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Around the AFC East: Part III

It's now time for the final part of this week's "Around the AFC East." Let's now focus on the New England Patriots. Here's Pats Pulpit's own tommassee:

Phinsider: Last season, Ty Warren really came into his own, piling up 84 total tackles and 7.5 sacks. With him, Richard Seymour, and Vince Wilfork, how good can this defensive line be and do they get overshadowed because of the outstanding play from the LB group?

Pats Pulpit: I guess my question to you would be: Overshadowed according to whom?

This might be one of the great lines in the history of the 3-4 defense. (Obviously, hard to compare to a great 5-3 or other alignment, since they would have one or two additional linemen.) Warren came into his own as opposing offenses dedicated more resources to holding off Richard Seymour's side of the line, where he's paired so well with nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

As Warren's reputation grows, teams will have to decide whether to let Warren run wild, or let up on Seymour. Or Wilfork. But they still have to account for linebackers Adalius Thomas and Rosevelt Colvin. And if they concentrate on them, that frees up Seymour. Or Wilfork. Or Warren.

One of the few conventions commentators have gotten right over the last few years is divide the defense into two main parts: the backfield and the "front seven," which consist of the defensive linemen and the linebackers. In New England, the two groups that make up the front seven have become increasingly inseparable. You simply cannot talk about the line without talking about the linebackers and vice-versa. One group does not overshadow the other. They're synergistic or symbiotic or whatever you want to term it.

How good can they be? If they stay healthy, and the Patriots go deep into the playoffs, you just might be hearing them mentioned in the same breath as some of the great defense fronts ever.

My take: First, let me clarify. I'm not saying the LB core of New England last year was all that great. But when fans, other than Pats' fans, think about New England's defense, you generally don't think about the big guys up front. Instead, you think about guys like Rosie Colvin and Teddy Bruschi. So my point here was how those 3 outstanding defensive lineman don't really get they attention they deserve.

Moving on, one point that tommassee made that I think was a great point is how, especially when talking about 3-4 defenses, it's important to group the entire front 7 together as one unit. As Dolphin fans, most of us understand that seeing as how Jason Taylor was splitting time between DE and OLB. Like tommassee said, it's all about how the entire front 7 compliment each other and I think that both the Dolphins and the Patriots have potentially great front 7s. As for whose is better, you'd have to give the edge to New England because of how accomplished their 3 down lineman are. We don't know what to expect out of Matt Roth as a full-time starter. But I'd take Miami's group of linebackers over New England's anyday of the week. In fact, I don't see any LB group that can say they are clearly better than Miami's group of JT, Zach, Channing, and Joey Porter. But what seperates New England's front 7 and Miami's is those talented down lineman of New England.

As always, remember to head over to Pats Pulpit to see my response to tommassee's question.

That's all for this week's installment of "Around the AFC East." If you have a question you think would make a good question for me to ask any of the other 3 bloggers, feel free to e-mail it to me at phinsider@gmail.com.

Have a good weekend, all!