Your 2010 All-AFC East team revealed
January, 26, 2011
By Tim Graham | ESPN.com
Getty Images, US PresswireThere was enough room on the All-AFC East team for nose tackles Vince Wilfork and Kyle Williams.Reader input didn't make compiling the 2010 All-AFC East team a simple process.
Despite your tremendous response to help me assemble the quintessential roster, I had to make an executive decision, break a deadlock, defend one of my no-brainer selections and throw out some ballots because of shenanigans.
In the end, we have an All-AFC East squad everybody should be satisfied with.
We began the process a week ago, when I chose 10 players I believed were automatic. The other 17 positions were for you to vote upon. You didn't disappoint.
There were some great races, most notably at left tackle and nose tackle.
As with any voting process on the AFC East blog, I always can be convinced to move from a stance. My instructions were to vote for one nose tackle for a 3-4 scheme with emphasis that New England Patriots keystone Vince Wilfork and Buffalo Bills standout Kyle Williams must be considered nose tackles because that's how each team identifies him.
But enough readers made the case that Wilfork and Williams played elsewhere along the line so frequently that they should be eligible for some quasi position. I do appreciate the point.
The Patriots' official game-by-game player participation record says Wilfork started eight games at defensive end. Williams started every game at nose tackle (12) or defensive tackle (four).
I decided to add Wilfork and Williams as "defensive tackles" on a defensive front with New York Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis, who received an avalanche of votes. But I didn't want to slight the No. 2 defensive end, Kendall Langford of the Miami Dolphins. Langford received a healthy number of votes. Too many to dismiss.
That left me with a dilemma: How can I honor four defensive linemen and still maintain a 3-4 alignment? I took the easy way out. I added a 12th defender. I'm not thrilled with my final decision, but it's an appropriate way to give proper credit where it's due.
On the other side of scrimmage, Dolphins left tackle Jake Long and Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson finished in a tie, forcing me to make the call. Each was selected to be a Pro Bowl starter. Long was voted All-Pro.
I chose Long. He played hurt for much of the season. He slipped on plays here or there, but he mostly remained dominant.
A few readers took me to task for my coronation of Dolphins punter Brandon Fields without allowing a vote because Jets punter Steve Weatherford had a great season. Weatherford tied an NFL record with 42 punts inside the 20-yard line. He was impressive.
But I found Fields more remarkable this year. He ranked fourth with a 46.2-yard average (3.6 yards longer than Weatherford). Fields' net average of 37.8 yards was only 0.3 yards shorter than Weatherford's, but the Dolphins were atrocious on special-teams protection and coverage. They fired their special-teams coordinator after Week 4. Fields had two punts blocked and one returned for a touchdown.
The Jets have venerable special-teams coach Mike Westhoff and sensational coverage men, as illustrated by four Jets receiving at least two votes for the special-teams position on the All-AFC East team.
And it's not often a punter is MVP of a game, but Fields certainly was against the Jets in Week 14.
There were some surprises in the balloting.
Bills receiver Steve Johnson ran away with one of the two available spots, but I didn't expect Santonio Holmes to take the other one so handily over teammate Braylon Edwards or Patriots star Wes Welker.
I assumed Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski would win, but in a close race, especially with the possibility of splitting votes with teammate Aaron Hernandez. Gronkowski crushed everyone else. He had four times as many votes as his closest competition, Dustin Keller of the Jets.
Bills linebacker Arthur Moats finished a distant second to Calvin Pace. But I found it amusing that almost every time a vote came in for him, the reader stipulated it was because Moats injured Brett Favre.
Patriots rookie Devin McCourty had six times as many votes as Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis for the position opposite Jets star Darrelle Revis. Antonio Cromartie wasn't remotely in the race.
The most balanced voting happened at the safety positions. Patriots strong safety Brandon Meriweather edged out Jim Leonhard of the Jets, with Donte Whitner of the Bills closely behind in third.
Bills free safety Jairus Byrd, a Pro Bowler as a rookie in 2009, accumulated just 14 more votes than Patrick Chung of the Patriots.
The special-teams race was fun to track. Thirteen players received at least one vote, with Jets hitter Eric Smith barely beating teammate James Ihedigbo and Bills fullback Corey McIntyre.
1:00 PM ET New Orleans Atlanta 1:00 PM ET Minnesota St. Louis 1:00 PM ET Cleveland Pittsburgh 1:00 PM ET Jacksonville Philadelphia 1:00 PM ET Oakland New York 1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Baltimore 1:00 PM ET Buffalo Chicago 1:00 PM ET Washington Houston 1:00 PM ET Tennessee Kansas City 1:00 PM ET New England Miami 4:25 PM ET Carolina Tampa Bay 4:25 PM ET San Francisco Dallas 8:30 PM ET Indianapolis Denver