Now that the NFL Draft is over and most of the off-season work is done, it’s time to see how the Miami Dolphins look against the rest of the AFC East.

Teams will still look for lower-priced free agents and will probably cut players depending on how the draft went. However, teams are mostly tight against the salary cap and are focusing on signing their draft class, so rosters are set.  

The Dolphins spent a lot of their resources via free agency, and trading draft picks to upgrade the offense. The Dolphins upgraded their offensive line signing Terron Armstead and Connor Williams. The Dolphins didn’t make any other additions until after the draft with undrafted rookie free agents. So the new coaching staff must have confidence in the players returning, and if they get coached up, it will say a lot about this staff as compared to former coach Brian Flores and his staff. However, everything will be determined by the progress of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and the Dolphins added a lot of playmakers with speed to help him out.

They traded a 1st and 2nd round pick along with three other draft picks to get Tyreek Hill, who is the fastest receiver in the NFL arguably, to go with Jaylen Waddle. They also brought in Cedrick Wilson, running back, Chase Edmonds & Raheem Mostert. These additions should improve the offense, but if Tagovailoa can’t make it work with the new weapons at his disposal, then the Dolphins will be in the market for another quarterback next year. They do have Teddy Bridgewater as a backup, and he is an upgrade over Jacoby Brissett, so if Tagovailoa gets hurt or is inconsistent, the Dolphins have a reliable backup.

The Dolphins return all of their defense for the most part, but they have to step up, even more, this year with a tougher schedule. The defense got off to a slow start but rebounded with a soft schedule and then didn’t play well against the Tennessee Titans when they were still in the playoff race. Yes, the offense has to play better, but the defense has to prove it’s legit against better offenses, and they will be challenged this year against the Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, Green Bay Packers, and the Buffalo Bills twice. Overall, the Dolphins should be a better team. 

AFC EAST RIVALS

The team to beat in the AFC East is the Buffalo Bills. They have won the division the last two years and have been head and shoulders above everyone in the division. Some say the Bills have the deepest roster in the NFL, and that may be true. People also say the Bills lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round because of a coin toss, which is not valid. As good as the Bills are, they underachieved last year. They struggled at times last year and lost to teams they were better than in the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Indianapolis Colts.

The Bills won games because they were in a weak division and had a soft schedule, frankly, and the only reason they won the division is because the New England Patriots choked the last four weeks of the season, losing 3 out of 4 games opening the door for the Bills to grab the division. The Bills have the best quarterback in the division in Josh Allen nobody can dispute that. He’s a dual-threat with his arms and legs. They also have one of the best receivers in the game in Stefon Diggs. They have a decent offensive line and should be better with the signing of veteran Roger Saffold. They don’t have much of a running game. Devin Singletary came on at the end of the year, but they struggled all season to run the ball or commit to it. They brought in James Cook in the 2nd round to add speed to the running game and passing game. How he progresses could tell a lot. The Bills have Gabriel Davis returning, and he had a great game in the playoffs against the Chiefs, but he was inconsistent all season long, and at times, you didn’t know which receiver you would get. The same goes for Isaiah McKenzie, who had a big game against the Patriots to help the Bills win the division but struggled all season and was even inactive for two games. The Bills brought in tight end OJ Howard, who I wanted the Dolphins to sign and get rid of Mike Gesicki, and he is a good all-around tight end.

The Bills statistically had the number one defense in the NFL but, just like the Dolphins, had a soft schedule and didn’t play a lot of great offenses. They also failed to close the game against the Chiefs in which they allowed big passing plays in the final 13 seconds to let the Chiefs kick the game-tying field goal, which is what cost the Bills because that game should never have gone to overtime. The Bills upgraded their defense by signing all pro-Von Miller. He is a definite upgrade because the Bills didn’t have a great pass rush. They also signed other players on the defensive line like Tim Settle and Jordan Phillips, so the Bills recognized their defensive front had some flaws as they struggled to stop the run. They used their first-round pick on defensive back Kaiir Elam as the Bills needed another cornerback especially since Tre’Davious White is coming back from an ACL injury. The secondary is mostly solid with safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer.  

The New England Patriots had a rebound season in 2021, by making the playoffs as a wild card team. However, even though the Patriots made the playoffs, they struggled at the end of the season, losing three of their last four games. The division title was there for the taking, and they choked. They ended the season getting humiliated in the wild card game against the Bills, but it can’t overshadow the whole season. The Patriots got off to a slow start and found their groove at the season’s midway point. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones led them. Jones had a good season, but he wasn’t asked to do much. The Patriots’ strength is their offensive line and running the football that was their calling card. If you could stop the running game and make them throw it, you had an excellent chance to beat them. The Patriots don’t have any real game-breakers or a number one bonafide receiver. The only acquisition they made was for DeVante Parker, and he’s good, but he’s always hurt. The Patriots made two head-scratching decisions this off-season. They traded one of their best offensive linemen in Shaq Mason, for only a 5th round pick. Then in the first round last week, they drafted offensive linemen Cole Strange, who was considered by many a late second-round pick at best, so it was considered a significant reach. The Patriots have made many head-scratching draft choices but were covered up by Tom Brady and his greatness. Well, Brady is gone, and unless Jones turns into another Tom Brady, the Patriots might not be able to overcome that. The Patriots are typically solid on defense, but they fell off the last four games of the season. In fact, in the final two meetings against the Bills, the Patriots’ defense didn’t force the Bills to punt. They also lost their best defensive player in JC Jackson and haven’t replaced him. The Patriots also lack defense speed, which could be a problem against the Bills and the Dolphins.  

The Jets finished last in the division, and they were deprived of talent. Once again, the Jets are in the middle of another rebuild. The Jets are going in with second-year quarterback Zach Wilson, who struggled last year, and that’s normal for a rookie. This year, he has to step up and show he has what it takes to be their franchise quarterback. The Jets have a decent offensive line and, in the draft, added two playmakers, wide Receiver Garrett Wilson and running back Breece Hall. Those guys should help complement the other skills players and free-agent tight end CJ Uzomah. The Jets had nobody on defense except for Quinton Williams on the defensive line. Still, the Jets loaded up early in the draft, taking defensive back Ahmad Gardner and then trading up to get pass rusher Jermaine Johnson. Gang Green may be short on talent in certain areas, but they added more players on both sides of the ball to help the Jets compete more on the field and potentially win a few more games.  

Overall, the Bills are the best team in the division, but has the gap been narrowed? I want to think so. I think the Dolphins are the second-best team in the division right now, and I would like to think they will give the Bills a run for their money. They have more speed on offense, which is something the Bills have struggled with on defense against faster offenses like the Chiefs. However, the Dolphins haven’t beaten the Bills in over three years, and until they beat them, I can’t say they will overtake them, let alone compete with them for a division title. The Patriots didn’t do a lot this offseason to compensate for some of their losses, and the Dolphins swept them last year, so I see no reason for that to change. The Jets could be interesting if the talent they acquired plays to their abilities on the field, and they could win a division game or two, something they haven’t done the last two seasons. The Bills are the team to beat, but I believe the gap has closed slightly.