Today's question: The New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills have missed the playoffs for five, seven, and 16 seasons straight, respectively. Are they that bad or are the New England Patriots that good?
James Walker, Miami Dolphins reporter: The quarterbacks are that bad for the Jets, Dolphins and Bills, while the Patriots' quarterback is that good. That is the clearest way to sum up the past 15 years in the AFC East. Let's go down the list of downtrodden opposing quarterbacks in that span, shall we? New York's had Geno Smith, Mark Sanchez and Brooks Bollinger. Miami's had Chad Henne, Joey Harrington and Cleo Lemon. Buffalo's had EJ Manuel, Trent Edwards and J.P. Losman. You are not beating Patriots quarterback Tom Brady consistently with these counterparts. Coaching also plays a factor, with Bill Belichick leading the way. However, it's not nearly as big a factor as New England having arguably the greatest quarterback of all time for the past 15 years and the rest of the division playing mostly with lemons (no pun intended, Cleo).
Mike Rodak, Buffalo Bills reporter: The Patriots are very good and remarkably consistent, but I think this is more of an issue with the three other AFC East opponents. I'll use the AFC North as a comparison. The Steelers have made the playoffs in seven of the past 11 seasons, including two Super Bowl appearances. Over the same span, the Ravens and Bengals have also reached the postseason seven times. So clearly, it's possible for two or three teams to have success in the same division. Quarterback play and consistency at head coach are big reasons why the AFC North has been successful. The Bengals had Carson Palmer and now Andy Dalton; the Ravens hit on their Joe Flacco pick and the Steelers have one of the NFL's best in Ben Roethlisberger. And when's the last time one of those three teams made a change at coach? In 2008. The Dolphins, Bills and Jets haven't had similar luck.
Mike Reiss, New England Patriots reporter: James and Mike covered it well. I always start with the quarterbacks. The gap between Brady and what the Bills, Dolphins and Jets have had at the position over the past decade-plus is the simple answer. Jets receiver Eric Decker seemed to agree when he recently told NFL Network that Brady's four-game suspension opens the door for others in the AFC East. Meanwhile, instability with the head coach, which usually means changing systems and the potential for affecting players' development, has been part of the reason, too.