The NFL season is off to a bang for defenses around the league during the first two weeks of the season. From the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Rams humiliating their opponents at home, to the New York Jets shocking the football world by shutting down the Detroit Lions, to having two tied games, there have been plenty shining examples of defensive standouts in these first two weeks. Looking over these close games and outstanding performances, who are the top defensive players so far in the NFL? Let’s take a look at the tape to find our stars for these first two weeks:
Geno Atkins – Cincinnati – 3.5 sacks, 9 tackles: Atkins is helping the Bengals surprise the AFC North by having the only undefeated record in the division after two weeks. Atkins has the most sacks of any linemen during the first two weeks, and his leadership in the position has helped make the defense of the Bengals suddenly a force to be reckoned with. Based on these first two weeks, if the Bengals offense can prevent turnovers, Atkins can lead the defense to do its part and keep games close.
Myles Garrett – Cleveland – 2 sacks, 7 tackles, 2 forced fumbles: Although his work has resulted in zero wins for the Browns so far, Garrett’s two forced fumbles and two sacks have sure given his team as many chances as it can get. Garrett forced two fumbles in back-to-back drives against the Pittsburgh Steelers late in the fourth quarter, one of those fumbles being recovered to the 1-yard line, leading to a Browns touchdown the very next play. Defensive starts on losing teams seem to always fall under the radar, but the young Aggie has quickly become a bright spot on the lowly Browns.
Khalil Mack – Chicago – 2 sacks, 1 interception, 1 defensive TD, 2 forced fumbles: The Bears have had two prime time games the first two weeks, and Mack has put on a show both times. When the Packers were pushing in the red zone late in the second quarter, Mack literally grabbed the ball out of DeShone Kizer’s hand for a forced fumble ending the drive. On the Packer’s next possession, Mack then took a Kizer interception back for a touchdown. Most likely having a chip on his shoulder after being dumped by the Oakland Raiders, Mack has shown the entire NFL why he was worth the massive contract that he got this offseason. His leadership and impact right now second to none, bringing life and exactement to a once average Bears defense. Von Miller – Denver – 4 sacks, 12 tackles, 2 forced fumbles: While the average NFL fan might be hearing of Mack for the first time during the first few weeks, Von ‘Old Spice’ Miller is already a household name of defensive dominance. The former Super Bowl MVP has quietly led the league in sacks and has forced two fumbles along the way. Leading a Broncos defense that has dropped off since its Super Bowl days, Miller helped keep his team in the game while the Broncos overcame two deficits to maintain an undefeated record early into the season.