AFC East offseason recap and grades

AFC East offseason recap and grades

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By Steven Ruiz May 10, 2018 1:41 pm Follow @theStevenRuiz !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+’://’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);

By: Steven Ruiz | May 10, 2018 1:41 pm Follow @theStevenRuiz !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+’://’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);

With the bulk of the NFL offseason behind us, For The Win will be going division-by-division and grading the work every team has done over the past few months. You’ll find each team’s key additions, losses, re-signings, draft picks and coaching changes, as well as a breakdown for what it all means heading into the 2018 season. We start with the AFC East…

A.J. McCarron, QB; Chris Ivory, RB; Jeremy Kerley, WR; Russell Bodine, C; Marshall Newhouse, RT; Trent Murphy, DE; Star Lotulelei, DT; Vontae Davis, CB

Tyrod Taylor, QB; Jordan Matthews, WR; Cordy Glenn, LT; Richie Incognito, LG; Eric Wood, C; E.J. Gaines, CB; Preston Brown, LB

It’s difficult to grade the Bills’ offseason, because the goal wasn’t necessarily to get better as a team in 2018. Instead, Buffalo looked to set itself up for the future. But the team may have failed in that respect as well — especially if Josh Allen fails to prove his naysayers wrong after the team traded multiple draft picks to move up and get him.

As for the 2018 season, Buffalo took a major step back on the offensive side of the ball, and the defensive improvement is incremental, at best. The team turned its strength, running the ball, into a weakness after trading away Tyrod Taylor and Cordy Glenn and losing both Richie Incognito and Eric Wood to retirement. The run defense, which was so bad in 2017, will be better, but the Bills still lack a threatening pass rush, which will tax a talented secondary that may have improved after the addition of Vontae Davis — assuming he can return to his pre-injury form. (101) add

Josh Sitton, G; Danny Amendola, WR; Albert Wilson, WR; Robert Quinn, DE; Daniel Kilgore, C; Frank Gore, RB; Akeem Spence, DT

Ndamukong Suh, DT; Jarvis Landry, WR; Mike Pouncey, C; Cody Parkey, K; Jermon Bushrod, G; Julius Thomas, TE; Lawrence Timmons, LB

The Dolphins’ goal was to improve the locker room, which the team believes will lead to a better on-field product. We’ll have to see how this locker room gels before deciding whether Miami succeeded.

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The on-field product, at least on one side of the ball, will be better regardless of the locker room overhaul. The return of Ryan Tannehill along with the additions of Josh Sitton, Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson should allow the passing game to return to its 2016 level. The pass rush is worse off after being a non-factor last season and the run defense will take a step back after Ndamukong Suh’s release. Minkah Fitzpatrick could be a culture-changer on that defense, but it won’t matter if the unit doesn’t have enough talent to slow down opposing offenses. Miami may not have gotten any worse this offseason, but it didn’t get much better, either. (114) add

Trent Brown, T; Jason McCourty, CB; Danny Shelton, DT; Adrian Clayborn, DE; Jeremy Hill, RB; Jordan Matthews, WR; LaAdrian Waddle, T

Nate Solder, LT; Danny Amendola, WR; Brandin Cooks, WR; Dion Lewis, RB; Martellus Bennett, TE; Malcolm Butler, CB; James Harrison, OLB

Brian Flores replaces Matt Patricia as the defensive play-caller but has not been promoted to defensive coordinator.

This was a typical Patriots offseason. New England lost some talent to free agency but was able to replace the departing players with unheralded guys who should be able to fill the vacant roles.

The Patriots defense will certainly be better in 2018. It can get any worse than it was last season. Dont’a Howard returns to solidify the second level of the defense, and the underrated additions of Danny Shelton and Adrian Clayborn will add some much needed talent to the front seven, which struggled so much in 2017.

The offense lost several key pieces, but Tom Brady is still here and he has enough to work with. The offensive line remains a concern, especially if Isaiah Wynn doesn’t make an impact as a rookie. At the same time, poor pass blocking has never stopped this offense from scoring in the past.

Trumaine Johnson, CB; Teddy Bridgewater, QB; Isaiah Crowell, RB; Avery Williamson, LB; Henry Anderson, DT; Terrelle Pryor, WR; Andre Roberts, WR; Thomas Rawls, RB; Kevin Minter, LB; Kevin Pierre-Lewis, OLB

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE; Demario Davis, LB; Muhammad Wilkerson, DT; Kony Ealy, DE

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Josh McCown, QB; Morris Claiborne, CB; Mike Pennel, DT; Spence Long, C

The Jets overpaid to find their franchise quarterback, but the “throw a bunch of darts at the wall and see what happens” approach could serve the team well. Josh McCown, who’s coming off a career year, will get the first crack at the starting job. If he falters, there are two young, promising quarterbacks in Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater here to battle it out for the top spot on the depth chart.

New York didn’t use much of its copious cap space this offseason, which was probably a smart decision because this team is still years away from competing and the free agent pool wasn’t robust. The pass defense got better with the addition of Trumaine Johnson and the run defense should remain strong thanks to the Avery Williamson signing and Henry Anderson trade.

The Jets will compete on defense but still need to find a pass rush to become an elite unit. On the other side of the ball, the offensive line will continue to hold the team back, even if the quarterback situation works itself out.

Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, NFL, NFL

Steven Ruiz is a writer at For the Win. He writes about the NFL and makes fancy graphics from time to time.

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