(Long Island, NY) The AFC East is a division that can go in two completely different directions. The New England Patriots figure to be on top as usual and the Jets have enough talent and the right coaching staff to compete for a Wild Card berth. Both the Buffalo Bills (7-9) and Miami Dolphins (6-10) should improve, but by how many games remains to be seen.
J.P. Losman finally had a season to give Bills fans hope that he is the answer at quarterback. Their backfield was totally revamped with the drafting of Marshawn Lynch and the trade of Willis Magahee to Baltimore. There is great hype surrounding this player and to give him the holes to run through, the organization spent $74 million to sign two new members of the offensive line in Derrick Dockery and Langston Walker.
Change is also in the air in South Florida. Cam Cameron takes over for the departed Nick Saban and has two new quarterbacks to work with. John Beck was drafted and the 37 year-old Trent Green arrived from Kansas City, who is coming off an ineffective season where he missed eight games following a concussion and will give fans of The Fish major concerns. Although Green has been a serviceable QB throughout his career, his legacy may be somewhat of a Wally Pip-reference. In 1999, Green was the starter in St. Louis when he went down during a preseason game to give Kurt Warner a shot, which he merely won the league MVP, Super Bowl MVP and delivered a Super Bowl ring.
For Miami to do anything they need to improve on their 1-5 division and 3-9 conference marks. That will not be easy to do, with the AFC East being the only division in the NFL with two teams finishing with double-digit wins.
As for the Jets, they finally have their full squad in camp after signing first round draft pick Darrellle Revis out of Pitt. Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said, “We traded up for him, we think he is a talented player and he is going to come in and help us this year and for many years to come, hopefully.”
Missing the first two weeks of his initial NFL training camp is not something that can be overlooked for the rookie cornerback, and he is aware of that. “It was tough,” Revis said. “Being the competitive football player I am, I didn’t want to sit there and see my teammates playing. I was frustrated for a while but I just looked at the positive side and let my agents handle it.”
Jets head coach Eric Mangini realizes that while it is important to have Revis in camp, there is much for him to learn at this stage. “We’re excited about having him, obviously drafting him where we drafted him, and knowing the person that he is,” the second year coach said. “It will be good to get him out there. He’s got a lot of work to do.”
The Jets secondary could use a boost from their top draft pick. Last season, it was one of their problem areas that seemed like a revolving door. Andre Dyson, Justin Miller, David Barrett and Hank Poteat will all be back, as will Kerry Rhodes, who had a brilliant season with five sacks and four interceptions. Miller contributed more on special teams a year ago with a 28.3 average, two touchdown returns and a Pro Bowl selection, but figures to get more involved on the defensive side of the ball in 2007.
Considering that the Jets will play six divisional contests, this could be viewed as a positive or a negative. The bright side is that they can contribute to their rivals’ woes by defeating them when they face one another.