Thursday, August 26, 2010

Walker Sports NFL AFC East Previews






The 2010 NFL season is getting closer everyday. We are in week 3 of the preseason and the opening day rosters are starting to take shape. Before we get ready to kick everything off on September 8, make sure to get your full NFL preview right here at Walker Sports. Today we are talking about the AFC East.






New York Jets: The New York Jets are the center of the NFL universe right now. The Jets current stint on the HBO series ‘Hard Knocks’ is the most watched season ever for the hit show, and ratings will only increase as camp continues. Head coach Rex Ryan has pushed himself into the spotlight and is one of the most sought after coaches when the media is looking for a good sound bite. The Jets organization has let it be known, that anything less than a Super Bowl appearance would be a disappointment, and they love the pressure of those high expectations right now.

While the Jets defense is one of the best units in the NFL, with or without Darrelle Revis, in will be the maturation of their offense that are key if the Jets want to make the trip to Dallas for the Super Bowl. Mark Sanchez is entering his second year in the NFl, and he cannot afford to suffer from a sophomore slump. I will be the first to admit that Mark Sanchez outperformed my expectations last season. However, while the Jets were able to rack up wins in 2009, Sanchez’s stats remained very pedestrian. Sanchez was bailed out many times last season by a dominate running that that led the NFL is yards and carries. For any rookie quarterback, a reliable running attack is their best weapon. In 2010, the Jets will again turn to their ground game to churn out yards and be the engine to their offense. The key to the Jets offense will be the L.T. Shonn Greene is a reliable back and he game on strong at the end of last year and in the playoffs, but it was Thomas Jones who carried the team during the regular season. Greene, cannot be the only reliable back in the Jets lineup. L.T. finds his form, but if the past three seasons in San Diego are indication, this may not be an easy search. If the Jets fail to establish a reliable running game, they will be forced to rely on Mark Sanchez to make big plays, something he has never done in his college or NFL career. Not too many Super Bowl contenders want to place their offensive hopes on a quarterback with a QB Rating hovering around 70.

On defense, you know what you are going to get with the Jets. They brought in Kris Jenkins to play tackle, and if his knee is healthy that gives them a massive anchor in the middle of the line that should create plenty of holes for the linebackers to run through. If nothing else the Jets are very thin on defense, and they cannot afford to suffer any injuries. Right now the Jets defensive unit is still a premier unit in the NFL. With Rex Ryan calling the shots, the Jets will apply crazy amounts of pressure to opposing quarterbacks via elaborate blitz schemes. If there are breakdowns in the secondary, the Jets are good enough to skip on the blitzes and play a base defense and still shut down the majority of offenses in the league.

New England Patriots: I’m willing to announce it, as a matter of fact, I will shout it from the rooftops, the Bill Belichick, “I’m a genius” era is over in New England. Don’t believe me? Then think about this for a moment, the Patriots have not won a playoff game since 2007. Tom Brady was able to bounce back last season after suffering a season ending knee injury the previous year. Now it will be Wes Welker’s turn to return from knee surgery. While Randy Moss is still the big name receiver on the Patriots roster, it’s Wes Welker who is arguably the most important. With the way Welker has looked in training camp, it’s hard to believe he hurt his knee in January. The Patriots say he will be ready to go come September, but I have plenty of reservations of how effective Welker will actually be once the regular season kicks off. One interesting storyline on the offensive side of the ball for the Patriots is 2010 is a contract year from Tom Brady. Typically players put up big numbers in contract years, I’d venture out to say Brady will be out to prove a point in 2010, and show the NFL he is still an elite quarterback.
Defensively while Bill Belichick may not be the guru he once was a few years ago, he is still one of the best defensive minds in the game today. The Patriots will use multiple sets, and formations to bring pressure and attack opposing teams. The Belichick system of defense is based on confusion. He will rush linebackers and drop linemen, and vice versa. While teams are becoming more adept to this style of pressure it can still be very useful, especially when facing a team with a young quarterback or rookie offensive linemen.

The Patriots are not the team they once were, nothing has been the same since 2007, but they are still very dangerous. New England did win the AFC East last year, and they will not give up that crown without a fight. If nothing else, many of the players remember the glory days of this organization and they are willing to do anything to regain that swagger they had just a few years ago.

Miami Dolphins: I really like the Dolphins, and placing them third in the AFC East may be a bit disingenuous to them. This is an organization that has come a long way in a very short amount of time, and if things go their way they could be ready for a breakout year. Let’s start at quarterback. The Chad Pennington noodle arm era is over and Chad Henne is ready to step in and be the fulltime starter. This is good news for the Dolphins. Henne is a very competent quarterback who is capable of managing the game, and throwing the ball down the field to make plays should the situation call for it. You can expect Miami to explore the Wildcat offense some more in 2010 as well. The Dolphins have a slew of running backs, all of whom are becoming experts at running the Wildcat. Pat White should be back after suffering a nasty injury last season, welcome to the NFL. While it is doubtful the Dolphins will call on White to be a primary playmaker, he can step in and make plays as well as run various positions from the Wildcat formation. Finally the biggest upgrade to the Dolphins offense is the addition of Brandon Marshal. The disruptive receiver is one of the best in the NFL. Bill Parcells is still calling the shots in Miami and he knows how to handle diva wideouts. If Marshal remains focused and shows why he is one of the most feared receivers in the league he will add a big play element to the Miami offense that has not been there in years.

Make no doubt about it; this is a Bill Parcells team. The Dolphins are loaded with talent, they are all hungry and they have a chip on their shoulder. Like any Parcells team there are a few characters who may spend a bit too much time engaging in bad behavior off the field, but that can be forgiven if they perform on the field. 2010 is the third year under Parcells in Miami and he has used his executive power to build a powerful team that has gelled over time. Now is as good as any for the Dolphins to make a run for it.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills are becoming all too familiar with this spot at the bottom of the AFC East. While having a decent draft talent wise (C.J. Spiller). They didn’t address the obvious need on their team, which is quarterback. Right now the Bills have three quarterbacks on the roster, and all them of them should be playing 2nd or 3rd string to a real quarterback on another team. Also hurting the Bills offense is a complete lack of continuity on the offensive line. Last season every starter spent some meaningful time on the injury list. It will take time before this unit can gel into a cohesive unit that can play at an NFL level. That’s a situation to be in considering the AFC East is full of blitz happy teams like New England and the Jets. As far as receivers go, the situation is not much better. Lee Evans has shown glimpses of promise throughout his career, but he has yet to string together an entire season worth of quality performances. Outside of Evans the Bills don’t have a legit second receiver so it will be up to him to create any downfield threat.

It’s a transition year for the Bills and that will be shown on the field. They have a new GM, a new coach and a new 3-4 scheme on defense. This means there is plenty of room for error on this team. The good news is the Bills have loyal and devoted fans who will not abandon their team in a time of need. That’s a good thing, because there is a good chance the Bills finish with the worst record in the NFL this season.

No comments:

Post a Comment