There is still one game left to play in the regular season. But as soon as the games end Sunday, the offseason begins and things could move fast and furious for the Buffalo Bills (5-10), Miami Dolphins (7-8) and New York Jets (6-9).
While the New England Patriots prepare for the playoffs next week, the rest of the AFC East will begin working on what went wrong. Here are four immediate stories to monitor:
1. Chan Gailey Watch
The Buffalo Bills have a big decision to make with embattled head coach Chan Gailey. On Sunday, Gailey will complete his third consecutive double-digit loss season and is 15-32 overall. There is not much of a case to retain Gailey for a fourth year. But the Bills can be unpredictable. For example, they retained their previous head coach, Dick Jauron, in a similar spot after three consecutive losing seasons.
If the Bills fire Gailey, they must move fast. This can't be a decision where the Bills take several weeks to decide, when they could better spend that time interviewing top coaching candidates. We should know Buffalo's decision to fire or keep Gailey no more than a week or two after the season.
2. Jets' GM situation
General manager Mike Tannenbaum did an awful job keeping New York's old and expensive roster together for too long. He's also responsible for signing former starting quarterback Mark Sanchez to a $58.25 million extension in March. Both of these things could cost Tannenbaum his job.
But Tannenbaum has a lot of pull within the organization and is respected. He might stick around in an advisory role while someone else gets the final call on roster decisions. New York will be hard pressed to find a top GM candidate if Tannenbaum is still in the building. But the Jets will explore various options after the season.
3. Bye, bye Tebow
This decision should be made already. The New York Jets are expected to release or trade popular backup quarterback Tim Tebow. The Jets need to do it sooner rather than later.
Tebow reportedly will land with his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars, where he will help sell tickets and perhaps compete for a starting role. Tebow never got that same opportunity in New York, and things got progressively worse as the season went on. It is time for both sides to part ways.
4. Who stays and who goes in Miami?
The Miami Dolphins have a lot of cap room, but also a lot of in-house free agents. General manager Jeff Ireland must decide which players he wants to keep and which Dolphins will hit the market.
Miami's lengthy and expensive free-agent list includes starting left tackle Jake Long, No. 1 receiver Brian Hartline, leading rusher Reggie Bush, No. 1 cornerback Sean Smith and starting defensive tackle Randy Starks. All of these players will be expensive, and the Dolphins cannot afford to bring back everyone. Picking the right players to re-sign will be important to Miami's long-term future.