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Behind Enemy Lines: Analysts Size Up The AFC East
By on July 16, 2015 at 2:00 pm

071515-BillsDuring the 2015 offseason, there may not have been a more active division than the AFC East. A division full of change, intrigue, and one that looks more competitive than ever before, every team in it received a makeover of some sort. We had two coaching changes in New York, multiple defensive personnel changes in New England, and the Dolphins landing the biggest free agent on the market in Ndamukong Suh.

To learn more about Miami’s most familiar foes, The Finsiders recently conducted several interviews with insiders on each of Miami’s rivals in the AFC East to get an inside scoop on the teams the Dolphins will face twice during the season.

Tim Graham of the Buffalo News said that the Bills may have a headline stealer in new Head Coach Rex Ryan. While they also have one of the league’s strongest defenses and talented offensive skill players like LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins, it’ll likely all come to down to the quarterback position for Buffalo, the biggest unknown quantity for the franchise.

“If anybody wants to ask me if they’re going to make the playoffs, I think they have a good chance,” said Graham. “If they do it’s going to be barely…because we don’t have any clue who the quarterback is going to be. There’s a belief that it could be Matt Cassel or Matt Cassel might not make the team. It could be E.J. Manuel, or E.J. Manuel might not make the team. Tyrod Taylor, a guy who nobody thought high enough to draft him, he was a 6th round pick out of Virginia Tech and no one thought in Baltimore to give Tyrod Taylor a look. Now all of a sudden he might be the starting quarterback.”

The New York Jets face a similar issue at the quarterback position, as Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and rookie Bryce Petty are all options at the spot for Gang Green. According to Newyorkjets.com’s Eric Allen, Smith is the leader in the clubhouse right now.

“Geno Smith is the incumbent,” said Allen. “Todd Bowles has been clear about it from the get-go that he’s going to go into training camp and get the reps with the first team offense. Bowles has said it’s Geno Smith’s job to lose. But Ryan Fitzpatrick has had success with Chan Gailey the new offensive coordinator…and Bryce Petty, the Jets really like the value they got there in the fourth round.

“Right now the pecking order is definitely Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Bryce Petty.”

Erik Frenz, the AFC East Lead Writer for Bleacher Report still sees the defending Super Bowl Champion Patriots as a team that will post double digit victories. But the rest of the division, especially one team, isn’t too far behind.

“On paper, all these teams have made strides closing that gap in different degrees,” said Frenz. “Of the three other teams, the Dolphins are the team that has the best chance to do that because they have a proven quarterback who has improved every year in the NFL in Ryan Tannehill. He has improved in every stat that you can imagine over the three years of his career, and he has a better set of weapons this year than he’s ever had in my opinion. I think if all those pieces can come together this offseason, this could be a season where the Dolphins make a push for the playoffs.”

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Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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