Written by: Cody Manning
The Denver Broncos won a Super Bowl a few years ago, and a big part of that victory was their top pass rush duo of Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. The two single-handedly disrupted Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game and went on to give Cam Newton fits in the Super Bowl. This just shows how important it is to get pressure on the opposing quarterback and why teams pay a premium for the best pass rushers in the business. I look at some of the best ones paired up for the 2018 NFL season.
1. Los Angeles Chargers — Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram
The Chargers have the best pass rush duo in the league in Bosa and Ingram. The two have blossomed into the players the organization drafted them to be. In 2017, they both wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks as they combined for 23 sacks. With the rise of the young duo, the team has a lot of confidence in their defense for the upcoming season. I believe that Bosa is a candidate to have a Defensive MVP-type year in 2018. If he can excel in his third season and Ingram continues to show improvement, then maybe they could help bring Philip Rivers to his elusive first Super Bowl.
2. Houston Texans — J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney
The Texans arguably have the most talented pass rush duo in the NFL, but with their injury history, it is hard for me to rank them on top of my list. The pair has been in Houston for four years now, and we have yet to see the two on the field for a full season. Watt dominated while Clowney dealt with injuries during his first two seasons. Watt, unfortunately, suffered back-to-back season-ending injuries since Clowney has been healthy. Clowney has shown he can live up to his potential, so if they both can remain healthy quarterbacks will be having nightmares when preparing to face the Houston defense in 2018.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars — Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue
The Jacksonville’s defense took the NFL over in 2017 and earned the nickname “Sacksonville” because of its success. Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue were a big part of the reason that Jacksonville ended its ten year playoff drought and was a game away from the Super Bowl. The two of them combined for 26.5 sacks last year. The defense should continue to dominate offenses in 2018 and the duo should see plenty of opportunities to make a play on the quarterback. Campbell, Ngakoue, and the rest of the Jaguars’ defense will continue to be a problem for the rest of the league.
4. Denver Broncos — Von Miller and Bradley Chubb
The Broncos have been looking for Von Miller’s tag team partner since DeMarcus Ware’s retirement. They drafted Shane Ray, but he has failed to meet expectations as the organization didn’t pick up his 5th-year option on his rookie contract. In this year’s draft, Denver spent the 5th overall pick on Bradley Chubb. Chubb posted back-to-back 10 sack seasons in his last couple of years at N.C. State, and the highly talented rookie should be able to feast and take advantage of being across from Miller. If Chubb can have a fast translation to the next level, then the duo will be a headache for offensive coordinators throughout the upcoming season.
5. Oakland Raiders — Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin
Oakland’s pass rush duo was one of the few positive things about their 2017 season. Both Mack and Irvin did their best to make the defense competitive as they went on to combine for 18.5 sacks. They will have a major impact on the team’s success this year. Oakland must try to get Mack’s contract situation figured out so it doesn’t linger around the beginning of the season. With the AFC West featuring pass-heavy offenses, it is important that the team has Mack and Irvin ready to roll Week 1. The duo needs to step it up in 2018 as people had high expectations when they were paired up. The Raiders’ season may depend on it.
The Minnesota Vikings have one of the more underrated pass rush duos in the NFL. Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter have been on quarterbacks’ heels over the past few seasons. The two have combined for 57 sacks since 2015, and Griffen is recognized as one of the best defensive ends in the game today. Hunter is an up and coming player who has progressed as fast as the organization hoped he would. Vikings defense should dominate once again in 2018 with the two of them chasing quarterbacks all over the field.
The Philadelphia Eagles will continue to get after the quarterback in 2018. They are more of a unit than a duo. Brandon Graham will get help from Derek Barnett and Michael Bennett. I believe Graham will continue to dominate and be a problem for tackles, while Barnett and Bennett will have moments throughout the season where they are making big contributions. Barnett has the potential to grow into a bigger role, and if that happens, he and Graham can team up to be one of the better duos in the NFL.
The Arizona Cardinals entered last year with one of the better pass rush duos in the league. Chandler Jones and Markus Golden combined for 23.5 sacks (league-high) in 2016, so people had high expectations for the two. Unfortunately, Golden suffered a season-ending injury in Week 4 in 2017. If he can stay healthy and return to the player we saw a couple of years ago, then the defense should see an overall boost. The Cardinals hope that they can get the duo back to what they were back in 2016.
The New Orleans Saints shocked everyone when they traded up during the first round of this year’s draft to select Marcus Davenport. The highly talented but raw rookie has tons of potential to succeed at the next level. Cameron Jordan is already one of the better defensive ends in the league. If Davenport produces right away, the Saints could quickly have one of the top pass rush duos in the NFL.