The Miami Dolphins have made a lot of moves this off-season in the hopes of making a move in the AFC East but what have the other teams in the division done?
From free agency to the NFL Draft later this month, the Miami Dolphins and the AFC East have undergone a lot of changes this off-season. We spoke with TheJetPress.com site expert Paul Esden, Jr. about his team’s off-season and draft plans.
The AFC East saw quite a few changes but none more noticeable than Tom Brady leaving the Patriots. Later this week we will speak with site experts from Buffalowdown.com and MusketFire.com about how they view the changes to their teams but for now, we are going to focus on the New York Jets, perhaps the biggest Miami Dolphins rival in the division.
"How do you feel your off-season has gone so far?"
Weird. Normally the NY Jets are all about “winning the offseason” making big splashy moves in free agency and getting all of our hopes up. With Joe Douglas at the helm, he’s been meticulous, calculated, and financially responsible.
Quite frankly, we as Gang Green fans aren’t used to that approach so it has been a very weird offseason. Although I’ll say this, I have a quiet confidence about everything that has transpired so far. The offensive line is better (not that it’s saying much compared to last year) and the team has brought back several key free agents. It sets up for a very important 2020 NFL Draft and Douglas needs to hit some home-runs.
"What free agent do you think will have the biggest impact in 2020?"
I’ll give you two answers to this question, one in-house (someone they retained) and a new free-agent addition:
Jordan Jenkins, outside linebacker.
Jenkins has spent his entire four-year career with the green and white after being a third-round pick out of Georgia. He’s never been a double-digit sack guy, but every year of his career he has exponentially increased his sack production. Last year was a career year (eight sacks) under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Jenkins tested the open market reportedly looking for a long-term deal that paid between $10M and $13M. Instead, he ended up returning to the Jets on a one-year $5 million deal. Great value and I think Jenkins in a contract year will breakthrough with a double-digit sack season.
One new addition that’ll have the biggest impact is Connor McGovern at center. While the offensive line isn’t the sexiest thing in the world, the Jets have been lost at center ever since Nick Mangold announced his retirement. McGovern is the team’s best offensive lineman right now and he’s a massive upgrade over former All-Pro Ryan Kalil.
"What player lost in free agency will hurt the most?"
The NY Jets didn’t lose a ton of key cogs from the previous season to be honest. The obvious answer to this question is Robby Anderson. While his stats with the green and white are underwhelming, he was the best the team has had over the years.
If he would’ve come back at the right price I would’ve loved to see him return. Great chemistry already with Sam Darnold, but it won’t hurt that much **IF** the team takes care of business in the 2020 NFL Draft. Right now the team’s top receivers are Breshad Perriman, Vyncint Smith, and Jamison Crowder.
If the Jets enter the season with that pile of garbage, then they’ll 100 percent regret allowing Robby to leave. But on the other side of the coin if the NY Jets upgrade the unit in what some NFL Draft analysts are calling the deepest wide receiver class in recent memory, then they’ll be just fine.
"What direction do you think your team will take in the draft, who do you hope they draft?"
Overall the team has several areas they need to address (in no particular order): edge rusher, wide receiver, offensive line, cornerback, backup quarterback, kicker, and punter.
Luckily the NY Jets have eight selections including four picks in the top-79 to upgrade this team’s talent base. In the first round, the conversation has been boiled down to wide receiver or offensive tackle with the 11th overall pick.
My personal favorites: love Andrew Thomas out of Georgia. He’s got a super high floor and would be a plug-and-play blindside protector for the next decade. At wide receiver, CeeDee Lamb is my No. 1 guy who brings physicality, a go-get-it attitude with the ball in the air, and does his best work after he has the ball in his hands.
"Big changes to the AFC East this off-season, who do you see realistically winning the division?"
I recently had Jim Nagy, Executive Director of the Senior Bowl and former NFL Scout for 18+ years on The Jets Zone podcast (a lot of those with the New England Patriots) and he told me this when I asked him about the division: “the AFC East is the most wide-open division in football heading into 2020.”
Here are my unbiased power rankings: Buffalo Bills are the favorite (didn’t really lose anything this offseason and added a lot), NY Jets (they have all the tools just have to execute and have a great draft), New England Patriots (they still have Bill Belichick but a ton of holes), and the Miami Dolphins have a ton of picks and spent a lot of money in free agency but they have a long way to go.
It’s the Bills to lose until someone takes it away from them. The Patriots dynasty is over and anyone who thinks otherwise is drinking yesterday’s Kool-Aid!
It is interesting to hear a division rival give the division power rankings to another rival not named New England. I think with the way the off-season has gone, the Bills do make a lot of sense and in this, I agree with Paul completely. I do believe that the rest of the division is more convoluted, however. The Dolphins won five of the last nine games last year and made big strides at the end of the season, including ending the Patriots shot at home-field advantage.
Does that mean that I believe the Dolphins are ready to make a big jump in 2020 to take the division? No, of course not. I am not sure how the Jets and Patriots will play this year. While there is Bill Belichick in New England, there is also Adam Gase in New York and frankly, in my opinion, they are very far apart in terms of coaching ability.
The Dolphins may surprise a lot of people this year but I would not say for a second that they are ready to challenge for the division. Not this year.