The New England Patriots almost always own the various All-AFC East Teams that are created, and I want to take a look at the picks of the Pro Football Focus in their construction of the 2012 regular season’s All-AFC East Team. Like most people, I have a ton of respect for the guys at PFF and what they do, and I honestly think that they are the best football site on the web.
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Here is how their list broke down by team:
New England Patriots: 8
Buffalo Bills: 6
Miami Dolphins: 7
New York Jets: 5
Below is a quick list of who made it for the Patriots and my thoughts on each selection made by PFF.
QB Tom Brady– This one was obvious, and Khaled Elsayed pretty much summed it up. I never fully fathomed that Tom Brady has thrown 26 more touchdowns than interceptions this season, which is one of the stats Elsayed mentions. The rest of the quarterbacks in the division are underwhelming, save for Ryan Tannehill who showed plenty of potential for the Miami Dolphins.
TE Rob Gronkowski– Elsayed notes that PFF rated Gronkowski as their top tight end despite the fact that he missed a large chunk of the year due to a broken arm. Gronk is the best tight end in the league at everything, because he is like another offensive lineman with his proficiency as both a pass and run blocker. He is also agile, athletic, and a ridiculously talented receiving threat.
WR Wes Welker– The best slot receiver in the game was the star of the AFC East’s triumvirate of 1,000-yard wide receivers, and he continues to be one of the top ten wideouts in the game. There is nobody who moves the chains better than Welker.
RT Sebastian Vollmer– Nate Solder missed the cut, but the best right tackle in the league this year didn’t. Sebastian Vollmer has been a mauling run blocker and a steady pass protector on the right side, and he is one of the very strong right tackles in this league. Vollmer’s only poor games came when he was struggling mightily with injuries.
DE Chandler Jones– Not bad for a rookie. Chandler Jones isn’t the best pass rusher around, but he is solid and bounced back nicely over the past two weeks after that ankle injury that looked like it was really nagging Jones. The biggest thing to note about Jones is his ability against the run, because he is already one of the elite run-stopping DEs in the NFL.
LB Jerod Mayo– Brandon Spikes just missed the cut, and he might have been robbed a little bit by PFF, but I’m willing to keep my cool due to Mayo’s selection. He has been one of the best linebackers in the game and deserves to make you First-Team All-Pro, because he has improved in pass coverage. Mayo continues to rack up tackles as the rangiest linebacker in the league, and he is also a solid blitzer and brings excellent leadership to the table. More importantly, he is one of the best players in the game in run defense and should no longer carry the “overrated” tag. His play this year has warranted that being removed, because he is now one of the true elite LBs in this league. Elsayed notes that PFF rated him as the 2nd best 4-3 OLB behind only DPOY candidate Von Miller.
S Devin McCourty– Devin McCourty made the list as a corner, largely because the AFC East already has two other top safeties in Reshad Jones and Jairus Byrd. He allowed a QB Rating of just around 78 points, but McCourty’s work as a safety (while solid at corner) has been even more impressive.
K Stephen Gostkowski– I trust in Gostkowski, and I trust even more in him now that PFF has given him a vote of confidence. His kick-offs are also a thing of beauty, and I have no concerns about him going forward. I love this guy.
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