AFC East: Jared Allen

How many D players better than Revis?

July, 6, 2011
7/06/11
9:02
AM ET
Herm Edwards and Skip Bayless didn't stop arguing after they compared their top five offensive players on "First Take." They debated the other side of scrimmage, too.

New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis made both lists. Edwards, a former NFL defensive back, rated Revis fourth, one slot ahead of Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha as the best of that position. Bayless ranked Revis third.

The eye-opener was Edwards' omission of Pittsburgh Steelers star Troy Polamalu (a technical gaffe notwithstanding), while putting Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed third. Polamalu was second on Bayless' list.

Cameron Wake apparently still a sleeper

March, 22, 2011
3/22/11
12:00
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Seven weeks ago, I disagreed with the notion some readers supported, that Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Cameron Wake deserved to be considered a legitimate candidate for the Associated Press 2010 Defensive Player of the Year Award.

I don't believe he was a complete enough defender for that prestigious accolade. But the one thing Wake does supremely well is rush the passer.

Even so, Wake barely cracked this week's ESPN.com positional power rankings -- for pass-rushers. We didn't rank players based on run-stuffing or pass-coverage. Just pass-rushing.

Wake didn't get as much respect as I thought he should've.

Wake came in 10th in our power rankings because I rated him fourth. Three panelists didn't put him on their ballots at all. One ranked him ninth. Three ranked him 10th.

For the record, this was my ballot:
  1. DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker
  2. Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker
  3. Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers outside linebacker
  4. Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins outside linebacker
  5. Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings defensive end
  6. John Abraham, Atlanta Falcons defensive end
  7. Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears defensive end
  8. Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis Colts defensive end
  9. Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker
  10. Chris Long, St. Louis Rams defensive end

Wake finished third in the NFL with 14 sacks. He was the most dangerous edge rusher in the AFC East by a big margin. Opponents had to game plan to stop him.

While I don't lean too heavily on stats while putting together my weekly positional power rankings, there are a handful of numbers you want to look for when it comes to pass-rushers. Sacks are the NFL's only official stats that are applicable. Other figures such as quarterback hits and hurries must be tracked by analytical outfits such as Football Outsiders.

Football Outsiders charted Wake third in the NFL with 15 quarterback hits (not counting sacks) and fourth with 38 hurries.

What more can you say?

Other divergences on my ballot included rating Freeney lower than any other panelist, omitting both Steelers outside linebackers, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, and being the lone voter to include Long.

The reason Long made my list was because he was always around the quarterback last year. He had a respectable 10 sacks, but he led the NFL with 41.5 hurries and was tied for sixth with 14 QB hits in the Football Outsiders data.

Soggy halftime thoughts from Vikes-Jets

October, 11, 2010
10/11/10
10:50
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Halftime notes from the Meadowlands, where the New York Jets are beating the Minnesota Vikings 9-0:
  • The game was delayed by lightning in the area. The rain lessened until late in the second quarter, and then the skies opened like mad.
  • ESPN Stats & Information pointed out on the "Monday Night Live" chat (still live through the end of the game) that Mark Sanchez and Michael Vick are the only two NFL quarterbacks with at least 25 attempts and no interceptions this season.
  • The Vikings' offense doesn't look any different with Randy Moss running deep. Brett Favre has targeted Moss twice, but they failed to connect until there was 4:30 left in the second quarter. Moss has just that one grab for 7 yards.
  • Favre's stat line: 3-of-7 for 31 yards, two sacks for 16 yards and a lost fumble.
  • The Jets' defense has lived up to its billing. They have held the Vikings to 51 net yards and no third-down conversions.
  • Rex Ryan can't be happy with the penalties. The Jets have been flagged five times for 50 yards already.
  • Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson continues to amaze. He is outperforming Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson so far. Tomlinson has 61 yards on 10 carries against the league's ninth-rated run defense. He also has four catches for 16 yards. Peterson has eight carries for 34 yards and no receptions.
  • Jets receiver Santonio Holmes hasn't made a huge impact, but he has come close. Sanchez has tried to find him deep a few times, but underthrew him on what could have been a 44-yard touchdown up the left sideline. Vikings cornerback Asher Allen broke up a potential long gain down the right sideline.
  • On the "Monday Night Live" chat, we wondered how many future Hall of Famers are on the field in this game. Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, maybe Darrelle Revis and Nick Mangold for the Jets ... Favre, Moss, Peterson, Steve Hutchinson, maybe Jared Allen and Kevin Williams for the Vikings ... Did we miss any?

Bills host Vikings DT Jimmy Kennedy

March, 10, 2010
3/10/10
9:38
PM ET
The Buffalo Bills have been slow to act in free agency. That's not unusual for them, and new general manager Buddy Nix has stated his intention to build through the draft.

But this year the Bills have many holes to fill. They're overhauling their defense, converting to a 3-4. Suitable personnel is missing.

The Bills finally might act on their defensive conversion. Jason La Canfora of NFL Network reports the Bills will host defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy on Thursday.

Can the 6-foot-5, 320-pound Kennedy handle the Bills' opening at nose tackle?

The Bills would have to project how he'd look at nose tackle because the four teams Kennedy has played for operate out of 4-3 defenses.

Kennedy's career has been a disappointment. The St. Louis Rams drafted him 12th overall in 2003. He has been with five teams (released by the Denver Broncos in 2007 before getting into a game) and has started only 31 games.

He is coming off a decent season with the Minnesota Vikings. They picked him up in late 2008 as an emergency replacement when the Williams Wall (defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams) faced suspensions for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Kennedy was the primary backup in 2009 and, as NFC blogger Kevin Seifert writes, "made more plays than you would think, but probably had something to do with at least one Williams and Jared Allen usually being on the field with him."

Kennedy recorded 18 tackles, three sacks, four tackles for losses and seven hurries in the regular season. In three postseason games, he notched three tackles and one sack.

Name the player: Add anyone to Bills' roster

January, 29, 2009
1/29/09
12:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

It would be like letting loose an 8-year-old in FAO Schwartz and telling him he could have anything he wants from the shelves, but only one item.

That would be a long, painstaking process.

To round out our AFC East project, I ask Buffalo Bills fans:

If money, contracts and salary-cap restraints were no object, and you could choose any player in the NFL to add to your team, whom would you acquire?

There are too many positions to consider, any number of decisions would be correct.

What about Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and moving Lee Evans to the No. 2 position?

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning because you know, unlike Trent Edwards, he consistently will play at an elite level and probably start all 16 games?

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates to fill an offensive role the Bills haven't had? Denver Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady, allowing them to move Jason Peters to the right side? New York Giants center Shaun O'Hara to anchor the line?

On the other side of the ball, Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth or Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen would facilitate a pass rush that was non-existent in 2008. Perhaps Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed is the way to go.

Please share your thoughts below or drop a line in my AFC East mailbag. I will gather the responses and make a selection for each team Monday based on what you have to say.

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