Best front four in the CFL?

Lets hear who everyone thinks is the best current (meaning can't have players on the IR) defensive line in the CFL. Back it up with stats not feelings for all those homers out there.

How is pressure measured in stats? I think it is common knowledge that the 2 most dominant ends are in WPG. DE can't just be measured in sacks/tackles. But you can ask any OC and they'll tell you how they had to specifically plan for the Jeffs.


Well I mean for the defensive line in general there are some pretty important stats such as FF, Sacks, Tackles, Interceptions, and I would also say how many yards are opposing teams getting on run plays total/average. And absolutely you have to plan for every teams DL if you don't you're not gonna do too well so that's not really a good reason to say Winnipeg has the best DL.

Sure you have to plan for anyteam's DL. But if you don't specifically plan for the Jeffs, your QB is going to have a very bad night. It's one thing to have 1 great DE. A team can double team that guy and take him away most plays. But to have two guys on the ends that can bully most guys 1 on 1, that is a big advantage. The Jeffs have been a huge part of the Bomber success over the past few years. Plug anyone inbetween and they still have a great front 4.

1 Like

Dline should be measured in

Tackles for loss
Tackles for no gain

I guess the question is, are we talking starters or starters and depth?

I honestly can't tell you who has the best D-Line in the CFL at this moment BUT what I can tell you is that it is NOT Hamilton .

1 Like

Well just judging starters isn't always the best measure as players go down with injury all the time. I'd say look at the full stats (and tackles for loss/no gain are a bit of a misleading stat as if the D-Line is allowing a single/two yards per carry that is by no means a bad number and should be included so just straight up tackles is better)

Yeah I'd have to agree with you on that one. Don't think they are the worst, but definitely not in the top right now.

1 Like

Injuries change everything. If not for them the BC Lions would've had 'The Stove' (Steven Richardson) in their lineup. He was the best interior defensive lineman in the league last season. Another guy slated to join him with amazing potential couldn't get over the border so maybe the rest of the CFL dodged a bullet. Imagine how dominant BC would be now with the team they're fielding if they also had all the pieces they were planning to assemble. It's scary to think about.

Ok when I say not just the starters I mean any players coming off the bench for injuries. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas. There are a lot of teams that "if only this player was here or there" I'm talking about the best DL so far this season.


With Hansen dropping into a linebacking position and Jake Thomas at Nose Tackle we can switch from 4-3 to 3-4 more easily this year.


The Cats front line has only produced exactly two QB sacks on the season after four games played . Julian Howsare has one of them and Dylan Wynn has the other .

Our prized FA signing Michah Johnson has only gotten 6 tackles in 4 games and has largely been invisible on most nights .
Our other tackle , long time Cat Ted Laurent has contributed only 2 tackles so far this season and hasn't had a registered QB sack since the 2019 season .
Both I might add are 34 years old and their best years are clearly in the rearview mirror . Especially Laurent who has been constantly playing on a wonky knee now for the better part of the last two years and it clearly shows in his drop-off of production .

Finally we clearly miss J'Gared Davis on this line and honestly aren't getting near the production needed out of his two replacements this year between the rotation of 2nd year players Mason Bennett and Malik Carney . Neither has registered a QB sack this season and both have had very little pass rush off the edge .

So with 5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 2 knockdowns, and 20 total tackles you're sayin this is the best group in the CFL (yes I know they have 1 game to play this week still)

1 Like

Your Cats no longer seek to dominate the trenches. It's a different mindset running things now but don't knock it. You guys have made it to the Cup two seasons in a row.

It looks like the wheels are finally falling off THIS season but holy moley... two cracks at a championship! (The second of which you should've won).

They're finally all together again and with Hansen working himself into game shape I think you'll see MacBeth running for his life this evening.

I can't think of a more talented, versatile group. I don't know how we'll replace Jefferson or Jeffcoat when they finally move on over the next year or two. Guys like that don't grow on our short Zone 3 trees you know.

Jeffcoat, who led the league in forced fumbles last year and had an an astonishing 3 in one game, actually had two forced fumbles in Game 2 against Ottawa. The first one went straight from Masoli to another Ottawa player and for some reason they aren’t counting it as a FF. It wasn’t a pass attempt. The second one sealed the deal. Jefferson sealed the deal against Hamilton with a pick six.

Quick tally of all 9 teams stats for the Defensive Line:

Winnipeg (19) / Toronto (22) / BC (23) / Ottawa (27) / Calgary (31) / Edmonton (32) / Saskatchewan (36) / Hamilton (37) / Montreal (40)
Toronto (2) / Hamilton (2) / Winnipeg (3) / Ottawa (3) / Edmonton (4) / Calgary (6) / BC (9) / Montreal (10) / Saskatchewan (16)
Ottawa/Edmonton/Montreal (0) / Toronto (1) / Hamilton (1) / Calgary (1) / Winnipeg (2) / BC (2) / Saskatchewan (4)
Forced Fumbles
Toronto/Hamilton/Ottawa/Edmonton (0) / Winnipeg (1) / BC (1) / Calgary (3) / Saskatchewan (4)
Calgary & Winnipeg (1) / Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal/Hamilton/Edmonton/Saskatchewan/BC (0)
Rushing (Against) Per Game
Edmonton (148) / Montreal (127) / Toronto (110) / Calgary (92.7) / Hamilton (89.3) / Ottawa (85.3) / BC (80.7) / Winnipeg (62.3) / Saskatchewan (54.5)
Rushing Yards Per Play (Against)
Montreal (6.3) / Edmonton (5.7) / BC (5.3) / Calgary (5.1) / Toronto (5.0) / Hamilton (4.3) / Winnipeg (4.3) / Saskatchewan (4.2) / Ottawa (3.9)

1 Like

I don’t have the definitive answer and agree that establishing metrics to judge a D Line by is difficult, if not impossible.

But I don’t think tackles are as important as they may seem to be. As I pointed out last year, Bighill won defensive MOP with some 20 to 30 less tackles than other players. Jefferson won it the year before with something like 24 or 26 tackles. It is the importance of a tackle that is more meaningful and judging that would be very difficult much of the time. In that sense sacks and tackles for losses and FF’s and IT’s arguably are more important. Winnipeg sealed their last two games with a pick six and an FF, which arguably had far more impact on the game than someone who had more tackles than another player.

The other problem with tackles, as I previously mentioned as well, is that players on poor teams who constantly lose the time of possession battle will have more tackles. The Bomber defence last year was so good, especially in second halves, and created so many two and outs, that players like Bighill should have less tackles than some of their counterparts. There are less tackles to make as the other team runs less offensive plays. I don’t think you should penalize a good defence because they make less tackles. Similarly, DB’s make more tackles when the man they are covering catches more passes and they shouldn’t be rewarded for that

In order for tackles to be more relevant you need to create some kind of a stat like they have in golf, often referred to as “strength against the field” or something similar. For example, if you think averaging 26 putts a round is good, it is not that good if the rest of the field averages 24. To apply that concept to tackles you would need to incorporate more factors, such as time of possession, overall team tackles and probably a few others. I am not a statistician and am only talking general concepts.

I just don’t think the number of gross tackles made tells us very much.


Thanks for taking the time to put this together. I would argue that tackles are the least important statistic of the ones you listed and as stated above, I don’t know the answer as to how to rank a team or D Line defensively when all stats are taken into account.

How about game sealing defensive plays? Winnipeg has 2 in 3 games. Don’t know what the other teams have.

1 Like

I'd look at it as a whole while yes tackles aren't as important they can tell a big part of the story. The big ones for me are forced fumbles, sacks, and yards per carry average. If the first two are high and the third is low you have a front four that is flying around to the ball and is going to allow the LBs to drop into coverage more often, blitz more often, and just all around make your defense better.

Hate to say it but based on these numbers so far I'd put Winnipeg maybe 3rd or 4th best front four in the league.

Oh also based on these numbers it looks like the prevailing theory on how to beat the crap out of the Elks is run the ball, run the ball some more, keep running the ball until their defense (who probably has 6 new players again that week) have no energy to even know what field they are on.