Saturday, May 26, 2012
Ranking AFC East offenses
By James Walker
The AFC East blog continues its rankings this offseason. Sunday, we take a look at the offenses in the division.
No. 1: New England Patriots
Analysis: No debate here. New England has the best quarterback, the best receivers and the best tight ends in the AFC East. It's really not even close. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady leads the way and continues to play at an elite level, despite turning 35 in August. Receiver Wes Welker and tight end Rob Gronkowski are both Pro Bowlers, and teammates Brandon Lloyd and Aaron Hernandez also are dangerous. The only question on this team is the running game. New England lost leading rusher BenJarvus Green-Ellis in free agency, and he was a good fit. The Patriots will try to fill the hole with youngsters Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead. Free-agent Joseph Addai also will get a shot.
No. 2: Buffalo Bills
Analysis: The Bills have the potential to be solid on offense. The big question is, can quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick prove he is the long-term solution? Fitzpatrick looked fine early in 2011 and fell off in the second half of last season. Injured ribs were mentioned as one of the reasons. Running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller should be one of the best one-two punches in the NFL this year. Steve Johnson is a solid receiver coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. The Bills also have a versatile offensive line that fits their wide open style. The Bills still need to find their No. 2 receiver. David Nelson filled the void at the end of last year, but he's better in the slot. Donald Jones is coming back from injury and rookie T.J. Graham will get a hard look. If the Bills figure that out, their offense can be dangerous.
No. 3: New York Jets
Analysis: New York was ranked 25th in offense last year, which was a major disappointment. This group underachieved and can do better next season. That is the task of new Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. He must get this group on the same page and playing more efficient. This is a big year for quarterback Mark Sanchez, who must reduce his turnovers and make more plays. Backup quarterback Tim Tebow also will play a role, especially in the Wildcat offense. Shonn Greene is coming off his first 1,000-yard season, but I'm still not sure he’s a franchise tailback back. Receiver Santonio Holmes and tight end Dustin Keller can make plays if Sanchez is able to get them the football in big spots. Pass protection also needs to improve. Sanchez was pummeled last year and took a lot of big shots.
No. 4: Miami Dolphins
Analysis: This is the only AFC East team entering training camp with a quarterback competition. Incumbent Matt Moore and veteran David Garrard have the inside track for the starting job. Rookie first-round pick Ryan Tannehill also won't be ruled out, although most expect him to hold a clipboard. The Dolphins have a lot of uncertainty at receiver. Brian Hartline (35 receptions in 2011) is the team’s No. 1 receiver. Davone Bess, Legedu Naanee and Clyde Gates also will fight for major roles in the offense. Dolphins rookie head coach Joe Philbin says he doesn't need big-name receivers in the passing game. But these players have to get open for the quarterback, whoever that may be, to be successful. Miami's running game is the strength of the offense, with tailback Reggie Bush coming off his first 1,000-yard season. But this group needs a lot of work in the first year running a West Coast offense.