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Jumbo Package: Wednesday, December 21st

Alabama’s best defense, invading the pros, and the 2016 captains

SEC Championship - Alabama v Florida Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Making the case for 2016 Alabama defense as program's all-time best

Johnson, the Alabama middle linebacker from 2009-12, has been watching this Tide defense closely.

He sees fewer issues than the 2011 group for which he was a starter.

"I feel like their defense was complete," Johnson said. "We had a lot of holes. Coach Saban did a well enough job to cover up a lot of weaknesses we had. I understand every defense has weaknesses. It's just crazy. They're complete. I don't think in 2011 -- it's scary to say it -- but we didn't have that complete defense.

"We still had a lot of holes to where we had to cover up. A lot of other areas in our defense had to put a little more workload on them because we had so many flaws and so many weaknesses in our defense. But this defense here is complete." put out a decent article here, with some numbers and statistics to back up their claims, along with quite a few quotes from former Alabama defenders Nico Johnson and Will Lowery.

I would personally give the edge to this year’s defense due to the sacks and a stronger slate of opposing offenses, but 2011 is right there neck and neck. What do you think?

Potent Quotables: Tide trio reacts to being named team captains

Defensive end Jonathan Allen, linebacker Reuben Foster, safety Eddie Jackson and left tackle Cam Robinson were chosen as the core group of leaders for the 2016 team and will have their hand and cleat prints immortalized in cement in front of Denny Chimes in the spring.

It was the third season in a row that four players were voted team captains, and the group that was selected this year by the rest of the players was given the Nick Saban seal of approval.

“If I could have picked captains, those are four guys that I would have picked,” Saban said. “I think just that many players on the team have that much respect for Eddie in terms of not only what he did when he was playing, but also the way he’s continued to be a part of the team when he’s not playing.

“He’s helped other players, he’s helped them on the sideline during the game, I think he’s tried to help some of the younger guys learn things. But he did that when he was playing. I think our players really appreciate that and have a tremendous amount of respect for it.

“I’m really pleased with the captains that we have.”

Like Nick Saban, I can’t think of four more deserving players to be named team captains. Most impressive is the inclusion of Cam Robinson—only a third year player. It goes to show the kind of veteran leadership and stability he’s displayed as the veteran player of a young offense and shuffled offensive line.

When Alabama players watch football on television they may begin to analyze

“I try to enjoy it and actually watch the game and watch the ball,” Alabama guard Ross Pierschbacher said,”but I kind of find myself watching the line and seeing who played well and stuff like that. After that, I’ll watch the ball and try to enjoy the game a little bit.”Pierschbacher runs into trouble with his relaxed watching, though, when fellow offensive lineman Jonah Williams joins him. He said that makes it hard to do.

“Jonah will come over and we’ll watch football. He’s just sitting there in my ear talking. ‘Oh, they ran this blitz and this stunt, and they should have done this.’ “It’s like I’m watching film right now sitting next to Coach Key (center and guards Coach Brent Key).

“I just want to relax a little bit.”

Pierschbacher isn’t surprised by Williams’s analytical approach to watching a game.

“I just think that’s how he’s built, and that’s what’s making him so successful,” Pierschbacher said. “He’s just got that great football mind.

“So he loves the game and it’s fun to be around him…I guess.”

Here’s a great little nugget from inside the lives of Ross Pierschbacher and Jonah Williams. It should come as no surprise that Williams approaches football watching the way he does, what with his meteoric rise to stardom as a true freshman offensive tackle.

Jonathan Allen also mentions struggling to watch the game as a fan, and gets caught up in watching defensive linemen.

Six former Alabama players named to 2017 Pro Bowl

AFC roster

*WR Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders

*ILB Dont'a Hightower, New England Patriots

ILB C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens

NFC roster

*WR Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Green Bay Packers

*SS Landon Collins, New York Giants

* denotes starter

Cooper, Hightower, Jones and Collins were each named starters, while the 2016 team marked the fourth time Jones has been named to the Pro Bowl and Mosley and Cooper made their second appearances. Hightower, Clinton-Dix and Collins will make their Pro Bowl debuts this January. All but Collins have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft since 2011; Collins was a second-round choice in 2015.

With 6 players named to the NFL Pro Bowl this year, Alabama is the most represented college in the pros. With that, I think we can officially put that “Alabama players aren’t successful in the NFL” narrative to rest. Let the rest of the nation stew in their jealously.

On top of these guys, the Tide has quite a few other players making big impacts. Jarran Reed is a stalwart along the Seattle offensive line, Mark Ingram is having an exceptional year with the Saints (when they aren’t inexplicably benching him), and Derrick Henry is causing some rumblings in Tennessee with his consistently explosive runs off the bench in relief of DeMarco Murray.