NFL Divisional Breakdown AFC East

I have no opening this week. So instead I’ll share one of my new favorite quotes “Failure is just success rounded down.” Remember that when you’re team is in the crapper by week 5.

New England Patriots
Better than ever? I think that might be a little too optimistic.

Head Coach: Bill Belichick
Offensive Coordinator: N/A
Defensive Coordinator: Dean Pees
Special Teams Coordinator: Scott O’Brien
Chairman/CEO: Robert Kraft

Offensive Starters (Projected)
QB: Tom Brady
HB: Laurence Maroney
FB: Sammy Morris
WR: Randy Moss
WR: Wes Welker
LT: Matt Light
LG: Logan Mankins
C: Dan Koppen
RG: Stephen Neal
RT: Nick Kaczur
TE: Ben Watson

Defensive Starters (Projected)
DE: Richard Seymour
DE: Ty Warren
DT: Vince Wilfork
LB: Derrick Burgess
LB: Tedi Brusci
LB: Jerod Mayo
LB: Adalius Thomas
CB: Terrence Wheatley
CB: Leigh Bodden
FS: Brandon Merriweather
SS: Patrick Chung

Special Teams
K: Stephen Gostkowski
P: Chris Hanson

Position Battles:
RB: This is going to be a RBBC so it won’t be so much who starts, but who gets the bulk of the carries. Maroney, Fred Taylor, Green-Ellis, and Faulk will all see plenty of time.
CB: In classic Pats fashion I can’t figure this one out. Shawn Springs was signed so I figure he’ll get a chance to win the job. Darius Butler is a rookie with a chance to see some playing time. But I think Wheatley holds onto the job he won for one game last year before getting injured like the rest of the team.

Rookies to Watch:
Belichick is not exactly fond of rookies, so for rookies to get much time is a surprise. However, Jerod Mayo’s success last year might make it easier on Rooks this year. Patrick Chung has the best chance to take advantage of this. He was a good safety in college and should make for a smart, Belichick system safety for a few years. Darius Butler might get a chance to make his biggest mark in the return game. He did some returning for UConn and could do that for the Pats.

Season Expectations:
I’m a little bit hesitant on this coming season for the Pats. Yes they get Brady back and Randy said the offense could be the best it’s ever been. But I just don’t have full trust in any QB coming back from the knee injury Brady suffered. Even if he says he’s fine and doesn’t think about the knee anymore, it’s still back there in his mind. I believe it will affect the way he plays this year, although he’s good enough that it might not matter. I expect him to want to get the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible this year because of the knee, which means Welker and the RBs will probably be targeted more often than Moss on deeper routes. They’ll still chunk it up to Moss for his yearly 10 TDs but he won’t have the high number of catches he’s used to. The defense on the other hand, could be one of the best in the league. The entire front 7 could probably have an easy case for going to the Pro-Bowl especially with the addition of Derrick Burgess. Pressure on the QB was the team’s biggest problem last year and Burgess fixes that in a heartbeat.

Buffalo Bills
T.O. is in town and he still likes Trent Edwards, this could be the start of another train wreck.

Head Coach: Dick Jauron
Offensive Coordinator: Turk Schonert
Defensive Coordinator: Perry Fewell
Special Teams Coordinator: Bobby April
Owner: Ralph Wilson

Offensive Starters (Projected)
QB: Trent Edwards
HB: Marshawn Lynch
FB: Corey McIntyre
WR: Terrell Owens
WR: Lee Evans
LT: Langston Walker
LG: Andy Levitre
C: Geoff Hangartner
RG: Eric Wood
RT: Demetrius Bell
TE: Derek Fine

Defensive Starters (Projected)
DE: Chris Kelsay
DE: Marcus Stroud
DT: Kyle Williams
DT: Aaron Schobel
LB: Keith Ellison
LB: Paul Posluszny
LB: Kavika Mitchell
CB: Terrence McGee
CB: Leodis McKelvin
FS: Donte Whitner
SS: Bryan Scott

Special Teams
K: Rian Lindell
P: Brian Moorman

Position Battles:
RB: Marshawn Lynch will be sitting on the sidelines for the first three games of the year which means the backups will be running the show. Dominic Rhodes, Fred Jackson and Xavier Omon will be in line for carries during that stretch, and they hope after that stretch also.
DE: Schobel is slated in at one end and if Maybin would have been to camp on time he probably could have been slated in on the other end. But with Maybin’s hold out it opens up a spot on the line. Kelsay started the first preseason game, but he doesn’t have the strongest grip on the position.

Rookies to Watch:
Maybin will help the defensive line a ton when he gets into camp. He can be a force on the edge and with Stroud and Schobel already on the line, there aren’t enough blockers to double them all. They also have a couple O-Line rookies that started the first preseason game. Eric Wood and Andy Levitre. Wood was a highly rated center in the draft process, but he was playing RG during the game. I think long term he has more value as a center, but getting him work while someone else handles the blitz calls can only help him.

Season Expectations:
Trent Edwards will be the big question mark this year. He’s shown touches of brilliance in his career and he’s going to need to come through with more for this team. The addition of Owens makes this offense very threatening and if they continue to run the no huddle they will cause havoc on the rest of the division. But they’ll only be as good as Edwards makes them. He’s got all the toys to play with this year, good running game and very good receivers, with great depth at each of those positions. The O-line is young and definitely showed some holes early and they will have to improve to give Edwards a chance. The defense should be pretty good. They are solid on the back 7 and the front line has a couple really good players. If Maybin gets into camp and can get some playing time even as just a 3rd down pass rusher it will help the secondary and the defense as a whole. They’ll need a lot of things to go right for them to make a lot of noise, but they should be a solid team all year.

New York Jets

Head Coach: Rex Ryan
Offensive Coordinator:
Defensive Coordinator:
Special Teams Coordinator:

Offensive Starters (Projected)
QB: Kellen Clemens
HB: Thomas Jones
FB: Tony Richardson
WR: Jerricho Cotchery
WR: Chansi Stuckey
LT: D’Brickashaw Ferguson
LG: Alan Faneca
C: Nick Mangold
RG: Brandon Moore
RT: Damien Woody
TE: Dustin Keller

Defensive Starters (Projected)
DE: Marques Douglas
DE: Shaun Ellis
DT: Kris Jenkins
LB: Calvin Pace
LB: Bart Scott
LB: David Harris
LB: Vernon Gholston
CB: Lito Sheppard
CB: Darrelle Revis
FS: Kerry Rhodes
SS: Jim Leonhard

Special Teams
K: Jay Feely
P: Reggie Hodges

Position Battles:
QB: The rook Mark Sanchez or the young veteran Kellen Clemens who has had the rug pulled out from under him so many times it’s not fair. Sanchez could have used another year at USC, so a year under Clemens would be great for him.
WR: Cotchery is solid if not spectacular and after that you’ve got a bunch of fodder. Stuckey and Brad Smith are the best candidates to hold down the other starting job but that still leaves a lot to desire. Maybe newly acquired Aundrae Allison will sneak in and get the starting spot.
OLB: Vernon Gholston was selected in the first round last year to give them a pass rush off the outside. A holdout kept him from making much of an impact and he’s in a battle with Bryan Thomas for the starting job this year.

Rookies to Watch:
Hopefully you’ll be watching Mark Sanchez hold a clipboard, he had better weapons surrounding him at USC that he does here so to throw him out there could be brutal and would only hurt his development. Shonn Green is the player to keep an eye on. Jones is over 30 and starting to decline. Green in the future of the Jets at RB, he had a solid college career and will be a solid, but not eye popping pro.

Season Expectations:
Where they are good, they are really good. Where they are bad, they are really bad. When you pick up a castoff of the Vikings WR corp and he is immediately one of your top 2-3 WR, that’s not a good sign for your WR depth. But then you look at the positives, this offensive line is one of the best in football. Mangold is one of the best centers in the league, Ferguson is becoming a great LT, Woody can play any position on the line well. It’s just a great unit. And that is how the Jets are going to have to win games this year. Just like the Ravens did last year, they are going to have to run the ball a ton with many different backs and just wear down opposing defenses. The QB battle will deliver a capable QB but the WR’s are not game breakers who you can rely on to win games. And that’s why the defense is going to be so important this year. The Jets are going to have a hard time coming back in games. If you can get them down 14-17 points or more, they’re going to have to start throwing and that is not their strong point. Luckily for them, Rex Ryan is a defensive genius and they’ve got good players scattered around the defense. It’s going to be an up and down year for the Jets, but at least this time the team will be to blame, not a certain old QB.

Miami Dolphins
Why are they in the AFC East and not South? You could move Baltimore over to the East and Indy up to the North.

Head Coach: Tony Sparano
Offensive Coordinator: Dan Henning
Defensive Coordinator: Paul Pasqualoni
Special Teams Coordinator: John Bonamego
Owner: Stephen Ross and Wayne Huizenga

Offensive Starters (Projected)
QB: Chad Pennington
HB: Ronnie Brown
FB: Lousaka Polite
WR: Ted Ginn Jr.
WR: Davone Bess
LT: Jake Long
LG: Justin Smiley
C: Jake Grove
RG: Shawn Murphy
RT: Vernon Carey
TE: Anthony Fasano

Defensive Starters (Projected)
DE: Kendall Langford
DE: Jason Ferguson
DT: Phillip Merling
LB: Jason Taylor
LB: Channing Crowder
LB: Akin Ayodele
LB: Joey Porter
CB: Will Allen
CB: Eric Green
FS: Gibril Wilson
SS: Yeremiah Bell

Special Teams
K: Dan Carpenter
P: Brandon Fields

Position Battles:
Only a couple here.
WR: Ginn is going to play but the other starter is up for grabs.
CB: Will Allen and Eric Green are penciled in as starters, but Vontae Davis has a lot of talent and might make a case for playing time.

Rookies to Watch:
Vontae Davis has as much talent as any CB in the draft and while he’s not going to be a superstar, he’ll be a solid DB. Pat White will give them another threat out of the Wildcat formation.

Season Expectations:
They had a great year last year and it would be hard to repeat that success. Pennington had a huge year but the receivers don’t exactly fit his strengths. The defense is aging and might not have enough for another year in them. The O-line is one of the team’s strengths and it really helps their other strength, the running game. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are a good double whammy out of the backfield. Add in Pat White to the Wildcat formation and it’s an offense that can cause problems but they don’t have the consistent offense to make a serious run. The defense has playmakers, but position by position they don’t match up talent wise with teams in the rest of the division or the league in general. Of course, the same things could have been said last year and look what they did.

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