AFC East OTA Review: Jets shrug off injuries while division gears for competitive 2023 season

Jets AFC East review
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) hangs onto the ball on his touchdown catch against New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones (31) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The AFC East was one of the toughest divisions in football last season with three teams finishing over .500 and two making the postseason. While the Jets were in a disappointing last place to end the year, their work to improve the roster has already taken shape as OTAs go into their final week. 

Every team in the division has had workouts during voluntary OTAs and each has had something to keep an eye on as workouts continue to progress. With the NFL “dead period” coming up in just a few weeks, it’s time to take a look at how the rest of the division is doing before everyone goes on break. 

Let’s get to it.

Buffalo Bills – Free Agency isn’t done yet

Buffalo has been the class of the division since Tom Brady left and for good reason. Josh Allen and the Bills have won the division for the last three straight years and continue to house some of the most talented players in football. The Bills have also been pretty busy during this OTA period as well outside of just workouts (which Stefon Diggs has not attended).

Ed Oliver, one of the top defensive players for the Bills over the last few years has signed a long-term deal which adds further fuel to the fire for the Jets and their own defensive tackle. Oliver’s four-year contract extension valued up to $68 million makes him handsomely paid as one of the best run defenders in football. It wasn’t the only move Buffalo made though for their defensive line. 

Just today, the team signed pass rush dynamo Leonard Floyd to add more depth to a group that already consists of stars like Von Miller and Shaq Lawson. The recent moves have helped show why Buffalo is still considered a division favorite, even if the Jets and Dolphins have made up ground. 

But keep an eye on that Diggs situation – something seems to be going on there. 

Miami Dolphins – Tua at 100%

Miami may have a roster filled with talent from top to bottom but that roster isn’t going anywhere if Tua Tagovailoa isn’t healthy. The recent run of concussions the former Alabama quarterback received has left the very real possibility that he is just one hit away from having to retire early.

That being said, Jeremy Fowler and Bleacher Report recently said that the quarterback is 100% healthy and is learning Jiu-Jitsu so he can learn how to fall forward and protect his head from oncoming contact. The Dolphins have gone so far as to support Tua by using the Jiu-Jitsu drills as a part of the quarterback’s workout in practices. 

It would make a lot of sense since the Dolphins had to play a playoff game with a third-string quarterback. 

New England Patriots – New confidence for Mac Jones?

Mac Jones has a new offensive coordinator so all must be right in New England for Bill Belichick, right? Bill O’Brien is back in the NFL as an offensive coordinator and there has reportedly been a stark difference in how Jones has looked so far through voluntary workouts. 

While Belichick pretty much defended Joe Judge as well and made sure he would have a role on the 2023 staff, the main winner so far during these practices has been O’Brien. He’s looked to have been given free rein to run his offense at will and his voice has been the loudest at Foxborough.

New York Jets – Injury scares take away from looming contract decisions 

All eyes are on the Jets players who have not participated due to a contract dispute, or an injury. All-Pro defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is not with the team through the voluntary periods as he looks for a new deal and with Oliver’s recent extension, there’s reason for him to be frustrated. 

Williams is one of the best defensive players in the league and the Jets need to make sure they keep players like this instead of letting them walk. Of course, Williams has not been the only player to not be at OTAs…sort of. 

Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been able to take part in major points of practice recently due to a calf strain. While it isn’t serious, the four-time NFL MVP not being able to actually participate in drills shows the very real threat the Jets have if they can’t get everyone healthy at the same time. 

It’s certainly something people would need to keep an eye on during minicamp. 

For more New York Jets news, turn to AMNY.com