The AFC North can no longer claim the best defenses in the NFL. The AFC East can challenge with defensive-minded coaches and are upping their ante this upcoming season.

The AFC East can claim the defensive prowess of Bill Belichick, Jeff Ulbrich and Robert Saleh, Leslie Frazier (on sabbatical), and Sean McDermott.

When the Miami Dolphins lost Brian Flores, they became the defacto weak link on defense, even with Flores-minded Josh Boyer at the helm—all that is about to change.

AFC EAST DEFENSE

Team

Rush Yards/G Allowed

Pass Yards/G Allowed

Yards/G Allowed

Points/G Allowed

Sacks

Buffalo Bills

104.6

214.6

319.1

17.9

40

Miami Dolphins

103.0

234.8

337.8

23.5

40

New England Patriots

105.5

216.5

322.0

20.4

54

New York Jets

121.6

189.4

311.1

18.6

45

 

DEFENSIVE COORDINATORS IN THE AFC EAST

The AFC East will remain almost status quo.

The Jets will come with some new offensive coaches, but for defensive status quo is the way to go:

  • Jeff Ulbrich — Defensive coordinator
  • Robert Saleh — Head Coach

The Patriots list:

  • Steve Belichick — Linebackers
  • Jerod Mayo — Linebackers
  • DeMarcus Covington — Defensive Line
  • Brian Belichick — Safeties
  • Mike Pellegrino — Cornerback

Bill Belichick is the head coach and defensive guru or the, for all practical purposes, the defensive coordinator.

The Bills are an interesting lot. Frazier is taking “a year off from coaching.” The Bills have yet to name a replacement. It isn’t far-fetched to believe the head coach will also call the defensive plays.

  • Bobby Babich — Linebackers
  • John Butler — Defensive Backs, Passing Game Coordinator
  • Joe Danna — Safeties
  • Jaylon Finner — Defensive Quality Control
  • Al Holcomb — Senior Defensive Assistant
  • Eric Washington — Senior Defensive Assistant/Defensive Line
  • Marcus West — Assistant Defensive Line

Sean McDermott is the head coach, and what we are thinking now is a defensive play caller for the 2023 season.

AND NOW INTRODUCING “THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK”

VIC FANGIO

Yes, Fangio will replace Josh Boyer as the defensive coordinator in Miami.

Fangio was a “special consultant” for the Philadelphia Eagles last season. He signed a two-week contract at the end of the season to be a special consultant for the Eagles during the Super Bowl. He would have been eligible for a Super Bowl ring if they had won.

This will change the Miami Dolphins’ defense which just acquired Jalen Ramsey.

Ramsey on the deal

https://twitter.com/CameronWolfe/status/1635005816205082624?t=_wYkZ4YZnGTFFJPMTa1LZQ&s=03

 

The defensive philosophy and schemes will all be different.

Last season under Boyer, the defense wanted to beat the opposing offenses with pressure. Boyer’s defense existed to blitz excessively, live in man coverage, and hardly ever rotate the safeties post-snap. Only two teams had a higher blitz rate than Miami’s 33.3%.

The Dolphins’ defense had the fewest takeaways (14) last season and gave up the ninth most points per game (23.5).

Fangio’s defenses exist to limit explosive plays. They rely on zone coverage and rarely blitz. In his three years as the Denver Broncos head coach (where he also called defensive plays), the Broncos ranked 23rd (24%), 18th (27.9%), and 15th (25.3%) in blitz rate.

Instead of beating the opposing offense with pressure, Fangio’s defenses attempt to outsmart the opposing offenses with the scheme. Generally showing two-high safeties before the snap and then rotating them into a different look post-snap. In Fangio’s last season with the Broncos (2021), the Broncos finished first in the NFL using a two-high safety shell. Last season Miami finished last in the NFL in using two-high safety shell usage.

Their use of the defensive line will also change. Although both employ a similar defensive front, what they ask of their defensive linemen will differ.

Boyer’s defensive line utilizes two gaps versus the run. In contrast, Fangio’s runs a 6-1 tilt variation. It is designed to counter modern spread offenses. The defensive linemen play “gap and a half.” The idea is to stack six defenders on the line of scrimmage and prevent the offensive line from winning a gap when they step together on a zone run.

THE IDP WINDFALL

If you are playing IDP (and you should), here are three players you should now be targeting.

Bradley Chubb, Edge

Having played with Fangio in Denver, Chubb is familiar with Fangio and the system.

Unfortunately, when he played under Fangio, Chubb was injured a lot of the time. He ended up playing only 25 games in three seasons and had 8.5 sacks in those three seasons.

Fangio’s “gap and a half” system will make Chubb a more successful pass rusher.

Chubb should be on the radar to produce double-digit sacks.

Jevon Holland, Safety

Last season Holland had one quarterback hit, two interceptions, seven passes defended, 1.5 sacks, and 96 total tackles.

Now with Fangio’s quarters-heavy scheme, Holland will play more aggressively. He will win from the slot cover or deep zones. Holland will also be allowed to play all over the field.

Fangio’s quarters’ scheme denies the offense the chance to create big plays.

Jaelan Phillips, Linebacker

Phillips finished last season with seven sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and 61 total tackles.

Now in Fangio’s defense, Phillips and Chubb will be on edge. There are realistic expectations of double-digit sacks for both players.

IDP POINTS

Last season the highest-scoring IDP player in Miami was Christian Wilkins. Wilkins averaged 11.4 fantasy points per game. Wilkins finished the season as DL5 in fantasy points.

Phillips finished as DL31 averaging 7.8 fantasy points per game.

Jevon Holland finished the season as DB21 averaging 9.4 fantasy points per game.

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