Now that the NFL draft is behind us as and I look around the AFC
East it is very clear to me that this is by far heading into the 2018 season one
of the worst divisions in football. Yes, I know the Bills and Jets went “all in” to get their franchise
quarterbacks of the future and I give them credit for doing so. Long-term and big picture that
is the right move and I am not knocking them for being bold and making such a
move. But in the short-term neither team did much to improve themselves and I
think will both be in store for a long season in 2018. They aren’t alone though as the Patriots and Dolphins also had a head scratching offseason that makes you wonder what the end game is for those teams as well. Let’s look around at the landscape of the AFC East as we head into the 2018
the franchise all others are measured by, the Patriots. On paper they are still
by far and away the best team inside this division. With that said though I do
question some of the moves they have made this past offseason and do wonder out
loud are they any better than last year and could they in fact be worse?
Malcom Butler, Danny Amendola, Brandin Cooks just to name a few. And who did
they bring in to replace them, umm, Jeremy Hill? It’s a list of who’s who of
winning the Super Bowl and say what was their weak spot and where they need to
improve? Clearly it was their defense as they were ranked 30th in
passing defense and 20th in rushing defense. The Patriots couldn’t
stop anybody last season, so you would think the Pats would look to bring in
some new blood and talent on that side of the ball to correct things, right?
Well WRONG! With two picks in Round 1 the Patriots drafted an offensive lineman
and a running back. In the 2nd round they did select a CB who can
help them right away but then the Patriots traded away all their other early
round picks for picks in the 2019 draft. Not exactly a “win now” type of move
if you ask me. And it wasn’t until Round 5 and later until the Patriots took
flyers on linebackers and when you’re in round 5 you are taking guys who
probably won’t help you right away.
in that they let go or didn’t fight to keep a lot of very good players and they
did next to nothing to improve one of the worst defenses in the entire NFL.
They are still the Patriots and will still win this division because the other three
teams can’t get out of their own way, but I think this team hasn’t improved at
all and might be regressing some.
to move on and in a different direction. I also understand they needed to go
get their franchise QB and their quarterback of the future, so mission
accomplished with selecting Josh Allen. And I don’t even mind what Buffalo gave
up moving up in Round 1 to select him. With that said though this team has a
ton of holes they needed to fill, and I am not sure they have fully addressed
them this offseason.
them for making the playoffs in 2017. Let’s be honest though they made the
playoffs because the AFC was downright awful last year, and we saw this Bills
team unable to move the ball at all in the playoffs last season. Their WR unit
was dreadful, they don’t get much out of their tight end position, and LeSean
McCoy isn’t getting any younger.
3, yes 3, starters on their offensive line from last years roster and this
roster is a mess. Josh Allen is a long-term answer at quarterback, so I give
them credit for solving that problem. But to ignore the wide receiver position and
think Zay Jones and Kelvin Benjamin are #1 and #2 WR’s on any NFL team is
laughable. I know the Richie Incognito retirement hit the Bills out of left
field but to do nothing to address any of the offensive line issues early in
this draft is head scratching.
rounds (two picks in each round) and came away with just three players. Two picks
in round 1 and one of the final picks in round 3. For an aging roster with a
bunch of holes that isn’t good enough. I get the trade to move up and land the
quarterback, but after that I think the Bills dropped the ball and should have
been looking to move down and get back some picks to fill the numerous holes
this roster has.
wrapped up into one short little saying. The Dolphins lost Jarvis Landry and
replaced him with Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola. The jury is out on how that
will work out but not a crazy approach to take. Mike Pouncey was released and
that is addition by subtraction to anyone who has seen Pouncey play in recent
years. Ndamukong Suh was released and has been replaced with Akeem Spence and
yeah that’s a downgrade. But overall the Dolphins roster lost a couple big name players
and added numerous not so big named pieces to pick up the slack.
Minkah Fitzpatrick and Mike Gesicki should make an immediate impact on the
field and help this team win games right away from day one. The selections after
those two are bit more of a project and we will see how those guys play out in
Dolphins standards) in that no big name free agent signings. No controversies
of any kind to be that black cloud hanging over the organization. Miami ran off
some big-name players like Suh and Landry and are trying to replace them with
multiple, less talented, cheaper players and going with the “quantity over quality”
approach. Which at times has worked in the NFL so I am not knocking this
approach by any means.
back to haunt them is address the #2 quarterback position. Brock Osweiler,
Bryce Petty, and David Fales might make Dolphins fans wish they had Jay Cutler
under center should something happen to Tannehill again. If Tannehill goes down
again in training camp or early in the season, then this team will struggle to
win 2 games in 2018 and Adam Gase, Mike Tannenbaum, and Chris Grier will surly be fired.
quarterback that did everything in their power to land that quarterback. Sam Darnold is the real deal and will be very
good in time. But he, nor will the Jets offense, be any good right away. The NY
Jets have literally nothing at the skill positions heading into 2018 and did
next to nothing to address this in this past offseason or draft. The top WR’s on
the Jets roster are Robbie Anderson (who is facing a long NFL suspension) and Quincy
Enunwa. Anderson is a head case who would have a tough time being a #3 WR on
most teams in this league and Enunwa wouldn’t make the roster of most NFL
teams. At running back it’s Browns cast-off Isiah Crowell who doesn’t put fear into anyone. And at tight end
their top guy is Jordan Leggett. Not exactly the 2000 St. Louis Rams offense
addition of Trumaine Johnson. The linebackers are poor, and the defensive line
is just ok. Again, I understand the Jets needing to give up a ton of picks to
get their franchise QB and I am not knocking them for doing it but this is a
total rebuilding job and the Jets are 2-3 years away. They do have over $100
million in cap space come 2019 and should make a bunch of big named signings
then but in 2018 they will be bad.
though their lack of addressing the defensive side of the ball might have their
road to the Super Bowl be more of a challenge this year. As you will have a Titans team that
is ascending, Houston will get healthy and a lot of their star players back, Pittsburgh
is still Pittsburgh, and out West you have a few quality teams which I am sure
one will separate themselves from the pack and make a run in 2018. The Bills and Jets are starting the early
phase of a long rebuild and I think in time they might have quarterbacks
nobody will want to face but in the short term and in 2018 those teams will be
a bit of a mess and have their growing pains. Then you have Miami
which as I said if Ryan Tannehill is healthy look out as they have the roster
to give opponents fits week in and week out. If Tannehill can’t stay on the
field then this is one of the three worst teams in the league due to Miami’s
lack of a legitimate back-up quarterback.