In preparation for the upcoming 2014 NFL season, Just A Guy has put together a team-by-team run down of every division. Today we highlight the AFC East, which includes the Patriots, Jets, Dolphins and Bills.
The Dolphins made a huge splash in free agency last year, but it didn’t help them. Mike Wallace played well below the huge contract he got, and the team suffered overall. This year, the Dolphins had a quieter offseason. They signed Brandon Albert to solidify their line at LT, which should help greatly, as he’s a top lineman. They also drafted Ju’Wan James with their first round pick to help. In addition to that, Miami signed Bill Lazor, the QB coach from Philadelphia last season. All these moves add up to pushing QB Ryan Tannehill to the next tier at his position. The Dolphins are also hoping Lazor can transform incumbent starter Lamar Miller into a LeSean McCoy type back. Reports are that he’s been excelling so far, as free agent acquisition Knowshon Moreno continues to prove that last year was a fluke and merely a result of playing in the masterful offense of Peyton Manning and his unlimited weapons.
They have Cortland Finnegan at safety and cornerback, respectively. Delmas has proven solid when healthy, but that’s a big if. Finnegan had his worst season as a pro last year, just awful. He isn’t getting any younger either, as his body continues to wear down. They’ll need second year man Dion Jordan to really improve this year up front. All in all, the Dolphins seem to have made the least amount of offseason impact than the rest of their AFC East brethren. Still, a second place finish behind New England and potential wild card berth isn’t out of the question, with the Bills and Jets never seeming to rise above either. 9-7 record. – Frank
New York Jets
The Jets are moving on with the Geno Smith experience for better or worse, and the team didn’t give him the most help offensively. Chris Johnson is the new running back, but the jury is out on whether or not he can regain his Tennessee glory. Eric Decker was signed on to be the primary receiving threat, although he won’t have Peyton Manning targeting him anymore. The good news is that Rex Ryan, which we may be seeing his last stand, is the best at maximizing the talent he has around him. Defensively, the team should be solid, with Dee Milliner and Quinton Coples to lead the unit. Still, it’s hard to envision this team being better than 8-8 or 9-7. They may sneak a playoff spot if the cards fall their way, but I wouldn’t expect much more than that. – Steve
New England Patriots
Is Tom Brady on the downside of his career? We’ll find out this year. After a rough 2013, Brady hopes to rebound with some better talent and a more experienced group in 2014. He will get Gronk back. Probably not 100% the first half, but as the season goes on he should get better and more confident in that blown out knee. Brady will have a whole bunch of RBs to work with in Ridley, Vereen, Bolden and rookie James White. Hot hand more than likely- game to game. Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins will be the main WRs. With mixing in new comer Brandon LaFell and Tim Wright. On defense the Patriots replaced Aqib Talib with Revis Island. This will allow them to stick with their typical man to man D. Brandon Browner was a solid addition to the safety position and can be a pro bowler when healthy. Vince Wilfork is coming back from a torn Achillies. He needs to be the force in the middle to free up the solid line backing core to make plays. The Pats are deep everywhere. Tom Brady is the key. I can see a 12-4 record and a deep run into the playoffs in 2014. – Chris
E.J. Manuel was better than expected last year with high hopes coming into this year, that were quickly dashed with below average preseason. If Manuel can rebound and their offensive line can keep him upright, they’ll have some serious potential on offense with young receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods to go along with the running back duo of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Odds are Manuel won’t start the entire season, which would mean Kyle “Neckbeard” Orton will see some playing time. That could bode well for this season, but the future isn’t bright if Orton’s your number one.
Kiko Alsono was the Bills leading tackler last year will miss the entire 2014 NFL season after tearing his ACL. This puts a huge dent in Buffalo defense, but the Brandson Spikes and Keith Rivers signings should help the cause at linebacker. Mario Williams will continue to anchor the defensive line along with Kyle Williams. They combined for 23.5 sacks last year and the Bills hope they can replicate those numbers. The loss of Jairus Byrd to the Saints will hurt the seconday, leaving Leodis McKelvin as the veteran in the defensive backfield. If their line can get pressure, they should be able to handle most offenses. – Ryan