Wednesday, August 3, 2011
AFC East post-lockout grades
By ESPN.com staff
Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. graded each AFC team on how much it improved after the NFL lockout ended in this ESPN Insider piece. Here are some of the things he had to say about each team in the AFC East.
New England Patriots: B+
The Patriots released a couple of key contributors from their past few seasons. But they obviously adhere to the philosophy that it is better to get rid of a player a year too early instead of a year too late, and their track record pretty much speaks for itself. Because of that track record, many tend to just assume that adding Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco will pay off in spades. Well, personally, I think one of these two moves will pay off (and pay off huge), and that is the addition of Haynesworth.
New York Jets: B
When the lockout ended, the Jets were a team that wasn't in particularly good shape with respect to the salary cap. But they were quick to lock up Santonio Holmes, a guy I view as a true No. 1 wide receiver (and I very rarely use that distinction). Although his off-the-field history is a concern, bringing Holmes back was a must to keep things as simple as possible for Mark Sanchez.
Miami Dolphins: B-
Miami hasn't gone out and grabbed a big-time quarterback, but I see this team as vastly improved. The Dolphins have improved the supporting cast around the quarterback position and have made life easier on Chad Henne. I also expect Miami to have one of the elite defenses in football this year. Bringing back Tony McDaniel for depth is a valuable re-signing, but upgrading from Channing Crowder to Kevin Burnett -- who offers a wider overall skill set -- makes a lot of sense, considering that, to thrive in this division, the Dolphins need to deal with the wide variety of offensive personnel groupings New England will throw at them.
Buffalo Bills: D+
Buffalo probably isn't the most attractive place for free agents to go, but the Bills need to be more active than what they have done so far if they are ever going to compete in the AFC East. Nick Barnett is a fine consolation prize after losing Paul Posluszny and his leadership, every-down skills, and ability to play in an even or odd front, a prize that should pay off immediately in Buffalo's multiple defense.