Will the Bills end their eternal playoff drought?
Can the Dolphins put last year’s off field distractions behind them?
Do the Patriots have another Super Bowl appearance left in them?
Do the Jets finally have the right QB leading them?
It’s time to look at the offseason of the AFC East Division.
DISCLAIMER: The writer of this article is a Bills fan.
So without further ado…..
Free Agency: The Bills had to address their porous run defense and they did that by signing run stuffing LB Brandon Spikes (Patriots). Veteran CB Corey Graham (Ravens) adds great depth to the secondary. Unspectacular former first rounders LB Keith Rivers (Giants) & OG Chris Williams (Rams) fill needs, and RB Anthony Dixon (49’ers) looks to surprise.
Draft: The Bills made the boldest move of the draft by trading up to grab Clemson WR Sammy Watkins, the premiere WR in this year’s draft. Standout OT Cyrus Kouandjio from Alabama fell to the Bills in the 2nd round. Louisville LB Preston Brown looks to be an old school 3-down player, while Duke CB Ross Cockrell was an under-the-radar player, and Baylor OG Cyril Richardson & Miami, FL OT Seantrel Henderson could be steals.
Overview: The last member of the “League of Fools”, Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr., passed away earlier this year. With that the front office is scrambling to field a winning team and end the Bills 14 year playoff drought, before a new owner takes over. The Bills weren’t just trading draft picks during the draft, as they traded away veteran WR Stevie Johnson to the 49’ers and acquired RB Bryce Brown from the Eagles. Prior to the draft, the Bills obtained Buccaneers WR Mike Williams, via trade. In addition, the Bills added former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz to be their new defensive coordinator, so you can see that the Bills are doing all that they can to become winners. But all eyes are on QB E.J. Manuel, who must stay healthy and must prove that he can be the leader the Bills need. Losing rookie phenom LB Kiko Alonso for the season, due to a knee injury, was a tough blow.
Free Agency: An overhaul on the O-Line was needed for the Dolphins as they added OT’s Branden Albert (Chiefs) & Jason Fox (Lions). CB Cortland Finnegan (Rams) & FS Louis Delmas (Lions) add great experience to the secondary and NT Earl Mitchell (Texans) could be a mainstay for years to come. RB Knowshon Moreno (Broncos) gets a chance to shine without Peyton Manning, and OG Darryn Colledge (Cardinals) adds depth.
Draft: Tennessee OT Ja’Wuan James was a bit of a reach in the first round, but he has good potential. The other WR from Louisiana State, Jarvis Landry is a solid pick. North Dakota State OT Billy Turner needs to refine his game, but he is one to keep an eye on. Liberty CB Walt Aikens is an exciting small school talent, Georgia TE Arthur Lynch is a throw-back Tight End that will help with receiving and blocking, and Montana LB Jordan Tripp is a definite project with a future.
Overview: The Dolphins want to put everything that happened last year behind them, and so far they have done a very good job of it. Now they are tasked with getting over the stigma of being an average team. The offense is loaded with talent, even if it is devoid of big names, and the defense is quietly a strength of this team. Consistency is the key to success for the Dolphins.
Free Agency: CB Darrelle Revis (Buccaneers) is looking for redemption after a forgettable stint at Tampa Bay & CB Brandon Browner (Seahawks) adds youth. WR Brandon LaFell (Panthers) should provide a boost & veteran DE Will Smith (Saints) adds much needed pass rushing help.
Draft: Florida DT Dominique Easley’s draft stock fell due to injury, but he does fill a need. Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garroppolo is a big reach in the 2nd round. Wisconsin RB James White is a good rotational player. Georgia Tech CB Jemea Thomas has good potential & Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon is the type of slot receiver the Patriots like to use.
Overview: The loss of Brandon Spikes, Adrian Wilson & Aqib Talib can not be dismissed, even if the Patriots feel they have replaced them. As long as QB Tom Brady is in charge, the Patriots will be contenders. Once again the pressure is on the defense to get them back to the Super Bowl.
Free Agency: QB Michael Vick (Eagles), RB Chris Johnson (Titans) & WR Erik Decker (Broncos). Those are some big names, but are they the right players? WR Jacoby Ford (Raiders) & OT Breno Giacomini were added for insurance.
Draft: Louisville FS Calvin Pryor is a playmaker, something the Jets really need. Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro is more of a big WR, and will have to transition to a more traditional offense. Maryland CB Dexter McDougle was a bit of a reach, whereas Oklahoma WR Jalen Saunders is a good slot receiver. Furman OT Dakota Dozier is a good solid mid round pick.
Overview: Another year, another QB for the Jets. This time veteran Michael Vick is tasked with getting the Jets to becoming winners. He does have help with Johnson & Decker, but Johnson is not the rusher he used to be, and Decker will soon find out that Vick is no Peyton Manning. Despite the big name signings by the Jets on offense, they more likely will once again have to rely on their strong defense to lift them to victory.