The AFC East has long been dominated by the New England Patriots, much to the chagrin of other NFL fan bases. But it is a new season and there are several new faces in training camps around the East. What will the upcoming season bring in terms of competing with the Patriots for the division crown?
The Bills have struggled in training camp up to this point, and they lost many members of their receiving corps this past offseason. On Monday, the team signed free agent wide receiver Anquan Boldin to a deal and he will compete for the No. 2 spot behind Sammy Watkins. That is good news for the Bills considering Watkins’ struggles with staying healthy, and it gives quarterback Tyrod Taylor another weapon.
Following the non-contact knee injury to quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins urged Jay Cutler to come out of retirement and signed him to a one-year, $10 million deal. NFL fans feel like the blackballed Colin Kaepernick would have been a better signing, but head coach Adam Gase is very familiar with Cutler. Injuries have plagued Miami this preseason, and running back Jay Ajayi is dealing with concussion symptoms.
New England Patriots
The Patriots lost Rob Ninkovich to retirement, and had former Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork announce his retirement from the Houston Texans. Tom Brady is back for what seems like his 100th season, and he has plenty of weapons at his disposal on offense. Newly acquired receiver Brandin Cooks is sure to help the offense extend their deep threat, and former Bills running back Mike Gillislee looks to lead a three-headed rushing attack for the Patriots. The biggest question leading up to week one seems to be this: How many games will New England win their division by?
New York Jets
Oh, New York, it is only the preseason and the wheels are already falling off the bus. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg was reportedly asked to leave the field because he couldn’t properly break the huddle, and here come more chants from the pro-Kaepernick crowd.
The Hackenberg incident was reported by Sports Illustrated‘s Tim Rohan:
“On Monday at Jets’ camp, Christian Hackenberg was having trouble just breaking the huddle correctly. During one rep in seven-on-seven drills, as he approached the line of scrimmage, a coach ordered him to re-huddle. When he broke the huddle again—in the wrong fashion for a second time—he was ordered off the field. No one expects the Jets to contend this season, but at some point, they will have to decide whether Hackenberg is the answer at quarterback, a decision that could affect their 2018 draft plans and their franchise for years to come. So for now, all eyes are on him. The next time Hackenberg took the field, he broke the huddle correctly and threaded a pass about 20 yards downfield for a completion. That kind of resilience will serve him well, if he wants to be the Jets’ long-term quarterback answer.”
At this point in training camp, it looks as if another Patriots’ AFC East crown is not only doable, but might already have been accomplished. But there is plenty of time for the other teams within the division to turn it around.
After all, we are only in week one of the preseason.