During the month of August, Last Word on Pro Football will be breaking down every position in the league by division. This article contains an in-depth, position-by-position breakdown of the AFC East offenses. The breakdown will consist of “the best” at every position followed by “the rest”.
2019 AFC East Breakdown By Position: The Offense
The Best: New England Patriots
Even at age 42, Tom Brady is still the class of the AFC East. His 2018 season wasn’t quite as good as his 2015-2017 run, but he was still a top-five quarterback and should remain among the league’s elite for the next two or three seasons. Brian Hoyer is a serviceable backup, and Jarrett Stidham looked good in his preseason debut, although it’s obviously too early to make any sweeping declarations about his career.
Sam Darnold and Josh Allen both had their moments last year and hope to make a big jump in 2019. By this writer’s eye, Darnold has the better shot at developing into a true franchise quarterback. Darnold has the ideal NFL arm and accuracy and is in position to be a solid starter for the next decade. If Allen’s going to last as a starter, he’ll need to do it my maximizing his athletic gifts rather than being a traditional dropback quarterback.
Josh Rosen was objectively bad as a rookie but a change of scenery could help the former top-10 pick. Miami isn’t the best landing spot, as the offensive line is one of the worst in the league. There’s a good shot Ryan Fitzpatrick starts the season under center, in which case he’ll look like the best quarterback in football for three weeks before getting benched in Week Six.
The Best: New York Jets
The Rest: New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills
You better have the best running back in your division when he’s making over $13 million a year. Le’Veon Bell missed the 2018 season but is only 27 and should still have some gas left in his tank. The depth chart behind him is pretty solid, as Ty Montgomery has had some success throughout his career, and Bilal Powell has shown promise as a pass-catching back.
The Patriots have one of the best pass-catching backs in James White and a solid two-down runner in Sony Michel. If Michel or rookie Damien Harris can develop into a true three-down player, then New England might have the best depth in the division. Kenyan Drake looks good whenever he’s on the field, but coaching staffs just don’t want to use him as a lead back. It’s going to be hard for him or Kalen Ballage to succeed behind that offensive line. LeSean McCoy appears to have hit the fabled cliff, giving T.J. Yeldon, Frank Gore, and Devin Singletary a chance to earn a larger role.
The Best: Buffalo Bills
The Rest: New England Patriots, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins
You could order these four teams in just about any order and make a solid argument for your choice. For now, the Bills take the top spot thanks to their relatively high floor and ceiling. Robert Foster and Zay Jones showed flashes of greatness last year and adding John Brown and Cole Beasley to the mix only creates a more complete depth chart. There isn’t a superstar here, but all four players are more than capable of filling their respective roles.
Reigning Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman is one of the most underrated players in the league and should be ready for the start of the season. When factoring in the upside of N’Keal Harry and great depth options like Maurice Harris, Phillip Dorsett, and Jakobi Meyers along with the eventual return of Demaryius Thomas gives the Patriots a dangerous depth chart if everything breaks right.
Robby Anderson is a budding star and Quincy Enunwa and Jamison Crowder are solid complementary pieces. Miami’s wide receiver room looks a lot better if Albert Wilson can return to health. Kenny Stills is a solid deep threat and a great fit for Ryan Fitzpatrick, but nobody should expect anything more than inconsistent production from Davante Parker.
The Best: New England Patriots
The Rest: Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins
The Patriots take this one by a mile. Joe Thuney, David Andrews, and Shaq Mason form arguably the best interior offensive line in football, while Marcus Cannon is one of the better right tackles in the game. New England still needs to find a left tackle, as 2018 first-round pick Isaiah Wynn is still working his way back from an Achilles injury.
The Bills should have a decent line, although it won’t be as good as New England’s. Mitch Morse is one of the best centers in the league and should provide invaluable protection for Josh Allen. Quinton Spain is no superstar, but he’s a solid enough player. The real question lies at the tackle position, where rookie Cody Ford will need to prove he’s ready for the NFL and Dion Dawkins needs to dramatically improve his level of play.
The Jets got an intriguing player in Kelechi Osemele, but the rest of the line leaves a lot to be desired. The Miami Dolphins offensive line is just a plain mess. Outside of Laremy Tunsil and maybe rookie Michael Deiter, nobody on this line should be starting in the NFL. This unit is PFF’s bottom-ranked offensive line, and with good reason.
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