Based on the offseason movement we’ve seen to this point, what is the team to beat in the AFC East?
That was the question posed on the set of NFL Live today on ESPN, and analysts Mark Schlereth and Tim Hasselbeck shared their opinions.
They both like the Jets.
“I look at it from a standpoint of, to me, who has the best chance from a roster standpoint to control the line of scrimmage,” Schlereth said. “I look at that and say the New York Jets. Up front, they have a great offensive line. We know they can run the ball. That’s what they lived on last year. Defensively, they’re strong up front. Do they need another pass rusher? Yes, but the blitzing schemes of Rex Ryan, to me, sets them apart – but just by a very, very slim margin when you’re talking Tom Brady and what the Miami Dolphins have done.”
“I agree with you on the Jets,” Hasselbeck said to Schlereth. “The big part is the guys up front, but also what they were able to do on the defensive side of the ball, then bringing in someone like [Antonio] Cromartie, who will complement [Darrelle] Revis. You also have to look at the rest of the division. Wes Welker is most likely going to miss the start to the season. Tom Brady isn’t necessarily the same guy when Wes Welker isn’t in the lineup. Randy Moss, at times, looked old this past season. You look at the defensive side of the ball, and it’s very hard to forget that game against the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. You look at it that way, and you still consider all the moves the Miami Dolphins made, I still think the Jets would be the team to beat in the AFC East.”
The discussion then turned to the quarterbacks on each team.
Schlereth made the point that the Jets and Dolphins have two young signal-callers in Mark Sanchez and Chad Henne, respectively. He then said that “Tom Brady is Tom Brady”, which could ultimately sway things in the direction of New England.
The quarterback factor figures to be key for New England. It’s the most important position on the field, and that’s where the Patriots currently have the edge.
That’s why the development of Sanchez and Henne might be the most important training camp storyline in the AFC East.