AFC East Defensive Power Rankings for the 2017 NFL Season
With the draft now a memory and free agent signings complete, the rosters for the 2017 NFL season have been confirmed. We round up the four teams to take a look at the AFC East defensive power rankings.
New York Jets – 4th in the AFC East Defensive Power Ranking
The Jets will be working with a 3 – 4 base defense this year, under the leadership of defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers. Kacy has been working in his role since 2015. Unfortunately, the Jets had a disappointing 2016 season with a 5 – 11 record, and a defense that has been described by some experts as “one of the worst in the entire NFL”.Sports network The Bleacher Report has predicted that the team “is likely on its way to another year in which they select inside the top 10.” There’s definitely talent in their defense but the coaching staff hasn’t been able to make it fall together in a way that can help their results. The team was right near the bottom of the table in 2016 when considering points allowed per game, and they weren’t successful at creating enough turnovers.New talent like Jamaal Adams and Marcus Maye will be a boost to the team, as will Morris Claiborne (ex-Dallas Cowboys) if he can avoid injuries. Even with some hope, we’re still ranking the Jets’ defense at the bottom of the AFC East.
Buffalo Bills – 3rd in the AFC East Defensive Power Ranking
The Buffalo Bills have lost talent through free agency signings, but they’ve also made some changes in their defensive line that the team hopes will bring them better fortunes in 2017.Former cornerback Leslie Frazier will be coordinating the defense for the bills. A former Super Bowl champion and once a head coach for the Minnesota Vikings, Frazier has a lot of experience to leverage when training the bills. Throughout most of his coaching career he’s either been a defensive assistant or defensive coordinator. The team will be looking to improve on previous results after dropping head coach Rex Ryan after a poor 2016 season. Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus are expected to be an integral part of the Bills’ defense. The team is switching to a 4 – 3 defense, which is turning out to be the most popular base defense with NFL teams in 2017.Micah Hyde is arguably the most important free agent acquisition for 2017, and he’s been signed to the team on a 5-year contact. The team is expecting him to lead the defensive backfield so that there’s a solid foundation to build on for the rest of the season and beyond.
Miami Dolphins 2nd in the AFC East Defensive Power Ranking
The Dolphins definitely have a good combination with some aspects of their defense, including in the tackle and defensive end. Matt Burke was promoted to defensive coordinator at the beginning of 2017, after a full season of being the Dolphins’ linebackers coach in 2016.The team will be starting with a 4 – 3 defensive alignment, and this year they hope to again make the playoffs and progress further than they did last year where they lost out to the Steelers. Last year wasn’t great for the team, they gave a lot away with roughly a 140-yard average on the ground, which was the third worst in the NFL. They’ve got talent with Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh, and they’ve also signed safety T.J. McDonald and linebacker Lawrence Timmons, both who will bring experience to the defense.Their weak linebacker situation has been the major downfall of the team in recent years, and Timmons may have the ability to change the fortunes of the team. Another linebacker addition, Raekwon McMillan, shows promise and will again help to boost the most lacking aspect of the defense. The rookie has been highly rated in his college career, and was considered to be one of the top talents in the 2017 NFL Draft. McMillan averaged 110.5 tackles in the last two years of college football, and he should be seen as a rising talent in the team as he begins his professional career with a four-year contract. The Dolphins had a strong 10 – 6 record last season and finished second in the AFC East. While they’re still ranked just below the Patriots in this division, a better defense this year (all the pieces are in place) will make them playoff contenders and the team will at least be aiming to place first in the AFC East.
New England Patriots 1st in the AFC East Defensive Power Ranking
The Patriots easily rank first in the AFC East, and their defensive power ranking is easily in the top five for the entire NFL. They’ll be running a 4 – 3 base defense this year, under defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Patricia has a proven record with this team, being the defensive coordinator for the team’s 2014 and 2016 Super Bowl wins. He was assistant offensive assistant for the team during their 2014 win. The Patriots have shown the ability to quickly adapt on the fly, which has made their defense one of the most formidable in the NFL in recent years. There’s plenty of depth in their defense which allows them to easily respond to and contain much of what their opponents can bring to a game. This defense is not about star players, but rather works well as a unit. If we had to single out some strong additions for this year, it would have to be Stephon Gilmore, Derek Rivers, and Kony Ealy. Rivers is a rookie who has shown great promise in his college career, and he should be able to quickly assimilate into his defensive end role in the Patriots. Gilmore was a free agent signing from the Buffalo Bills, and that team will definitely miss his talent.The Patriots have been one of the strongest teams overall in recent times, and even if they only maintain last season’s performance they will still be at the top of the defensive power ranking in this division.