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  • Russo's Playbook

AFC East: Off-Season Outlook

Updated: Mar 23, 2021

In our latest episode, Season 3: Page 2, of our podcast, we discussed the AFC East & what each team needs to be focused on this off-season. We’ll be breaking down each division, highlighting one per week. Here’s what each AFC East team needs:

If you would rather watch us discuss this instead of read about it, click here.

Buffalo Bills

The bills have everything they need to run it back again. They made the AFC Championship last season where they lost to the Super Bowl runner up Kansas City Chiefs, 38-24. They dominated the AFC East with a 13-3 record including 6-0 against their fellow AFC East members. Josh Allen has improved every year of his career, so we expect him to take another step forward during this off-season as well. They could use some help on their offensive line, as they need to protect their now-star QB. He was only sacked 1.8 times per game in 2020, but that low number could be due to his athleticism and ability to escape the pocket. Things can become easier for him if they add some pieces to the O-Line, & depth in that position group is always key for any team. The weapons are there, & Allen taking another stride in the right direction should have the Bills poised for another great season offensively. On the defensive side of the ball, they could use a pass rusher. They ranked 15th in the NFL in sacks per game which isn’t necessarily bad, but an improvement there could put them over the edge. They’ll need to re-sign their linebacker Matt Milano or find a replacement for him via the NFL Draft or Free Agency. All in all, we’re predicting the Bills will repeat as AFC East Champs next season.

New England Patriots

We all know the Patriots have dominated the AFC East for basically all of recent history. Going into last season, the Pats had won 16 of the previous 17 AFC East Championships. However, a pretty important fella left the team that off-season. With no more Tom Brady, Bill Belichick & the Pats struggled to find a rhythm & get anything going offensively. Their offense was 27th in yards/game & in points/game, so it’s glaringly obvious that offense should be their focus this off-season. Do they look for a new QB in the Draft or try to trade for a vet? Either way, it’s clear the Cam Newton in New England idea didn’t work out, & they should be looking for other options. The other main issue with their offense is the lack of weapons. They definitely need a number 1 receiver & should get two solid receivers if they can. They have done nothing but swing and miss on wide receivers in the draft for the past decade. Not even kidding, they’ve drafted 9 wide receivers since 2010, & 7 of them aren’t even in the NFL anymore. The only two left are the most recent two; Braxton Berrios who now plays for the Jets, & N’Keal Harry who was supposed to be the much needed number 1 guy, but hasn’t panned out so far. I'll sum it up like this; Braxton Berrios' & N'Keal Harry's career stats COMBINED are 88 catches, 923 yards, & 7 touchdowns. The best receiver in this division, Stefon Diggs, beat all three of those numbers by himself in JUST last season. They need to get a receiver in Free Agency that has already shown he can produce at a high level. The Pats can’t afford to miss on any more weapons, especially without Brady there to save the day anymore. Their defense can use some improvements in the secondary, but offense needs to be the focus of the Patriots’ off-season.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins were a surprise last season. They went from 5-11 & worst in the AFC East, to 10-6 & 2nd in the division. Brian Flores seems to have built an amazing culture & a solid football team. Tua seems to be the guy in Miami & we're looking for him to take some strides forward throughout next season. What should they do with the #3 pick? If DeVonta Smith is available, get him. They need another weapon to build around Tua so either Smith or Ja'Marr Chase would be great for them. They can make some moves on defense too, probably going after a safety or linebacker in the NFL Draft or in free agency. They're corners are elite & they had the 6th highest pass pressure rate in the league last season. If the Dolphins do these things they should be fighting for a playoff spot again.

New York Jets

The Jets should keep applying pressure to get Deshaun Watson or get a QB with their #2 pick in the NFL Draft. If they try Sam Darnold again, it's highly unlikely they would be competing in this division. The Jets need a lot of pieces. They can answer some of their question marks with the draft & free agency. Even if they hit perfect, it all depends on their QB performance, whichever direction they choose to go. The franchise has an opportunity to set themselves up for a solid future. If they play their cards right, they can be a very good football team in the next couple of years. The Jets gotta let Sammy D go so he can try to be great elsewhere, as it didn't work out in New York. Other than QB, they need to improve at corner, wide receiver, & O-line. We'll see what the Jets do throughout the off-season, but as of right now we aren't expecting them to be competing for the top 2 spots in the AFC East.

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