- Gary Horton, Scouts Inc.
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Pass defense seems like an uphill battle in the league that features high-flying offenses. But it just takes one or two stops to turn a game around. So who has the best pass defense in the playoffs? Here's the breakdown:
1. Chicago Rush
This is a dominating secondary that can play man-to-man or zone schemes and is very aggressive. The trio of Dennison Robinson, Jeremy Unertl and Jonathan Ordway are the best in the league with 23 interceptions, including a league-leading 13 picks by Robinson. They held opposing QBs to only a 62.19 completion rate.
2. New York Dragons
This is not a big-name pass defense, but it is opportunistic and aggressive unit that makes a lot of plays. The Dragons are second in the league with 24 interceptions, and the trio of Levy Brown, Billy Parker and John Walker do an excellent job of breaking on the ball. It helps that Dallas has 21 sacks, which takes some pressure off the secondary.
3. San Jose SaberCats
The trio of DBs Marques Floyd, Clevan Thomas and Omarr Smith has a combined 22 interceptions, and they are all excellent ballhawks. They held opponents to a league-low 60.2 completion percentage and are helped by a pass rush that produced a league-high 30 sacks.
4. Dallas Desperados
The Desperados are solid, but are not very explosive or flashy. Their best playmaker is Bobby Perry (six interceptions), but they don't give up a lot of big plays and they make offenses earn everything. They also have a solid pass rush that helps the secondary.
5. Philadelphia Soul
Key injuries really impacted the talented trio of Eddie Moten, Brian Mance and Mike Brown in the secondary, but when they are healthy, they can dominate a game with their aggressive schemes. The Soul gave up only 78 TDs through the air, which is second best in the AFL.
6. Orlando Predators
The Predators are an average pass defense (14 sacks and 13 interceptions) but have a veteran secondary with two experienced players in Ahmad Carroll and Kenny McEntyre. They just don't make a lot of big plays or create turnovers.
7. Grand Rapids Rampage
This is another secondary that does not match-up real well in man-to-man schemes and gives up too many big plays (a league-high 4,899 passing yards allowed). The Rampage have recorded just 13 interceptions, but have an excellent playmaker in DB Ahmad Hawkins.
8. Arizona Rattlers
The Rattlers have a middle-of-the-pack pass defense, which is surprising considering they have only nine sacks. Without any pressure up front it's made it tougher on this secondary, which explains why it has produced only 12 interceptions. They gave up 90 TDs and even without a big play element, they are a respectable unit.
9. Georgia Force
They are not a big-play pass defense even though they have a good pass rush. They gave up 94 TDs, while recording only 13 interceptions. They are not bad, they just don't have a great playmaker element in the secondary.
10. Colorado Crush
The Crush have given up 95 TDs and don't make a lot of dramatic plays, but they have a huge game changer in DB Rashad Floyd. He has nine interceptions and is the best center fielder and closer in the league. Problem is he doesn't have a lot of help and complementary receivers really hurt the Crush.
11. Cleveland Gladiators
The Gladiators are not a good matchup secondary and don't have any dominating pass defenders. If the pass rush is working well, it helps a secondary that gave up 100 TDs. This group struggles to make defensive stops.
12. Utah Blaze
The Blaze pass defense has only one legitimate playmaker, DB Eddie Canonico, and just don't match-up well versus good passing offenses. They only have eight interceptions and don't create turnovers. They also lack a dominating pass rush.
Gary Horton, a pro scout for Scouts Inc., has been a football talent evaluator for more than 30 years. He spent 10 years in the NFL and 10 years at the college level before launching a private scouting firm called The War Room.