My AFC East First Half All-Pro Defense

Yesterday was the offense, today is the defense.  Same format, 1 starter for each position (in a 3-4 defense) and 1 back-up on the 2nd team.

Defensive Ends

  • 1st team – Andre Carter, New England Patriots (32 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 1 FF) – Carter was a great acquisition for the Pats and thus far has outshined big names such as Haynseworth and Ellis.  Carter’s 4.5 sacks is tied for tops among defensive ends in the division.
  • 1st team – Dwan Edwards, Buffalo Bills (34 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 1 PD) – Edwards, the former Raven, has been a solid force among the Bills new 3-4 D-Line since they signed him back in 2010.  He leads all AFC East DEs in tackles and is a good mentor for young players like Marcell Dareus and Alex Carrington
  • 2nd team – Muhammad Wilkerson, New York Jets (20 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL, 1 PD) – Wilkerson has fought off injury to become an effective 3-4 end for the Jets.  His 3 TFL are among the best for AFC East DEs.
  • 2nd team – Mark Anderson, New England Patriots (10 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 1 PD) – Anderson might not have had as many tackles as the rest of the guys on the list but he is tied with teammate Andre Carter with 4.5 sacks.

Defensive Tackles

  • 1st team – Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots (23 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 3 PD, 2 INTs, 1 FF) – Wilfork has been one of the most versatile defenders in football thanks to his two surprise INTs this year.  It doesn’t matter whatever else is going on around him, big Vince is always a force in the middle for the New England defense.
  • 2nd team – Marcell Dareus, Buffalo Bills (24 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 PD, 1 FF) – Dareus is the first and only rookie named to my All-AFC East team.  He leads all AFCE DTs in sacks with 3.5 and is the Bills best defender against the run on the front line.

Outside Linebackers

  • 1st team – Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins (20 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 PD) – People might forget that Wake is still a beast due to him playing on the Dolphins below par defense but Wake is the sack leader for the entire AFC East.  Makes you wonder what he was doing in Canada all those years.
  • 1st team – Calvin Pace, New York Jets (35 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 TFL, 1 PD, 1 INT, 2 FF) – Pace does it all for the Jets defense on the outside.  He gets sacks, defends the pass well and is as good as anyone against the run.  He’s the most versatile outside linebacker in the AFC East.
  • 2nd team – Rob Ninkovich, New England Patriots (37 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 PD, 1 FF) – Ninkovich has been a solid starter for the Pats this season with a team LB high for tackles and sacks.  Was rewarded with a contract extension.
  • 2nd team – Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots (33 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 FR) – Despite being injured for parts of the first half of the season Mayo is still a tackle machine for the Pats, even after kicking to the outside this season.

Inside Linebackers

  • 1st team – David Harris, New York Jets (42 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 PD, 2 INTs) – Harris might be the best middle linebacker in the game right now.  Equally strong against the pass and the run, Harris can plug up a hole or cover a tight end if need be.
  • 1st team – Nick Barnett, Buffalo Bills (67 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL, 3 PD, 2 INTs, 1 FF) – Barnett has been the exact type of versatile linebacker that the Bills envisioned when they signed him to replace the underachieving Paul Posluzny.  One of the few playmakers in the Bills front seven.
  • 2nd team – Bart Scott, New York Jets (39 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 FF) – The loud talking, hard-hitting Scott has been himself this year, yapping up a storm and racking up tackles.
  • 2nd team – Kevin Burnett, Miami Dolphins (46 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5 TFL, 1 PD) – The former Charger Burnett beats out Brandon Spikes for the last ILB spot due to his play behind the line of scrimmage.

Cornerbacks

  • 1st team – Darrelle Revis, New York Jets (24 tackles, 12 PD, 4 INTs) – This easiest no-brainer on the board.  The numbers are unreal…12 passes defended through 8 games?  4 INTs already and he is hardly thrown to.  Hands down the best Cornerback in the NFL right now and one of the best ever.
  • 1st team – Kyle Arrington, New England Patriots (43 tackles, 1 TFL, 7 PD, 5 INTs) – Arrington has been inconsistent, as has been pretty much every CB in the division besides Revis, but his ball-hawking skills have served him well as he leads all AFCE players in INTs.
  • 2nd team – Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets (23 tackles, 7 PD, 3 INTs, 1 FF) – Cromartie is one of those infuriating players who struggles at times despite having all the talent in the world.  When he’s on, he’s on.
  • 2nd team – Leodis McKelvin, Buffalo Bills (28 tackles, 6 PD, 1 INT, 1 FR) – McKelvin has been the strongest of a talented but inconsistent group of Bills cornerbacks in the early going.

Strong Safeties

  • 1st team – George Wilson, Buffalo Bills (71 tackles, 2 TFL, 6 PDs, 4 INTs, 1 FF) – The former undrafted wide receiver has been playing at an unbelievably high level this season.  Like teammate Fred Jackson, an example of what happens when hard work and lots of heart pays off.
  • 2nd team – Yeremiah Bell, Miami Dolphins (64 tackles, 1 sack, 1 PD, 1 FR) – Bell has been one of the few bright spots on the Miami defense.  He’s their most consistent guy in the defensive backfield.

Free Safeties

  • 1st team – Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills (56 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 5 PD, 2 INTs, 1 FF, 1 FR) – Byrd has shaken off a sophomore slump to become one of the most complete safeties in the entire league.  Byrd, who struggled against the run in his rookie season, has become a force in the Bills run defense and is getting a reputation for being a big hitter.
  • 2nd team – Patrick Chung, New England Patriots (55 tackles, 1 sack, 4 PD, 1 INT) – There is no sophomore slump for Chung who has been the most consistent defender in the Pats defensive backfield.

Punters

  • 1st team – Brandon Fields, Miami Dolphins (48.6 avg., 40.7 net, 17 IN20, 70 long) – Fields may have been getting a lot of work in the first half of the season but at least he is making it count.  He has the highest net, the longest punt, and the most pins inside the 20 in the division.
  • 2nd team – Brian Moorman, Buffalo Bills (49.5 avg., 38.5 net, 9 IN20, 66 long) – This was a dog fight with Zoltan Mesko but Moorman has Mesko in everything but the net avg. so the Bills vet gets the nod.

Twitter @ErikVenskus

Thoughts on Bills/Jets

Well, the whiteout didn’t produce the results that the Bills had hoped for.  The Jets took the crowd right out of the game early and they never fully recovered as the Jets were prepared for everything that the Bills threw at them.  Rex Ryan took advantage of the extra week he had to prepare for the Bills and by the time Chan Gailey found the adjusttments he needed it was too little, too late.  It’s going to be a crazy second half of the season in the AFC East, I’ll get to the Pats later, but obviously there are three teams at 5-3 halfway through the season.  It doesn’t get closer than that.  Here are some thoughts on the game.

  • I’m not sure that Donald Jones should have come off of a three week absence and thrown right into the fire across from Antonio Cromartie.  He was no match for his coverage skills and was unable to strecth the field.  You have to wonder if it would have been more wise to use CJ Spiller in that role for another week.
  • No touches on offense for Brad Smith this week.  I’m not sure that I understand that one.
  • While there were problems with the Bills offense, they didn’t come from the offensive line.  The line was exceptional again, opening big holes for Fred Jackson and keeping Ryan Fitzpatrick upright.  Fitzpatrick wasn’t sacked and generally had time to throw, he just couldn’t find anyone open.
  • You know that you’re having a great season when people see a line of 82 rushing yards and 38 receiving yards as disappointing.  Those were Fred Jackson’s numbers on Sunday.
  • I think Chan Gailey needs to work Scott Chandler more into the gameplan.  He is reliable and I can’t recall a mistake that he’s made all year in the passing game.
  • I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating – Darrelle Revis may be the best player in the NFL.  Not the best cornerback, the best player over all.  That being said Stevie Johnson found a way to beat him down the field later in the game, if only Gailey and the Bills tried to run the deep routes earlier the Bills may have had more success against Revis.
  • Defensively the Bills play wasn’t overly offensive but they caught some bad breaks (Wilson non-INT, questionable PI on McKelvin).  They didn’t give up as many yards on the ground as they did in the previous four games against the Jets but it was still too many.
  • Marcell Dareus was handled pretty well by Nick Mangold but that’s alright.  A kid like that needs growing pains and it’s always good to learn on the fly.  That being said he did show some flashes yesterday and I see a huge second half for the big rookie.
  • Chris Kelsay may be one of the more maligned members of the Bills for the past decade but the Bills defense really misses him when he’s not out there.  It will be another struggle to control the line of scrimmage next week against Dallas when he’s out again.
  • Brian Moorman had a great day punting the ball yesterday.  He’s quietly put together a great season.
  • For the first time this season Chan Gailey was severely out-coached.  It’s disappointing after what’s he’s done so far this season but it’s important to remember that Rex Ryan had two weeks to prepare.  It won’t get much easier for the re-match in three weeks when Ryan has 10 days to prepare, coming off of a Thursday nighter in Denver the week prior.  It’s what makes these next two road games so important for the Bills.

I’ll recap the Pats/Giants game later but that game compared with this one was a possible game-changer in the AFC East.  The three teams are tied at the top of the AFC East.  On the outset the Jets look to have the best opportunity to get a leg up going into the second half of the season as the only one playing at home next week.  The Bills draw the Cowboys in Dallas.  It feels like it could be the beginning of the end, or it could be another chapter in the story of the resilient Buffalo Bills of 2011.

 

Twitter @ErikVenskus