Hello again football fans, in my sixth installment of breaking down the NFL, I will take a look at the AFC East. I will analyze each teams offense, defense and give my predictions for how they will finish in the division.
- Offense: EJ Manuel was drafted out of Florida State to eventually lead the offense. Kevin Kolb came in during the offseason to be the starter but that has a short shelf life. They will compete throughout training camp and in the preseason. The veteran will get the nod with the rookie taking over later in the season when he gets beat up trying to set up behind this offensive line. CJ Spiller is an explosive playmaker at running back. Fred Jackson will be coming off the bench to provide relief. The Wide Receiver corps got an extreme makeover. Robert Woods was drafted to go along with Stevie Johnson and TJ Graham. Troubled rookie Da’Rick Rogers was also signed as an undrafted free agent to provide some depth at receiver. This kid screams potential, hopefully, he will not act like a knucklehead so he can realize it.
- Defense: Mario Williams is coming back for his second year with the team. Expect quarterbacks on the Bills schedule to be constantly checking their rearview mirrors for this monster. Mark Anderson will be on the other side. Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams will man the middle of the line. The linebackers will probably be a combination of Manny Lawson, Nigel Bradham, and Kiko Alonso. Lawson can also drop down to the line to help provide help with the pass rush. Stephon Gilmore will be at one corner, with probably Leodis Mckelvin on the other side. Jarius Byrd and Da’Norris Searcy will be the safeties. Byrd is going through a contract squabble so that bears watching.
- Offense: Ryan Tannehill returns for his second season, after throwing for 3,294 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Tannehill will have the services of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas in the backfield. At wide receiver, he will have Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace. Wallace will be counted on the make the big plays in the passing game, provided the Dolphins can keep Tannehill upright. Dustin Keller, formerly with the Jets, will be at tightend. He could be a great security blanket over the middle if he stays healthy.
- Defense: The Dolphins will probably start up front with rookie Dion Jordan at one end and Cameron Wake on the other side. Randy Starks and Paul Soliai will be at the tackles. The linebackers will be made up of Koa Msi, Dannell Ellerbee, and Philip Wheeler. The team brought Brent Grimes on to help with play making in the secondary. He will be teaming up with Jamar Taylor at the other corner, with Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons at the safeties.
New England Patriots:
- Offense: One begins to wonder when there will be a drop off in production from Tom Brady because of the group of pass catchers he is given from year to year. The Patriots will probably have Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson out wide with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez at the tight end positions. Gronkowski will be returning from offseason surgeries to his forearm and back. The Patriots will counter with Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount at running back.
- Defense: The Pats run a multiple front defense alternating from a 4-3 to 3-4. Upfront will be a combination of Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. The linebacker will have Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, and Dont’a Hightower. The secondary looks like it will be Alfonzo Dennard and Aquib Talib at the corners with Devin McCourty and Adrian Wilson at the safeties.
New York Jets:
- Offense: Mark Sanchez is battling 2nd round draft pick Gino Smith for the right to start at quarterback. Whoever starts, the offense will be going back to a ground and pound simplified attack with a manager at quarterback. We will probably see Jeremy Kerley and Santonio Holmes out wide with Stephen Hill coming off the bench at wide receiver. The tight end will be Jeff Cumberland. At running back, will be Chris Ivory. The Jets quarterback situation is going to be watched all preseason to see who emerges as the starter.
- Defense: This is the best side of the ball for the Jets. They will again be running a 3-4 defense with Kenrick Ellis at nose, and Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson at the ends. Richardson was one of the top defensive tackles available in the draft. The pass rushers will be Quinton Coples and Antwan Barnes. The team is depending on some dramatic improvement by Coples after he had 5.5 sacks last year. Inside will be David Harris and Demario Davis. Harris was the teams’ leading tackler last year. In the secondary, will be Antonio Cromartie and 1st round pick Dee Milliner at the corners, with Josh Bush and Dawan Landry at the safeties.
My picks for the order of finish for the AFC east division are:
1. New England Patriots
2. Miami Dolphins
3. Buffalo Bills
4. NY Jets
Agree or disagree, as always let us know in the comments section.