AFC East Pre: Draft Preview
The AFC East, one of the best divisions in football, and one of the most historic. The AFC East had two playoff teams last year in the Jets and Patriots, and it appears this year it will be a three team race for first place with the Dolphins added to the mix. So far this off-season, it would appear the Jets and Dolphins are getting better, while the Patriots and Bills are getting worse. Well I've decided to take a closer look at this.
The Jets may appear to have gotten even better than last year, and maybe they have, but some of the moves they have made have been very overrated. Losing Thomas Jones will be a bigger loss than the Jets think. I still do not understand the whole situation. The Jets let Jones go after a 1400 yard season, because he was too old and they didn't want to pay him. Then they go and sign LaDanian Tomlinson, who is only a year younger than Jones, hasn't performed nearly as well as Jones over the last few years, and they payed him more than they were going to pay Thomas Jones. There is the argument that the signing was for selling jerseys, but I'm sure a team who plays in New York doesn't have a problem selling jerseys. The move doesn't make sense and only makes the Jets running attack worse. Then there is the trade for Antonio Cromartie. Again, an overrated move. Does it improve the Jets secondary? Yes, but not as much as people think. Cromartie has only had one good season, if you are going by interceptions. The Chargers wanted to get rid of Cromartie for a reason, he's not great at coverage and can't/won't tackle. If the Jets come to agreement with Jason Taylor, people will probably make a bigger deal about it than it really is. Maybe Taylor gets ten sacks, i don't know, but I'd try to get a pass rusher in the draft this year if I'm the Jets. Losing Kerry Rhodes, not a huge loss. He showed great potential and never lived up to it. The Jets' best move was trading for Santanio Holmes, or should i say stole Santonio Holmes. A 5th round pick for a Superbowl MVP and 1,000 yard Wide Receiver? Crazy. This move definitely helps the Jets' passing attack. Overall, the Jets better hope they don't end up looking like the Redskins of the AFC East. If there were ever a huge amount of pressure on a young Quarterback, it's this season with Mark Sanchez. With that offensive line, running game, Edwards, Cotchery and Holmes, Sanchez has no excuse to perform poorly. The Jets' season rests on his shoulders.
Onto the Miami Dolphins, the Dolphins have gotten much better. Trading for Brandon Marshall may have the been the best move of the entire NFL off-season. Anytime a team with a great running attack and a young, promising Quarterback adds a top five WR, things are looking up. Marshall is a physical freak who will greatly improve the Dolphins' offense. They lost Joey Porter, but Parcells seems to always find guys to fill holes. Adding Karlos Dansby was a good move as well. Dansby is a very good player and will fit well in the Dolphins' 3-4. Miami also added Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan. Nolan has proven to be a great DC. He will only improve the Dolphins' defense. In my opinion, the Dolphins are the 2nd best team in the AFC East. I expect them to go after a big Nose Tackle or pass rusher in the draft.
The New England Patriots, the best team in the AFC East, but for how much longer? The window seems to be shutting on the Pats. Brady seems to be not the same after the knee injury. Moss is 33, unhappy, and probably leaving after this season. They really can't run well. They're defense is very, very, overrated. Vince Wilfork is great, a top three Nose Tackle. They always seem to have solid 3-4 Defensive Ends. The problem is, they're Linebackers and secondary aren't good. Jerod Mayo seems to be a promising LB, but Addalius Thomas has been bad since he arrived in New England, and every other LB they have isn't good. Leigh Bodden is a good Cornerback, but that's all they have in the secondary. Maybe Brandon Merriweather will get better, but I don't think so. He misses too many play and doesn't make up for it. He was an undeserving probowler last year. But, the Patriots still have Bill Bellicheck, Tom Brady, and Randy Moss. That alone still makes them the beast of the East. They'll take first, but times running out. They'll go after defensive help in the draft, don't sleep on them getting Dez Bryant either.
The Buffalo Bills, a decade of bad coaches, bad Quarterbacks, and bad seasons. Hopefully it's over. The Bills answered the fans cries and fired Head Coach Dick Jauron. The entire coaching staff was fired. The Bills took their time looking for a new Head Coach, going through interviews with Mike Shanahan and Bill Cowher. The Bills weren't able to land either of them. So they took a different approach. Time to rebuild completely. They finally hired a GM in Buddy Nix and hired Head Coach Chan Gailey. Gailey is an offensive mind. Expect the Bills' offense to get better. They're defense wasn't bad last year. They were 30th against the run, but 2nd in pass defense. Injuries at linebacker are the main reason the Bills were bad against the run. That and the fact that the offense never gave the defense a rest. Hard to stop the run when you're always on defense. The Bills are switching to a 3-4 defense. which sounds like a huge change and it will be hard, but not exactly. The Bills already have the right guys for the 3-4. The secondary is more than fine. Last year the drafted Aaron Maybin in the 1st round, who looks like the perfect 3-4 OLB. The main changes will be Aaron Schobel switching from Defensive End to Outside Linebacker, and Marcus Stroud switching from Defensive Tackle to Defensive End. The signings of LB Andra Davis and DE Dwan Edwards were the most underrated signings of the off-season. Dwan Edwards is a very good 3-4 DE, and Andra Davis has always been a solid LB. The Bills' defense will be better than people think. Offensively, the Bills are little lost. They have 2 promising young guards in Eric Wood and Andy Levitre, Levitre appears to be a stud. A lot of people thought Trent Edwards was finally going to end the Quarterback woes in Buffalo, but he didn't. Some people will blame it on HC Dick Jauron, others blame it on Edwards alone. Either way, Edwards is not the future QB of the Bills. They lost wide receivers Terrell Owens and Josh Reed to free agency, so WR may be hole that needs filling, but not over LT, RT and QB. Lee Evans is great. They drafted James Hardy in the 2nd round two years ago, and Stevie Johnson is a promising young WR. The Bills don't need to address WR early in the draft. Fred Jackson is very good. Trading Marshawn Lynch won't kill them, but they'll need to pick up a backup RB. I expect Buffalo to take a LT 1st round, Tim Tebow 2nd round, NT 3rd round, and add depth at LB and WR the rest of the draft.
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