AFC East Q&A: Are Jets a QB away from being a Super Bowl contender?

Today's question: Are the New York Jets a legitimate quarterback away from being a Super Bowl contender?

James Walker, Miami Dolphins reporter: How legit? Are the Jets a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers away from being a Super Bowl contender? Yes. Are they a Ryan Fitzpatrick or Ryan Tannehill away from the Super Bowl? Absolutely not. The Jets have nice pieces, especially on defense. But let's not get too excited. This team is in the "playoff conversation," not the "Super Bowl conversation." There is a difference. In fact, I view the Jets as a prime candidate to take a step back from their 10-win season of a year ago. A lot of things went right for New York, including Fitzpatrick having a career year. I don't see the Jets getting double-digit wins and that same level of production out of their quarterback in 2016, regardless if Fitzpatrick is under center.

Mike Reiss, New England Patriots reporter: Count me as an early believer in Todd Bowles as a head coach, and if he continues to grow in the role, why wouldn't the Jets be a Super Bowl contender with a legitimate quarterback? I watched the Jets play the Patriots extremely tough two times in 2015, splitting games with them, and then they had a playoff berth in their grasp if they won at Buffalo in Week 17. It obviously didn't work out, and feel free to throw a penalty flag on me for excessive optimism, but if you subscribe to the theory that the idea is to make the playoffs and then anything can happen (e.g., Jets in 2010), this team isn't far away.

Mike Rodak, Buffalo Bills reporter: No, I think we can cool the, um, Jets on that talk. Like Mike, I've been impressed with Bowles as a head coach and I think the Jets' defense was underrated last season -- and perhaps as good or better than Rex Ryan's best work in New York. But in my three years covering the Bills, I've watched mediocre Ryan- and Doug Marrone-coached teams walk right over the Jets, who have a 1-5 record against the Bills since 2013. The talent across the Jets' roster has improved over the past few years, but it's not at the level where I think a quarterback would put them in serious Super Bowl contention, especially on offense. Also, let's not forget that the Jets' biggest obstacle to reaching the Super Bowl will be the Patriots, who have reached the AFC Championship Game in the past five seasons and haven't showed signs of slowing down.