2013 Midseason All-Division Team: AFC East
One team remains on top despite injuries, two teams are overachieving and another stands on the brink. Khaled Elsayed focuses on the best that the AFC East has to offer
2013 Midseason All-Division Team: AFC East
Yesterday we unveiled our All Pro team for the midseason, but we’re going to dig into a little bit more data and that means All Divisional Teams.
That’s right the best players from each division in one team, giving those who deserve praise their due. As ever it doesn’t matter about reputation just what they’ve done on the field.
Up next it’s the AFC East so sit back and enjoy.
Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill, MIA (+9.9)
It feels odd to be going in a different direction from Tom Terrific, but his erratic play at this point has left the door wide open for the second year Dolphins quarterback to squeeze in. The highs have been higher for Brady, but the consistent play of the Miami man earns him the nod…for now.
Running Back: Fred Jackson, BUF (+1.6)
It wasn’t easy. There’s a real lack of contenders for this spot but Jackson, outside of two fumbles, is the stand out candidate.
Tight End: Jeff Cumberland, NYJ (-2.0)
With Rob Gronkowski not playing enough snaps it was really slim pickings at tight end. So, after avoiding a full back I had to go with one and Cumberland is the best of a bad bunch.
Wide Receivers: Brian Hartline, MIA (+7.3), Danny Amendola, NE (+3.6) and Stevie Johnson, BUF (+2.1)
Hartline has benefited from the presence of Mike Wallace and has continued his productive ways. After that things got a little murkier, though Johnson deserves credit for the job he has done with the quarterbacks the Bills have used. The last choice was always going to be a slot receiver and but for injury Brandon Gibson would be that guy. Here’s hoping Amendola can stay healthy.
Note: The AFC North is dropping the FB and running 3-wide for the purposes of the All-Division team to reflect the performance of both positions.
Tackles: Nate Solder, NE (+19.8) and Austin Howard, NYJ (+7.4)
If not for injury this would be an all Patriots unit, but I’m sticking with a policy that if you’re on injured reserve it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. Instead Solder, our top ranked tackle, is partnered by Austin Howard who has developed into as consistent a linemen as the Jets have.
Guards: Richie Incognito, MIA (+6.3) and Kraig Urbik, BUF (+3.8)
Despite whatever is written about Incognito with his off the field behavior, he has played pretty well on the field. We’ll leave it at that with Logan Mankins letting himself down in pass protection to such a level I can’t choose him. Urbik is the right guard and owes a debt of gratitude to the ability of Willie Colon to keep drawing flags.
Center: Mike Pouncey, MIA (+7.9)
Nick Mangold has seen his form desert him and Pouncey is priming to set him up as the division’s top center. Pouncey really doesn’t get the respect he’s due.
We’re putting forward a hybrid defense that features two edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers), three players on the “interior” of the defensive line (3-4 defensive ends or defensive tackles and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).
Defensive Interior – Ends: Kyle Williams, BUF (+16.0) and Muhammad Wilkerson, NYJ (+15.4)
Let’s be honest. As bad as it was picking skill position players on the offense, it’s completely the reverse here. Williams and Wilkerson are my choice but guys like Randy Starks, Sheldon Richardson and Jared Odrick would all get into other units. This is a stacked position.
Defensive Interior – Nose: Damon Harrison, NYJ (+21.8)
Our All-Pro choice at the position so there’s no surprise he’s picked here. Again though I’m forced to point out that Marcell Dareus and Paul Soliai would make strong cases for selection at other positions.
Edge Rushers: Mario Williams, BUF (+10.3) and Cameron Wake, MIA (+11.5)
He might not be worth the contract but he’s certainly making some of the plays expected out of him. A much better second year for Williams. Am I being a bit harsh on Rob Ninkovich by not including him here? Perhaps, but I like the extra pass rush Cameron Wake has brought even when he was half healthy.
Linebackers: Kiko Alonso, BUF (+5.9) and Brandon Spikes, NE (+9.6)
The perfect blend? Alonso is at his best when teams pass. A fine coverage defender he just gets that element of the game. Spikes on the other hand is at his best knifing through gaps and that’s why he has the highest run defense grade of all inside linebackers.
Cornerbacks: Aqib Talib, NE (+8.2) and Brent Grimes, MIA (+8.0)
This is as good as Talib as played and it’s just a shame injuries have kept him off the field. Grimes earns a spot here despite his six missed tackle day against the Bengals. He’s been that good this year it can be ignored.
Safeties: Devin McCourty, NE (+17.4) and Dawan Landry, NYJ (+3.8)
McCourty has taken full advantage of the injury to Jairus Byrd to not just displace him on this team, but also as arguably the best deep safety in the league. At the moment. Landry is a little more versatile and has been an unheralded member of a successful Jets defense.
Kicker, Nick Folk, NYJ (+22.2) Perfect on the year with a habit for game winners.
Punter, Brandon Fields, MIA (+6.9) Not at his best but still better than the rest of the AFC East.
Returner, Julian Edelman, NE (+5.4) Never seems far away from breaking one for a big run.
Special Teamer, Jamie Collins, NE (+6.5) The rookie has proven an ability to deliver on kickoffs and punts.
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