Football Insiders NFL Midseason All Pro Team: Defense


The season is almost halfway over and it’s time to recognize those players for their accomplishments on both sides of the football.  We looked at the offense first, and now it’s time for the defense.

Defensive ends- J.J. Watt, Houston Texans; Chandler Jones, New England Patriots

J.J. Watt is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and despite teams scheming around him, he’s still tied for the league lead in sacks.  Watt’s play hasn’t fallen off, which is a testament to his unbelievable work ethic.  Watt would be the defensive player that every general manager would start his team with.

It’s hard to go unnoticed when you play for the New England Patriots, but Chandler Jones is one of the most underrated players in the NFL.  Jones is one of the best pass rushers in football, and he’s turning into a star before our eyes.

Defensive tackles- Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals; Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams

It’s great to see a healthy Geno Atkins, because a healthy Atkins is the best defensive tackle in the NFL.  Atkins has returned to his dominant form and leads all tackles in sacks with five.  He is the best player on an underrated Bengals defense that has carried the way in their perfect start.

Aaron Donald has kept up his dominant form from his rookie season in which he won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.  Donald not only stops the run, but he is a great penetrator and is able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Linebackers- Justin Houston, K.C. Chiefs; Aaron Lynch, S.F. 49ers; Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks

Justin Houston led the NFL in sacks a season ago and is playing at a very high level again, despite the team’s poor start.  Houston will be amongst the league leaders again in sacks, and that’s with opposing teams game-planning around him.

Aaron Lynch may be the most surprising player on the team, as the former fifth-round pick has become the best player on the 49ers defense.  Lynch is able to rush the passer and also cover running backs and tight ends.  His five sacks lead the 49ers.

Bobby Wagner mans the middle better than any other linebacker in football.  Wagner makes all the routine plays and has a nose for the football.  He is great in coverage and gets off blocks as well as anyone at his position.  He is one of the most valuable players on the great Seahawks defense.

Cornerbacks- Josh Norman, Carolina Panthers; Aqib Talib, Denver Broncos

Josh Norman is in contention for Defensive Player of the Year as the was the Defensive Player of the Month for September.  Norman is second in the NFL with four interceptions and has brought two back to the house.  He routinely takes on opposing No. 1 receivers and has become a true shut-down cornerback.

Aqib Talib narrowly edged out Darrelle Revis for the spot on our team, as he has been excellent this season.  He is rarely thrown on, but still has three interceptions in the Broncos perfect 7-0 start.  Talib is physical and can play both zone and press.

Safeties- Charles Woodson, Oakland Raiders; Rashad Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

Charles Woodson is aging like a fine wine.  He leads the NFL in interceptions with five, and has transformed from the cornerback position to safety flawlessly.  Woodson has great range and is a major reason why the Raiders are one of the most improved teams in the NFL.

Rashad Johnson is both rangy and intimidating on the back end of the Arizona defense.  Johnson is coming into his own and he works extremely well with Tyrann Mathieu and they’ve edged out Seattle’s Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas as the best safety tandem in the NFL.

Head coach- Bill Belichick, New England Patriots

Offensive coordinator- Kyle Shanahan, Atlanta Falcons

Defensive coordinator- Wade Phillips, Denver Broncos

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.