Non-Stop NFL Week 3: Chasing The Champs

Non-Stop NFL is a weekly article that will focus on a specific topic that has to do with current events occurring in the National Football League and give analysis on previous and future activity in the NFL in regards to the offseason. This week, the focus will be on the AFC East and how the three teams not named Patriots have tried to catch up to the Super Bowl Champs. 

Most of America watched as Malcolm Butler picked off Russell Wilson and sealed the Patriot’s 4th Super Bowl in franchise history.  The former champs are of course the favorite in their division, right? They definitely are expected to remain at the top, but this offseason has changed the AFC East race due to the aggressiveness of the trailing teams early on in the offseason.

The Jets fired Rex Ryan as expected after another awful season and then hired Todd Bowles to be the new head coach of a rebuilding team.  That process has been sped up as the team signed Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie to anchor their secondary and brought back David Harris to solidify the linebackers.  That’s all great, but everyone knew that Todd Bowles was capable of building a defense, the problem was creating an offense that can put up points. It was a great start to get rid of Percy Harvin who is nowhere near worth the  $10.5 million he was owed by the team.  Harvin has only proven that he is injury prone and when healthy is mediocre at best.  Also, paying a receiver that kind of money who isn’t even a top tier receiver and plays on a running based offense is outrageous.  Acquiring Brandon Marshall gives the Jets a clear advantage at wide receiver over the rest of the division as they already had Eric Decker to begin with.  With a pretty solid defensive team and a stellar one-two punch at wide receiver many people could probably see a team like this being able to contend, but they won’t.  The Jets will not contend with Geno Smith at quarterback.  It simply will not happen, he will be outplayed by both Tom Brady in both divisional match-ups and most likely be dominated by Ryan Tannehill as well.  If New York can draft a quarterback and the quarterback has a breakout season, this team may sneak back into the playoffs.

In Buffalo, Rex Ryan is going to need some time to correct what is going on. Kyle Orton’s retirement and Kiko Alonso leaving town are not good for the Bills so early in the offseason. Adding Lesean McCoy, Charles Clay, Percy Harvin  to the mix has made the offense more explosive then in past seasons, but who will get them the ball? Matt Cassel is the presumptive starter, but it’s hard to imagine he is anything close to the player he was when he went to the Pro Bowl for the Chiefs. Another question mark surrounding the team is the offensive line, can the team protect Cassel and open up lanes for “Shady” McCoy?  Defensively, a few pieces here and there have left, most notably Kiko Alonso, but there is no doubt in my mind that Rex Ryan will be able to build another great defense.  Buffalo fans will need to extend their patience if they are looking for an immediate answer because I don’t see a clear picture, but with that said a big season from Cassel and McCoy and the Bills might just end the playoff drought.

All Dolphins’ fans beware: the team greatly overpaid Suh and it can have a lasting impact if he is not a major difference in winning games over the duration of the contract. If he is not among the defensive player of the year candidates every year, Miami has overpaid for him.  Unfortunately, I believe the money used to bring Suh in could have been divided to fill more gaps than just that one.  Nevertheless, this team boasts a quality defensive line and a decent secondary which will try to keep the opposing teams’ score very low because the offense is still developing.  Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Miller, and Jarvis Landry provide a nice core to build around, but losing Charles Clay and lacking a second true option at receiver may hurt the club.  If Tannehill finally puts together a full season of consistency and the defense meshes well together, the Dolphins could make a run at the division. That’s a big if.

While Tom Brady’s Patriots are still the kings of AFC East, his throne will soon fall victim to a team hungry for a division title and next year just might be that season. While you can never count out Bill Belichick’s squad from surprising people, it seems as if the Patriots have gotten worse in the offseason.  My preview will still feature them at the top of the division, but I can’t fault anyone for believing that the AFC East may be up for grabs in the upcoming season.

Thanks for reading, check back next week for a new article!

-@raydunne21