NFL’s top 5 new defensive coordinators: Romeo art best By Vinnie Iyer @vinnieiyer RSS The Sporting NewsJune 16, 2014 10:06pm The job of an NFL defensive coordinator has never been tougher. The obvious reason is the explosion of high-powered passing offenses throughout the league. Because of that, DCs need to be more creative with hybrid looks, no matter if their base is a 4-3 or 3-4. They also need to deliver fast. If their team gives up a ton of yards and points in Year 1, there’s a good chance they won’t be around for Year 2. In this year’s new defensive coordinator class, five familiar names stand out:Romeo Crennel (AP Photo)1. Romeo Crennel, Texans They had a good turnaround and spike with Wade Phillips. Crennel was the best next step, allowing them to keep a base 3-4 with the potential for getting more out of their talent. It’s hard to get too much more from superstar end J.J. Watt, but Crennel is the right guy to give Jadeveon Clowney the gentle push to get him to Watt's level. He will also put the secondary in position to take advantage of the pressure and make more impact plays. Crennel is the best example of someone who’s better suited, with his diverse play-calling and player-friendly approach, to work in this capacity. It allows him to do what he does best without the more widespread tasks that come with being a head coach.2. Gregg Williams, Rams The former Titans defensive coordinator will work with Jeff Fisher again in St. Louis. A few years removed from the black mark left after the Saints alleged-bounty policy, he landed in the right situation to rebound. Williams has a great opportunity right away to mold Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald into the league’s unquestioned best front four. Keeping them and middle linebacker James Laurinatis in an always-aggressive mode will help overcome some questions in the secondary. Fisher and the Rams wanted someone to raise their mentality to match their tough NFC West foes. Williams fits the bill and then some.3. Ray Horton, Titans Horton went from his exceptional work with the Cardinals to a fine first and only year with the Browns. Tennessee needed a spark and some more playmaking juice all-around, and Horton's ability to push it to an attacking 3-4 was the ideal solution. With nose tackle Jurrell Casey as the returning linchpin and newcomer Shaun Phillips leading the reworked linebacker corps, the front seven’s goal will be creating the takeaway opportunities that didn’t come often last season. No wonder Ken Whisenhunt wanted this Arizona reunion in Nashville.4. Jim Schwartz, Bills This is second of two former Jeff Fisher lieutenants to like in 2014. Schwartz’s signature is developing a dominant front four, and somehow, he got one in the Bills (Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus) that can trump what he had with the Lions. The entire defense will quickly adapt to (and enjoy) his hard-charging, hard-hitting version of 4-3. In the back seven, this just means linebacker Kiko Alonso and cornerback Stephon Gilmore will blossom as more active forces.5. Leslie Frazier, Buccaneers Up goes Frazier, fresh off his stint as Vikings head coach to join fellow Tampa 2 guru Lovie Smith with the Bucs. Post-Darrelle Revis, there’s exceptional talent at every level. Just for starters, see Gerald McCoy, Michael Johnson, Lavonte David, Mark Barron and Alterraun Verner. That’s much more across the board than he had in Minnesota. Expect a better pass rush with less blitzing, steady run defense and sure, sounder tackling everywhere. Frazier’s secondary acumen will round the Bucs out into a top-five unit overall.
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