Last week on the AFC East Roundup, we reviewed each of the teams’ offenses in the division and how they compared with the rest of the league. This week we look at the other side of the ball. The division had two really great defenses in the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, while the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins dealt with inconsistency during the season.
We begin with the Patriots who, arguably, had the best defense in the league and allowed only 14 points per game. They also held opponents to 275 total yards per game. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore led the way for the defense as a shutdown corner who followed the opposing number-one receiver all over the field and shared the lead in the league with six interceptions on the season. This group would generate a lot of turnovers that would either be returned for a touchdown or set up the offense in great field position.
Not to be outdone, the Buffalo Bills fielded a defense that only allowed 16 points per game. Tre’Davious White was just as good if not better than Gilmore in most aspects—he, of course, shared the other half of NFL’s lead in interceptions at six. Buffalo made passing difficult for opposing quarterbacks because the secondary was so good at preventing the deep ball. This defense has room to get even better with most of the starters returning to defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s system for the 2020 season.
The New York Jets had a defense that looked great at times while vulnerable at others. The good news was that the unit allowed only 86 yards on the ground per game, which ranked second in the league. However, they still surrendered 22 points per game. Part of that was because linebacker C.J. Mosley missed a large portion of the season with a groin injury that he suffered Week 1 against Buffalo. Against the Bills, you could see the impact he was having on the game and how much of a difference it made when he was injured.
Lastly, we have Miami who, you have to remember, traded their former first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Pittsburgh Steelers, which had a huge impact on both defenses. Miami surrendered more than 30 points per game but played much better during the last quarter of the season while defeating teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and the Patriots. The run defense has to improve after giving up over 130 yards on the ground per game, which ranked in the bottom half of the league.