He was the top pass rushing prize in free agency and is one of the premier defensive ends in the NFL. Since 2007 no one in the AFC has more sacks than
“Buddy Nix and Coach Gailey and Coach Wannstedt have identified spots where they’ve felt like we needed to get better,” said
The perennial division favorites, the New England Patriots, got the most out of two veteran pass rushers last season in Anderson, now a Bill, and Andre Carter, with each of them logging 10 sacks. Carter is coming off a serious late season knee injury, though New England would like to re-sign him at proper market value.
The Jets, despite a reputation for being a successful pass rushing defense, have finished 18th, 8th and 17th in the league in sacks in their three seasons under Rex Ryan. Calvin Pace is considered their best pass rusher, but hasn’t had more than six sacks in each of their past two seasons. It prompted New York to turn to Aaron Maybin last year, who posted six sacks in a specialty role.
Miami has Cameron Wake, who has 22.5 sacks over the past two seasons, but complementary pass rusher Jason Taylor (7 sacks) retired. Many believe the Dolphins will use their eighth pick in the draft this spring on a pass rusher.
Granted, the other three AFC East clubs have time to address their defensive fronts, but as things sit right now, no team in the division has the across the board pass rush talent that Buffalo possesses on their defensive line.
“I can’t put a percentage on how much better we are but I know we’re appreciatively better and I know that we will get more pressure on the passer,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “I don’t think there’s any question about that. We got a lot better and I think our pass rush has improved greatly.”
While most won’t debate Mario Williams’ pass rushing exploits, or Mark Anderson’s for that matter, few might be aware of what Buffalo’s interior defensive linemen are capable of as pass rushers.
“I think the talent is definitely going to allow us to compete,” said Anderson. “We have a long way to go and a lot of work to do. Everybody has to mesh and jell and get on the same page. Starting at OTAs and training camp we’ll have to get on the same page and work hard and when things start going right you’ll be able to tell on the field.”
The true wild card is
It’s a pass rush contingent that no team in the division can rival.
In a league that’s turning more and more to the passing game Buffalo’s re-invented pass rush could pay handsome dividends when it comes to success in the team’s six division contests. Defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt however, would rather wait and let the results on the field do the talking.
“Optimistically we’re all encouraged that it’s going to happen,” said Wannstedt. “We just don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We’ve got to develop some of these younger players and if that happens shifting the landscape will take care of itself.”