NY Jets: Comparing the current state of the team to their AFC East rivals
By Alex Wendling
The NY Jets seem like a new and improved team heading into the 2020 season, but what about their adversaries? We compare the current state of the Jets to their division rivals.
For the last two decades, the AFC East has been dominated by Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots. The last time the NY Jets won a division title, Herm Edwards was their head coach.
Yes, its been that long since the Jets won the AFC East and the last time they had a home game in the playoffs. But now, with Brady on his way to Tampa Bay along with Rob Gronkowski, the Jets have a shot at possibly winning a division title for the first time in 18 years.
The Jets are considered a dark horse team to win the AFC East while the Buffalo Bills are considered to be the frontrunner to take over for the Patriots as the top dog in the division after an impressive 10-6 season in 2019.
Let’s take a look at each of the Jets’ division rivals.
New England Patriots
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick won 29 regular-season games against the Jets since Brady became the starter in 2001. But a lot has changed as Brady is gone and right now it looks like second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham will be filling Brady’s shoes as the starter in Foxborough this upcoming season.
Other than the departure of Brady, the Patriots also traded all-pro tight end Rob Gronkowski (who sat out all of last season) and drafted two new tight ends — Devin Asiasi from UCLA and Dalton Keene from Virginia Tech.
The Patriots are in a transitional phase right now after losing some key players on both sides of the ball. This might finally be the year the Jets can sweep the Patriots in the regular season — something they haven’t done since 2000.
The Jets have enough talent on defense to take advantage of a young quarterback like Stidham and maybe Jamal Adams will get another pick-six off him.
Like the Jets, the Dolphins had a very bumpy 2019 season with a lot of highs and lows, but somehow stayed competitive even with a journeyman quarterback like Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The Dolphins made some big improvements in the offseason beefing up their defense by acquiring linebacker Kyle Van Noy — who played for Miami head coach Brian Flores in New England, — cornerback Byron Jones, pass rusher Shaq Lawson, and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
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The biggest acquisition was drafting Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick.
However, Tagovailoa may not be starting right away and will probably have to sit back and observe as veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will, in all likelihood, be the Week 1 starter for Miami.
I don’t see the Dolphins being much of a threat this year. They are still in a rebuilding mode even after signing veteran talent in free agency.
But, with the young roster they have, the Dolphins are an up-and-coming team and their future may depend on how long it takes for Tagovailoa to wrestle away the starting role.
The consensus frontrunner to win the division is the Buffalo Bills — and they should be.
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In 2019, the Bills had the third-ranked defense and the eighth-ranked rushing offense. Buffalo has plenty of key veterans returning in 2020 such as Pro Bowl cornerback Tre’Davious White, safety Micah Hyde, defensive end Jerry Hughes, and wide receiver John Brown.
Leading the Buffalo herd is quarterback Josh Allen who will be entering into his third year and is coming off a breakout season where he threw for 3,000+ yards along with 20 touchdowns.
Buffalo won a wild card spot last year but went one and done in the playoffs after losing to the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round.
As impressive as Josh Allen was last year I still believe Sam Darnold has more potential than his fellow 2018 draftee as long as his team could give him the assets to succeed.
The Bills are definitely a more talented team than the Jets, but the latter might be the only team that can compete with Buffalo in 2020 for the AFC East title.