Let's face it, the Buffalo Bills pass rush hasn't exactly been stellar in the 2000s. But the Bills did have a two-time Pro Bowler and two of the three most prolific sack artists in team history lace up the cleats in the last decade. One's career was winding down, while the other's was just getting started.
Beloved by many Bills fans, Phil Hansen was drafted in the 1991 NFL draft from North Dakota State. Hansen most certainly would be opposite of Hall of Famer Bruce Smith on the 1990s All-Decade team, but he also started 20 games in the 2000s. He had five sacks, an interception, three batted balls, and a fumble recovery in those two seasons to go along with his 38 tackles. He might win this fan voting, but during his two final seasons in Buffalo, he was clearly on the down slope of his career. As much as I love Hansen, I should probably remind you to vote for only what he did this decade.
Wiley makes the list for one stat: 10.5 sacks. He only made 15 starts in the decade for Buffalo, but that sack total, more than the rest of his Bills career combined, gets him a spot on the list. It's the fourth-most in one season by a Bill this decade behind three Aaron Schobel seasons. He also forced three fumbles, recovered one, and made 41 tackles in his lone season in Buffalo in the decade.
Schobel was the Bills' second-round pick in 2001. His 78 sacks are more than three times the next closest Bills player in the decade. He owns the top three yearly sack totals of the decade and four of the top five. He has over 100 more tackles than the next defensive end. He's recovered more fumbles than any defensive player on the team in the last decade, and forced more than almost everyone in team history. He even has three interceptions and a touchdown return. He's batted down 31 passes in his career, and outside of missing eleven games in 2008 with a bad foot, he has been extremely durable, playing in every other game while he's been on the team. He has the most games played and the most starts of any player at the defensive end position in the decade, not to mention the only two Pro Bowls from the spot.
Denney was the Bills' second-round pick in 2002. In 2003, Denney started 13 games for the Bills at defensive end opposite Schobel, and many thought the Bills might have their long-term answer at bookends of the defensive line. Unfortunately for Denney, though, he only started 7 games over the next four years before making 11 starts for the injured Schobel in 2008. In his 111 games, he had 23.5 sacks, 20 pass knock downs, six forced fumbles, and three recoveries, along with his 190 tackles. He is second only to Schobel in games played and sacks in the 2000s. A neat fact about Denney is he has caught two touchdowns passes from Brian Moorman on fake field goals, and has a blistering 22 yards per reception, which would lead the team in the decade if it qualified.
Kelsay was the Bills' second-round pick in 2003. With that, the pattern of the Bills selecting DEs in the second round was over after three straight years. He has 22 career sacks and 210 tackles. Kelsay has started 88 games over his seven years in a Bills uniform, second most to Schobel. He has knocked down 16 passes, picked off three passes returning one for a touchdown (perhaps the greatest play I've ever seen live), forced five fumbles, and recovered six. He also recorded a safety in 2007.
Leave your voting rationale in the comments section.
Who was the best defensive end for the Buffalo Bills during the 2000s?
Phil Hansen (201 votes)
Marcellus Wiley (59 votes)
Aaron Schobel (1406 votes)
Ryan Denney (8 votes)
Chris Kelsay (13 votes)
1687 total votes