Jets, Pats, Dolphins Making a Big Off-Season Splash
The AFC East is already regarded as one of the better divisions in all of football, mainly because of it’s two powerhouses, the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. The Dolphins have been much better than their 7-9 record last season, which was largely due to their inability to win close games and having to play the Jets and Pats four times. Of course the Buffalo Bills are still the bottom-feeders in the AFC East, but basically every division in football has a four, five, or six win team at best sitting at the bottom of the division. With all that being said, the recent acquisitions and re-signings by the Jets, Pats, and Dolphins have, in my opinion, solidified the AFC East as, at the very least, the toughest division in the conference.
New York Jets – The Jets made their first splash of the off-season when they re-signed Santonio Holmes, widely regarded as the best wide-receiver on the market. Now, Rex Ryan and General Manger Mike Tannenbaum have turned their attention to clearly the prize of free agency, shutdown corner Nnamdi Asomugha. All reports have confirmed that both the Jets and Asomugha have expressed interest in one another and that the two sides have been talking extensively. The Jets already have a top five defense and the best cornerback in the league in Darrelle Revis. Can you imagine what their defense would be like if they can nab Asomugha? Opposing quarterbacks wouldn’t be able to throw a pass more than five yards to their receivers, and Rex Ryan would have an absolute field day creating blitz packages.
New England Patriots – The Patriots have also been busy during this short and crazy off-season, recently trading for extremely talented but often lazy and disgruntled Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth had a few dominating years in Tennessee before ending up in then head coach Jeff Fisher’s proverbial dog-house. The Titans eventually parted ways with the troublesome star which led to his free agent signing with the Redskins. Haynesworth again feuded with the head coach, this time with Mike Shanahan. He was lazy on the field, taking plays off at times, but Haynesworth’s biggest problems came in practice. He was deemed out of shape by Shanahan, who belittled him time and time again, making him run through conditioning tests over and over again before he could join the rest of the team for practice.
Haynesworth was a major distraction for the Redskins, especially within the locker room as teammates constantly had to answer questions about he and Shanahan’s ongoing feud. The Redskins were finally able to rid themselves of 350-pounds of dead weight when it was reported that they had traded the 2-time All-Pro to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. The strong leadership atop the Patriots organization coupled with a stable locker room should do wonders for Haynesworth. I think the Patriots are the perfect team for Albert as they’ve shown time and time again that they can handle and subdue problem-players (ie: Randy Moss and Corey Dillon). With Haynesworth and Vince Wilfork anchoring the defensive line, the Pats should have no trouble creating pressure and stopping the run.
Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins have made the most recent splash in the AFC East, acquiring versatile running back/receiver Reggie Bush from the New Orleans Saints. I think Bush can work wonders in Tony Sparano’s gimmicky system. Bush can be lethal running out of the wild-cat as well as in the slot. Pairing Bush with the Dolphins other weapons such as Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, and hopefully Ronnie Brown will make the Fins a formidable threat on offense.
The Dolphins are also reported to be in conversations with the Denver Broncos in hopes of acquiring quarterback Kyle Orton. Orton threw for over 3,000 yards last season and has shown he is capable of being a starting quarterback in the NFL. Orton and Henne will battle it out in training camp, which can only make both quarterbacks even better. The potential trade for Orton and the acquisition of Bush coupled with the Dolphins top ten caliber defense makes the Fins yet another threat in the stacked AFC East.