As it's Friday afternoon, I thought it'd be fun to step back slightly from our constant coverage of one team, the Buffalo Bills, and broaden the scope a little bit to the AFC East. Looking to generate a little discussion, I decided to put together a pre-season All-AFC East Team heading into the new football season, which, unfortunately for us, contains more Jets, Patriots and Dolphins than it does Bills. I'll plop the team right here on the front page, and leave the bigger analysis for after the jump.
No one touches Brady at quarterback, and I didn't really consider anyone else at running back (sorry, Fred Jackson), receiver, left guard (though that'll change if Mankins whines his way out of New England), center or right tackle, either. If you want to yell at me for that, feel free, but I've got rebuttals at the ready.
I picked Ferguson at left tackle over Jake Long because I think the former is slightly better as a pass protector than the latter. Long's a heck of a player, though, there's no question. Right guard was tricky, but I picked our boy Wood over the Jets' Brandon Moore because there were times in '09 when Wood was Moore's equal; add in Wood's upside, and that's why the decision was made. As with including Shonn Greene at running back (as well as other areas), there's a bit of projection going into this, and I think Wood will have a better season than Moore will.
Tight end was interesting, because I happen to think very highly of Miami's Anthony Fasano. He's just a really solid all-around football player. In the end, Keller is a far more dynamic offensive weapon, and I couldn't keep him off this team after his outstanding 2009 post-season.
Here, decisions were a lot trickier, and not just because the Jets play a different version of the 3-4 than the Patriots, Dolphins and now the Bills do. The only easy decisions were Revis (obviously), Bart Scott, and, oddly, the outside linebackers. This division is not long on elite pass-rushing outside linebackers, folks - that kind of caught me off-guard.
Shaun Ellis technically plays left end for the Jets, but I moved him over to the right side to make room for Ty Warren, who I consider the second-best 3-4 end in the division, and also plays left end. I strictly adhered to the positions these guys played offensively - that's why Jake Long isn't the right tackle despite obviously being, at worst, the second-best tackle in the division - but defenders move around so much that I felt compelled to put the two best players on the team.
I like Jenkins over Wilfork because of what he offers the Jets schematically. Wilfork is a beast.
Knowing Scott, the ideal strong-side ILB, would be taking up one of the ILB spots, I had a really tough choice between Mayo, Karlos Dansby and David Harris for the other spot. In the end, I took the player that has the best natural talent; if he can stay healthy in '10, Mayo should emerge as one of the best linebackers in the league.
At corner, there were some excellent options, but I went with Sean Smith opposite Revis because of his unusually strong rookie season and his unique physical skills. He's not really a playmaker, but he's got shut-down potential. Leigh Bodden and Antonio Cromartie were excellent considerations as well. At safety, Meriweather and Byrd were simply the two best playmakers in a division that values ball skills at the back end of their defenses. Keep your eyes on Brodney Pool, though - he's an outstanding fit for Rex Ryan's scheme.
Yes! The area at which the Bills have the best shot for nominations! Moorman's one of the best two or three punters in the league, so with all proper apologies to Zoltan Mesko, I went with the veteran over the flashy name. I have no idea how many opportunities Spiller will get as a kick and punt return specialist, but I can't undersell his skill here - he's got Devin Hester-type potential in that area. He was beyond phenomenal as a returner in college.
There are some good kickers in this division, but Dan Carpenter really flies under the radar. He's only two years into his NFL career, but has already connected on 46 of his 53 career attempts, making a few big ones along the way.
Y'all are, of course, welcome to make compelling arguments for guys not on this list, or to call me a moron for not including David Garrard on this team. Have at it.