AFC East Stock Watch

September, 13, 2011
9/13/11
1:00
PM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. Miami Dolphins' defense: I'm new to the AFC East blog. But I was under the impression that Miami's defense was the strength of the team. The unit was ranked No. 6 in the NFL last season. But the New England Patriots carved up Miami for 622 yards in a 38-24 win on "Monday Night Football." It was a very warm night in Miami and the unit looked gassed early. I noticed many Dolphins defenders had their hands on their hips in the second quarter. New England's offense was up-tempo and used a lot of no-huddle throughout the game. The Dolphins couldn't keep up, despite the fact Miami coach Tony Sparano said the team was prepared for it. Several Miami defenders suffered cramps in the second half, as well. The Dolphins have a lot to fix in a short week before playing the Houston Texans.

2. Patriots' defense: If not for New England quarterback Tom Brady's dazzling display (we will get to that later), much of the Patriots' conversation would revolve around their inconsistent defense. New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott famously said last season that New England's defense couldn't "stop a nosebleed." The Patriots struggled against Miami, which racked up 488 yards of total offense. If New England's offense gains 622 yards and scores 38 points every week, it wouldn't be an issue. But there will be games when good defenses give Brady & Co. trouble. Will New England's defense be ready to pick up the slack?

3. New York Jets' running game: The Jets had one rushing first down in Sunday's 27-24 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Running backs Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson combined for 42 yards on 15 carries (2.8 yards per rush). The Jets used to be a power running team. Maybe they are getting away from that too much in favor of throwing 40-plus times. New York's run-to-pass ratio was 16-to-44. I'm curious to see which direction New York's offense evolves.

RISING

[+] EnlargeTom Brady
Marc Serota/Getty ImagesTom Brady was firing on all cylinders Monday night.
1. Tom Brady, Patriots quarterback: Brady put on an amazing show with 517 yards passing, four touchdowns and one interception. Brady was two steps ahead of Miami's defense the entire night and picked the Dolphins apart. Brady spread the ball around and had four players with more than 80 yards receiving. New England will be tough to beat if Brady continues this MVP-level of play.

2. The Buffalo Bills: The Bills put together the most complete, Week 1 performance in the AFC East. They were dominant on offense and defense during a 41-7 rout of the Kansas City Chiefs. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was very efficient. He threw for 208 yards, four touchdowns and had the best Total Quarterback Rating of any Week 1 quarterback. Buffalo's defense also forced three turnovers. Based on what I've seen in Week 1, this division could be deep and competitive this year.

3. Chad Henne, Dolphins quarterback: This wasn't the bad Chad Henne I kept reading about. Henne looked poised and confident in his 2011 debut against the Patriots. He threw for a career-high 416 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. This is a big year for Henne to prove he is Miami's starting quarterback. He has a strong arm and is surprisingly mobile. Now, Henne needs to put it all together more consistently in his fourth season.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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