the five-time pro bowler and one-time defensive player of the year Khalil Mack, but they added a much needed second great pass rusher in Robert Quinn. Khalil Mack is regarded as one of the best players in the league, but he had a down year by his standards. He had 8.5 sacks, 47 combined tackles, eight tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles. He did have 30 quarterback hurries which were second in the league and 45 quarterbacks pressures which were seventh in the league. It is no secret Mack had a down year because he had no pass-rushing help. On almost all plays he was double-teamed and sometimes triple-teamed.
The addition of Robert Quinn will be a great help to Mack. Quinn had a solid season with 34 combined tackles, 11.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. Most importantly is that he had a 33% pass rush win rate which is the highest in the league. Mack will get help from him as teams will not be able to double team Mack, because that would leave Quinn open. I expect Mack to have a fantastic bounce-back year and for Quinn to have a solid season. I predict they combine for 26 sacks and eight forced fumbles. This duo will most definitely frighten opposing quarterbacks and will be a key factor in the Bears playoff contention.
Number One: Von Miller/Bradley Chubb
The Denver Broncos have a bright future as they have a future Hall of Famer and one of the most promising pass rushers in the league in Bradley Chubb. Starting with Von Miller, many people believe he is washed up especially after a down year in which he only had eight sacks, 46 combined tackles, and zero forced fumbles. He had a down year because he had no pass-rushing help coming off the other edge because Bradley Chubb was out for 12 games. The difference between Von Miller’s statistics and play when Bradley Chubb is on the field with him versus when he isn’t is absolutely crazy. In 2018, when Von Miller was on the field with Bradley Chubb for all 16 games, Miller had 14.5 sacks, 48 combined tackles, and four forced fumbles.
Speaking of Bradley Chubb, he had a monster rookie season in 2018. In 2018, Chubb had 12 sacks, 60 combined tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 21 quarterback hits. When he and Miller are healthy, they are the most dominant pass rush duo in the league. If everything goes well, I predict that they combine for 28 sacks, six forced fumbles, and over 105 combined tackles. They will be key contributors to that Broncos defense and to their playoff contention.
Five Best Pass Rush Duos Recap
As stated before, the defense is key to a team’s success. Pass rushers are probably the most important factors on that defense. They just collapse on the quarterback, which prevents plays and they force quarterbacks to make bad throws which could possibly lead to turnovers. The teams that have the best pass rush duos going from five to one are the Steelers, Packers, 49ers, Bears, and the Broncos. These duos listed above have such a great impact and importance that their teams’ playoff contention relies on their performance.
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