Last week on the AFC East Roundup we ranked the offenses of all four teams. This week, we will be switching to the other side of the ball with the defense before wrapping up with the special team rankings next week.
The Bills’ secondary is elite finishing, top-10 in the league with 18 interceptions while none of the other teams in the division had more than 10. They will not miss a beat after losing cornerback E.J. Gaines in free agency because the team signed veteran Vontae Davis to replace him. Yes, the defense had a lot of trouble stopping the run at times, but they have made improvements by drafting linebacker Tremaine Edmunds in the first round of this year’s draft and linebacker Matt Milano is expected to receive much more playing time in his second year. Up front, the team re-signed Kyle Williams and added names like Star Lotulelei, Trent Murphy, and Harrison Phillips through the draft and free agency. These signings along with Shaq Lawson being hungry to prove his worth as a former first-round pick can potentially free up Jerry Hughes from double teams so he can get his stats to where they were in years past. This is a defense that held the Jaguars to only 10 points in the postseason and they are only expected to get better with Leslie Frazier running the defense for the second straight year.
The Patriots come in at close second place with their defense because of the losses the team suffered since last season. Former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler left in free agency and leaves a defense that was shaky at times, allowing the 12th-most touchdowns in the air. (Buffalo was the top-5 in passing touchdowns allowed.) Another big loss for the Patriots defense is losing a key member on the sidelines in coordinator Matt Patricia, who took a head coaching job with the Detroit Lions after holding the job in New England since 2012. The team did acquire cornerback Jason McCourty and lineman Danny Shelton in trades, but the uncertainties are the reason the Pats come in second on our rankings.
The Jets come in third because of the playmakers the team has upfront and on the back end of the defense. On the line, the team has Leonard Williams who can be in the backfield on almost every down during the course of the game. He has stated numerous times in camp that he is hungry to get better and increase that sack total. On the back end, the team got possibly the best cornerback in free agency, signing Trumaine Johnson. He will be able to handle the honors of covering teams’ number one wide receivers for the majority of games and he is capable of the task.
The Dolphins are last on this list because of the lack of playmakers on defense. The team has Cameron Wake on the line, who gives every team trouble gameplanning for, but who else will step up on the line to help him out if he is being double-teamed throughout the course of the game? Miami drafted safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round of the draft but he is a rookie, so there is no guarantee that he will be giving immediate production in his first year in the league. The defense gave up the fourth-most points per game in the league in 2017. The team still has Kiko Alonso, who Buffalo fans know can be a difference-maker.