The NFC East arguably has the best quartet of right-side pass rushers in the NFL in DeMarcus Ware, Trent Cole, Osi Umenyiora, and Brian Orakpo. Ware is one of the best defenders in the game, Cole is both an elite run-stopper and very good pass rusher, Umenyiora broke the single-season record for forced fumbles in 2010, and Orakpo has two Pro Bowl appearances in his first two years in the league. Naturally, having a great left tackle to offset that quartet of elite players is a necessity in the NFC East.
Last season, in addition to facing the great pass rushers in their own division, the NFC East teams faced all the AFC South teams, as well as the NFC North teams, two divisions that are also chock full of excellent pass rushers, with players like Dwight Freeney, Mario Williams, Julius Peppers, and Jared Allen.
This year, it gets much easier for the NFC East’s left tackles, as the NFC East plays the AFC East and the NFC West. The AFC East is almost completely devoid of good pass rushers. The only major threat in the AFC East is Cameron Wake, but Wake rushes off the left side, so he’ll be the RT’s headache. The NFC West has a few talented pass rushers in James Hall of the Rams and Justin Smith of the 49ers, but they’re not the on the same level as Peppers and Allen, at least from a pass rusher perspective. Chris Clemons of the Seahawks also put up good numbers last season, but let’s not get carried away there.
Jason Peters returns as the Eagles’ starting LT, after an excellent campaign in 2010. Doug Free also had a very good 2010, should have been franchised, wasn’t, and is now likely going to be an unrestricted free agent. It remains to be seen if the Cowboys can retain Free, but for now we’ll just assume he’ll stay in Dallas. Trent Williams returns as the starting LT in his 2nd season in DC. And finally, it’s likely that David Diehl will return as the LT, even if Giants fans are hopeful that William Beatty is ready to take over Diehl’s spot.
Here are the non-divisional pass rushers they’ll primarily face off against in 2011:
|4||Lions||Kyle Vanden Bosch (11 games)||4||2|
|10||Bills||Marcell Dareus (3-4? 4-3?)||N/A||N/A|
|15||Buccaneers||Adrian Clayborn (Rookie)||N/A||N/A|
*For the Buccaneers, I projected first round pick Adrian Clayborn to win the RDE job over incumbent Stylez G White. For the Bills, I admit 100% cluelessness. Are they running a 3-4? A 4-3? They began the season last year running a 3-4, then aborted that plan during the season and went back to the 4-3. If they run a 4-3, Dareus will play DT, in which case I have absolutely no clue who will play RDE. If they go 3-4, Dareus would likely be the RDE. Also really had to stretch to pick a player for the Pats. Ninkovich had the best numbers of the Pats defenders that rush off the right side, so I went with him.
(Eagles, Giants, and Redskins opponents after the jump)…
|5||Bills||Marcell Dareus (3-4? 4-3?)||N/A||N/A|
In addition to playing the NFC East teams twice, the AFC East, and the NFC West, each NFC East team plays the team in the NFC South and NFC North that finished in the same position in their respective divisions. Jason Peters will draw the toughest assignments from those two games, that fill out the schedule, as he’ll have to face Julius Peppers of the Bears and John Abraham of the Falcons.
|6||Bills||Marcell Dareus (3-4? 4-3?)||N/A||N/A|
*Jenkins is an unrestricted free agent.
|8||Bills||Marcell Dareus (3-4? 4-3?)||N/A||N/A|
Just like Jason Peters, Trent Williams gets a tough draw in the “two games that fill out the schedule,” as he’ll have to face Jared Allen of the Vikes and Charles Johnson of the Panthers.