During the month of August, the Last Word on Sports NFL department will be breaking down every division in the league by position. This article contains a position-by-position breakdown of the AFC East offenses. The breakdown will contain “the best” at each position followed by “the rest” in descending order.
AFC East Breakdown By Position: The Offense
The Best: New England Patriots
Even with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, the New England Patriots still have the best quarterback room in the AFC East. At his best, Cam Newton is one of the most exciting and dangerous players in the league. While he has battled injuries over the past few seasons, he should be a top 15-20 quarterback if he can stay on his feet.
Outside of Newton, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the only quarterback that has ever put up league-average play over a full 16-game season. The journeyman quarterback is very Jekyll and Hyde as a quarterback, capable of going from elite to terrible stretches of play in a blink of an eye. Fitzpatrick will start for now, but it’s only a matter of time before Tua Tagovailoa takes over under center.
Sam Darnold has had moments of gold on tape, but the vast majority of his play leaves a lot to be desired. To be fair to the USC product, he’s been in a terrible situation ever since entering the league. Josh Allen is a bottom-five quarterback holding back an otherwise championship-caliber roster.
The Best: Buffalo Bills
The Rest: Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, New England Patriots
Devin Singletary had a solid season as a rookie, but Zack Moss is the reason for this ranking. Singletary can thrive as the early-down runner, but he’s not very good in the passing game. Moss is, and he can take goal line carries as well. If Moss hits the ground running, this could be a top-10 backfield by the end of 2020.
Jordan Howard is perennially underrated and should be a solid starter behind Miami’s offensive line. Matt Breida is one of the fastest players in the league and can be absolutely lethal in space. Le’Veon Bell wasn’t worth the big money, but he might still be able to produce behind an improved offensive line. James White is the only difference-maker in New England and could be the second-best receiver on the team. Sony Michel is only as good as his blocking, Rex Burkhead is a walking injury, and Damien Harris played a whopping five snaps last year.
The Best: Buffalo Bills
The Rest: Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets
The Buffalo Bills quietly assembled one of the best wide receiver rooms in the league over the past two seasons. Stefon Diggs is one of the best all-around receivers in football, capable of getting open at all three levels of the field and winning any contested catch thrown his way. John Brown is a fantastic deep threat, and Cole Beasley is a solid-if-not-spectacular slot receiver.
DeVante Parker finally broke out in 2019, and Preston Williams showed some promise as a rookie. Everything else, however, leaves a lot to be desired. The New England Patriots have a 34-year old Julian Edelman, and everyone else is either old or unproven. Ditto for the Jets, except replace Julian Edelman with Jamison Crowder.
The Best: Miami Dolphins
The Rest: Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, New England Patriots
The tight ends in the AFC East leave a lot to be desired. The Miami Dolphins basically earn this by default, as Mike Gesicki is the only one that has a proven sample of above-average play. The former second-round pick broke out in a big way last year, recording 51 receptions for 570 yards and five touchdowns. The depth behind him, however, leaves a lot to be desired.
Dawson Knox made a few highlight-worthy plays last year, which is rare for a rookie tight end, while Tyler Kroft is his usual reliable self. If Knox can take a Year 2 jump, then this group could be the best in the AFC East next year. Chris Herndon showed some real promise at the end of 2018 but lost his entire 2019 to injury and suspension. If he can put that bad year behind him, he can be a starter in this league for a long time.
The Patriots drafted two intriguing tight ends in Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. Both players have starting-caliber upside, but it’s incredibly rare for tight ends to make an impact as rookies. With that in mind, the best tight end with NFL experience is Ryan Izzo. That’s not great.
The Best: New England Patriots
The Rest: Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins
The New England Patriots should have one of the best offensive lines in football, especially along the interior. Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason might be the best guard duo in football, and David Andrews is a top-10 center when healthy. The big question on this line is at right tackle, as Yodny Cajuste will fill in for Marcus Cannon. Only time will tell if he’s ready for that task.
Nobody will confuse the Buffalo Bills offensive line with the 1990s Dallas Cowboys, but this is still a solid group. Mitch Morse is one of the better centers in football, and there isn’t an active liability at any position. The Jets had one of the worst offensive lines in football last year, but went crazy in free agency and the draft to address this issue. The Miami Dolphins, meanwhile, had the absolute worst offensive line in football last year. They added some pieces, but not enough to keep pace with New York.
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