AFCE-The year in review … and grades

AFCE-The year in review … and grades
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Buffalo Bills

Grade: C


The Bills came into this season louder than they have in recent memory, and expectations ran very high, especially after a 9-7 season in 2014. Unfortunately the noise created by Rex did not match the performance on the field.


Offensively the Bills finally settled on one QB, Tyrod Taylor, and the kid delivered as much as he was allowed to deliver. His legs were really his biggest asset, especially on a team that runs a lot more than they pass. Tyrod will need to prove himself once again, and a nice contract will be waiting. Watkins is a great talent, who plays on a team with limited targets. The OL improved, but needs better pass protection moving forward, as the team gave up sacks at an alarming rate.


Defensively the Bills regressed in a big way. The unit never bought into Rex’s system, and many of them will be gone as a result, because Rex is staying. If the defense had matched last year’s results, the Bills could have won 10 games and maybe in the playoffs. This unit couldn’t buy a sack if it was given away for free.


The HC, Rex was the same guy we all have come to love and hate, except this time he started out slower than he did in NY. Unfortunately historically Rex only gets worst.


Outlook: Bills will have a few moves to make to get under the CAP and improve the roster. I think a few defensive players will be gone. However this defense can only go up. 2016 is going to be a tough year for the division, and to match the 8 wins will not be an easy task.


Miami Dolphins

Grade: F


The Dolphins must have been the happiest team in the division to see their nightmare of a season come to an end. I’m not sure that anything went right from the start. Firing Philbin midseason was still dumb in my mind, and I think it hurts them as they search for a new HC.

Offensively this team was bad, real bad, and it all started with its leader, Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill regressed in many ways, and even some second year QBs had better years. Most of the blame has to fall on OC Lazor, who was never really an OC to begin with. The OL is pitiful at best and its become clear that the money spent on Fat Albert were simply wasted. The running game, or the lack of one, didn’t help Ryan either. At WR, the most improved player was the one they probably lose, Rishard Matthews. Parker showed some signs towards the end; Landry is steady but he needs a #1 WR that can open more space for him.


Defensively the signing of Suh didn’t do as was expected, stop teams from running at will. The DL played poorly, the LBs are second or third rate. The DBs. outside of Reshad Jones were all awful. This unit is in need of new blood and a serious make over.


The HCs; Joe Philbin was bad, no doubt about it, and his decisions to hire coaches was even worst. He should have been fired a year ago, instead that patched up job only led to this disaster. Dan Campbell is hard to knock, never easy to take over a team midseason, especially when you have no experience. He did as well as he could, but this ship wasn’t going to be saved by Oklahoma Drills and lots of cheerleading.


Outlook: Dolphins will have to make moves to get under the CAP, but it shouldn’t be hard, there are so many useless bodies that can be cut. Improving the defense is priority number one again, and getting Tannehill some real OL will also help. A new HC may scrap the entire roster, and start with a new mentality. Next year you cannot expect better than 6 wins, the schedule compared to this year is brutal.


New England Patriots

Grade: B++


The Patriots win 12 and not an A? Yea, I had to think on this one. Very hard to give this team an A, in a year when the schedule was much easier than normal. The Patriots have had their share of injuries, but their core that has won with injuries before was still there (Brady and Gronk). We have praised them winning while overcoming injuries, we must knock them when they can’t. They have played bad football and lost their last 2 straight,  and 4 of last 6,. This stretch pushed them out of the #1 seed, and left many wondering if they can handle what is next.


Offensively the Patriots are always among the best, this year was no exception. Tom, although he was hit a lot more this season, contrary to popular belief is still one of the best and age seems to only really be a number. The OL was pathetically thin all year, as it has been for a while, but this time it caught up to them. I expect the Pats to be reloaded for game one in the playoffs, but is it going to be enough?


Defensively this team was way better than anyone ever thought. Belichick has become the master of the “we bend just enough”, because our offense will make sure we don’t break. The DL, the same one we made fun of as being the worst in the division, was among the best. The lack of Depth at LB, where the likes of Mayo should have been gone already was evident.


The HC is still the best in the business, maybe the best ever. Bilichick has been the constant during all these years. Some of us non Patriots fans really wish he would decide to spend more time in his house on Cape Cod, fishing.


Outlook: The Patriots will have to retool the OL, protecting Tom without expecting him to release the ball in .000000000001 seconds isn’t fair. Before we worry about that, there are the playoffs to be played. I’m not a huge fan of this team making it to the SB this time around, just don’t think they are playing well enough. However, the AFC is not that strong, and a Patriots return to the Big Dance wouldn’t surprise me.


New York Jets

Grade: B-


A year ago this franchise was the laughing stock of our extinguished fans here at The Sideline Reporter. However, I cannot give this team an A, even if the winning column increased by 6, there are still too many issues, and things that were not deserving of an A. A week ago I would have given them a B+, but losing in Buffalo made them go down a notch.


Offensively they have grown tremendously in all phases of the game. Yes, the addition of a QB and a top WR helped, but to me that wasn’t the upgrade. Chan Gailey’s spread offense turned this team into one that was more fun to watch than the boring “run right/run left/run middle” of Rex’s years.  Continuing tradition, the biggest flop was the #2 pick, WR Devin Smith. The team should have also used Bilal Powell they way he was used during the winning streak. Powell became a key ingredient.


Defensively the team was good, but not as good as I expected. Top 10 in many categories, but I think that there were games they disappeared. At CB, Antonio Cromartie has probably played his last game in a Jets uniform. The emergence of Marcus William’s, makes Cro and his contract expandable. Revis was real good, not sure why Todd Bowles decided to play him in man coverage in week 17, that was clearly a rookie HC mistake.


The HC did better than expected in his rookie year. No doubt that Todd has to improve his clock management and quick decision making, but he performed at a much higher level than what we had. I think the future with Bowles looks promising.


Outlook: Special Teams was a huge weakness, and it may have cost them a game or two. No surprise Bobby April was fired. A new more innovative and energetic coach will be needed. The schedule next year will be brutal, compared to this year. This team can win 8 games instead of 10 and be a better team. Decisions will have to be made with some expiring contracts, and some that are no longer needed. The CAP situation is good. GM, Maccagnan needs to have a good draft to make the team younger.

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