The AFC East has been dominated by the New England Patriots for the better part of the past decade. Almost all of that success within the division is a result of the play of Tom Brady, and the coaching of Bill Belichick. Brady has solidified himself as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. For this reason, it is not surprising that the AFC East has emerged as the division with the best defensive lines in the league. The three teams not named New England have taken great measures to make sure that they have the personnel necessary to put pressure on Brady. Let’s take a quick look at the AFC East’s defensive lines.
2014 starters: Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Jerry Hughes. Few teams in the entire league possess the firepower across the defensive line that the Buffalo Bills have. In my opinion, they have the best starting defensive line (for teams that run a 4-3) in the entire NFL. Is that a stretch for me to say? Not exactly. Williams, Dareus and Hughes are all on NFL.com’s top 100 players list. The Bills know how to get to the quarterback. They led the NFL in 2014 with 54 sacks.
2014 starters: Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson, Quinton Coples.The Jets defensive line may be just as good as the Bills’ defensive line, and is even deeper. The Jets got the best player in the 2015 NFL draft, Leonard Williams, at sixth overall. He can play both defensive end and defensive tackle, which is perfect for the Jets rotation. They also will bring back Wilkerson, Richardson and Coples. Coples doubles as an outside linebacker in addition to sometimes lining up at defensive end. The Jets will be coached this year by former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. He is a blitz guru. Look out Tom Brady and the rest of the AFC East quarterbacks.
2014 starters: Cameron Wake, Randy Starks, Jared Odrick, Olivier Vernon. The Dolphins instantly joined the mix of the having the best defensive line in the NFL by adding Ndamukong Suh this offseason. Suh was the most coveted free agent on either side of the ball, and brings 8.5 sacks from the interior with him to South Beach. Randy Starks and Jared Odrick have moved on, but the Dolphins bring back sack machines Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake, who combined for 18 sacks last season. Rookie Jordan Phillips and veterans Earl Mitchell and C.J. Mosley give this team arguably the best depth in the division. Suh really brings this group together and should make everyone around him that much better. The pass rush should be vicious in Miami this season, which is exactly what the team needs to finally topple Brady from his throne.
New England Patriots
2014 starters: Rob Ninkovich, Sealver Siliga, Dominique Easley, Chandler Jones. Everyone always praises the first three teams’ defensive lines, but the Patriots may have the most underrated defensive line in the league. Definitely in the division. They were tied for 13th in the NFL last season with 40 sacks, and will only get better with the addition of first round pick defensive tackle Malcolm Brown. Ninkovich is a menace off the edge, and Chandler Jones is the most versatile defender on the field.
Want 10% off all Miami Dolphins tickets? Become a premium member today!