Depending on what time of year it is, you'll hear one of the variations below of roughly the same concept.
Offense sells tickets, but defense wins games.
Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.
I've always thought these statements were kind of trash. What wins games, and championships, is balance.
At least, that's what I always thought. I'm starting to come around to the other side of things. I'm starting to think that these quotes are right, and that we've entered a time when defense is what wins you games and championships.
The Denver Broncos won three straight games against three of the top offenses in the league and they did it without any real impact from their offense. All their offense did was avoid mistakes and take advantage when given outstanding field position.
Even when you look at their Super Bowl win against the Carolina Panthers, the Broncos mostly scored as a result of big plays from their defense or special teams. What did the offense do, really?
If you're wondering why the San Diego Chargers are so inconsistent, and why they haven't been taken seriously as a Super Bowl contender since Ron Rivera left, it is because of their defense.
The Chargers are built up around Philip Rivers to take advantage of his skills and put up the most points necessary. Top draft picks are used on running backs, offensive tackles, and wide receivers. The defense isn't an afterthought, but it is thought after the offense.
Looking at the Chargers' defense, it's pretty easy to see where the problems will be in the next few years. The team will either have a lack of talent at safety, at outside linebacker, or along the defensive line. Mostly because they can't fill all three holes at the same time, and Eric Weddle leaving will definitely create a hole at safety.
Where teams like the Broncos, Seahawks, and Panthers find themselves in the mix every year with a dominant defense and an offense that avoids making mistakes, the Chargers are still trying to win with a dominant offense and a "bend but don't break" defense.
I've always been a big fan, and proponent, of building from your from 4-5 on defense. A dominant defensive line, along with a dominant pass rush (if they're not the same thing), can drag the most mediocre of teams to the pinnacle of success by itself. That's what the Chargers need to think about as they ponder what to do with their #3 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.