AFC East Check-In: Playoff losses leave even playing field for Jets to improve on 7-10 mark

AFC East postseason check-in
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) sets up to pass during fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022 in Orchard Park, N.Y. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)
AP Photos

Every team in the AFC East has been eliminated from Super Bowl contention following the Bills’ loss to Cincinnati on Sunday. 

Since Tom Brady left New England in 2019, the AFC Eastern division has not had a Super Bowl-winning team to claim and instead has dealt with difficult playoff heartbreaks and rebuilds. 

For the New York Jets, last season’s 7-10 mark was a step above the three-and-four-win seasons of years past. It means the same Jets squad that has been the AFC East punching bag over the last few years could be turning the corner and evening the playing field with the rest of their divisional foes. 

New York hasn’t stayed out of the news as they search for an offensive coordinator, but neither has the rest of the division either. 

Let’s recap some of the bigger news surrounding the rest of the AFC East. 

Buffalo Bills – Playoff losses bring doubt to current playoff window

Another season, and more playoff heartbreak for the Buffalo Bills. Josh Allen and the club were utterly dominated by the Bengals at home in the snow and have allowed doubt to creep in on their current title window. 

Allen and the Bills have now lost three straight seasons in the playoff to Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow. Allen may be a top-five quarterback in the game today, but if he can’t knock off the others in his conference, it’ll seriously damage his legacy as he gets older. 

Buffalo has major needs across the roster going into the 2023 off-season. They need a second receiver opposite Stefon Diggs and they need to generate more of a pass rush. There isn’t a lot of cap space to be had, and the team hasn’t drafted a pro bowler in four seasons. 

But as long as the team has Josh Allen, the Bills should be considered contenders. The gap between them and the rest of the division though has certainly decreased. 

Miami Dolphins – Defensive Coordinator Search stays quiet

Josh Boyer is gone and a disappointing defensive effort all season ends with Miami looking for a new leader on the other side of the ball. 

Sean Desai and Anthony Campanile are just two of the clear names to be in the running for the job. The Dolphins barely made the playoffs last season but were a tough out when they eventually got there. Buffalo needed all the time and a clock management mistake by Miami to pull it out. 

The talent is unquestioned in south Florida. Tua has shown the ability to be able to perform at a high level when healthy and there are plenty of weapons along the offensive and defensive lines. 

Miami just needs to stay healthy. They could have challenged Buffalo for the division crown had it not been for Tua missing multiple weeks, and the end of the season with several concussions. If the new defensive coordinator can get the most out of the talent that is there and Tua stays healthy, Miami could absolutely challenge for the AFC East crown. 

New England Patriots – Bill O’Brien is back, will a receiver follow?

Numbers aside, an argument can be made that the Patriot’s offense was a bigger disaster than the New York Jets this year in the AFC East. Matt Patricia, a defensive coordinator, was in charge of calling offensive plays and he looked like a guy whose never been around the offensive side of the football. 

Enter Bill O’Brien. O’Brien may have had a disappointing end to his time in Alabama, but he’s had great success with a multitude of quarterbacks and brings an experienced offensive mind to pair with Mac Jones. I think it’s fair to assume the Patriots will be better this year because of the coaching change alone. 

Getting a veteran quarterback for the Jets will help in those matchups against New England as well. 

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