By Adam Nardelli | NY Giants Rush Contributor
Giants 2015 schedule break down: AFC East
In Part 1 of the series looking at the divisions the Giants will face off with in 2015, the NFC South was chronicled. Part 2 will appropriately focus on the AFC East, the inter-conference division the Giants and the rest of their NFC East counterparts will take on this fall.
On paper, the AFC East looks to be the most competitive it’s been in years with the off-season additions the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins have pulled off, but for now the division still goes through New England, and that’s where we’ll start.
The defending AFC East and Super Bowl Champion Patriots sure have lost some key pieces on defense in Darelle Revis, Vince Wilfork, and Brandon Browner. The re-signing of Safety Devin McCourty helps, but his job undoubtedly got harder with the absence of the big and physical corner backs in Revis and Browner playing alongside of him.
On offense, the loss of Shane Vereen’s unique ability to get open out of the backfield could be tough to replace this year, but the team still has the best Tight End in the NFL in Rob Gronkowski.
The additions in the Linebacker corps in J.T. Thomas and Jonathan Casillas could provide support in covering Gronk, but most likely the Giants need a Safety with enough speed to stay in front of the league’s most dangerous Tight End.
Playing through the AFC East doesn’t get any easier when the Giants have to travel to western New York to play the new look Buffalo Bills. Buffalo, who finished with a winning-record for the first time in a decade and was in playoff contention until week 16. The team lost Linebacker Kiko Alonzo to the Eagles who was third in combined tackles in 2013, but he missed all of last season with an ACL tear.
Still, Buffalo managed to finish third in total defense, and re-signed Defensive End Jerry Huges. The addition of LeSean McCoy adds a weapon out of the backfield the Bills were supposed to have with CJ Spiller, and as long as Sammy Watkins, and new additions Charles Clay and Percy Harvin can all stay healthy, Rex Ryan will have the talent on offense any defensive-minded coach would dream about having.
The Miami Dolphins finished 8-8 in 2014, losing three of their last four games bumping them out of playoff contention. Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh will draw double teams and dominate offensive lineman…opening up pathways for Cameron Wake to rush the passer.
Wake is one of the better defensive ends in the league, racking up 11.5 sacks last season. The presence of Suh will also make cornerback Brent Grimes job easier, who is already one of the most underrated players at his position in the league. Grimes snagged 5 interceptions last season while on his way to his second straight Pro Bowl.
Offensively, Ryan Tannehill has consistently gotten a little better each year, and Running Back Lamar Miller improved his rushing total by almost 400 yards from 2013 to 2014. Rookie Jarvis Landry also showed he can be a threat at Wide Receiver, and should only get better.
The 4-12 New York Jets made one of the biggest splash moves in all of free agency adding Darelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine.
To say Eli will have some difficulty throwing the ball down the field is somewhat of an understatement. Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson are two of the best young defensive lineman in the league, and the team re-signed Inside Linebacker David Harris to keep the heart of the defense intact.
What it comes down to for the Jets is the play of the quarterback. Will they draft a quarterback? Will they go into training camp with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith battling for the job? Either way, whoever the quarterback is will have an improved receiving corps to throw to with the addition of Brandon Marshall through a trade with Chicago. The Jets look to be better in most aspects, and will be no walk in the park for the Giants.