How much will the defense improve?
If we take an honest look at the secondary, it isn’t horrible, but it is paper-thin.
It appears that an offseason with Aaron Glenn is agreeing with Jeff Okudah, although he still has to show it on the field. The battle between Amani Oruwariye and Quinton Dunbar on the other side is actually good. Oruwariye has improved over each of the last two seasons and seems to be on track to be pretty good. If Dunbar beats him out we should take that as a good sign for having some talent on the corner.
Tracy Walker’s comfort zone with Glenn and this new defense has become very evident over this offseason. I expect him to be very solid at least, if not bordering on being an impact player.
The other safety is a question mark. Dean Marlowe has been around and is certainly serviceable, but not spectacular. Will Harris has not shown us anything despite athletic ability and a hard-hitting attitude. Can Glenn get more out of him?
Rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu has been lined up at cornerback this offseason, but his real home might just be at safety. This will play itself out one way or another. Melifonwu is too talented not to be able to contribute, but if he struggles at corner don’t be surprised if he gets time back at safety.
Nickel cornerback Corn Elder is probably the best of the rest in the secondary.
It isn’t the worst secondary in the league, but there are certainly questions to be answered and a run of injuries would absolutely be disastrous.
Quite frankly when the defense is as bad as it was last year, improvement should be the given, but there are reasons to believe there will be legitimate improvement that can be built upon in coming seasons.
I think just the fact that there is a new aggressive system alone should mean improvement for the defense, but the coaching change seems to be the X-factor. If Aaron Glenn and his defensive assistants can get through to this group of players then there could be a fairly sizeable improvement from last season.
How much will the defense improve? We won’t truly know until November or December when the players should be used to the system and start to really show the benefits of the new coaching staff.
The defensive line won’t make anyone forget the Steel Curtain, but it has enough talent to be disruptive. The secondary will benefit from the play up front and the pass defense should take a big step forward.
The rush defense is a bigger concern to me because of the state of flux at linebacker. If Aaron Glenn’s mix and match approach works then it could be better than expected.
The defense will definitely be improved. It’s not going to be ready to challenge for any titles yet, but it should resemble an NFL defense, be fairly competitive, and look much better than what we have seen over the last few seasons.