The Buffalo Bills are the only AFC East team unsettled at left tackle, a fact that's underscored by research Khaled Elsayed recently completed at the wonderful football analysis site, ProFootballFocus.com.
LongThe rest of the division looks outfitted for a long while.
Elsayed has broken down every play to determine a metric called "pass blocking productivity" for every offensive lineman. ProFootballFocus.com devised a formula that essentially takes the number of sacks, quarterback hits and pressures allowed, then divides them by the number of pass plays.
What we learn is three AFC East left tackles are among the league's six toughest to beat, and they're all going to be around.
Miami Dolphins second-year star Jake Long finished with the best PBP rating. In limited time, New England Patriots rookie Sebastian Vollmer ranked fifth. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, a fourth-year pro for the New York Jets, was sixth.
ProFootballFocus.com put Long down for four sacks, five QB hits and nine pressures. Vollmer didn't allow any sacks at left tackle, but one at right tackle. He also gave up one QB hit and 14 pressures combined in 14 games, including the postseason. Ferguson gave up six sacks, three QB hits and 14 pressures in 19 games.
The Patriots' usual left tackle, veteran Matt Light, finished around the middle of the pack. But Vollmer gives them an impressive option for the long-term.
Bills left tackle Demetrius Bell was dead last in PBP rating. In eight games, ProFootballFocus.com charged Bell with five sacks, seven QB hits and 18 pressures. Bell also was one of the most penalized players in the NFL before an injury ended his season at Week 13.
As Elsayed points out, Bills fans might be even more frustrated to know the Pro Bowler they traded to the Philadelphia Eagles a year ago, Jason Peters, finished eighth (seven sacks, five QB hits and 14 pressures in 17 games).
On the right side, Jets tackle Damien Woody ranked fourth and Miami Dolphins tackle Vernon Carey sixth in the league.
ProFootballFocus.com blamed Woody for three sacks, one QB hit and 15 pressures. It assigned four sacks, five QB hits and 21 pressures to Carey.