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  • The Jets seem to have found a quarterback (maybe even more than one), the Bills seemed to make moves with an eye on the future, the Dolphins seem to want a culture change and, dare we say, the Patriots seem to have lost more than they gained
By Albert Breer
June 08, 2018

BUFFALO BILLS

2017 record: 9-7
Crucial veteran additions: QB AJ McCarron, RB Chris Ivory, DE Trent Murphy, DT Star Lotulelei, CB Vontae Davis, C Russell Bodine
Crucial veteran losses: QB Tyrod Taylor, OT Cordy Glenn, OG Richie Incognito, C Eric Wood, LB Preston Brown, WR Jordan Matthews, CB E.J. Gaines
2018 draft class and grades

What improved?

Whether the quarterback position improves in 2018—AJ McCarron wasn’t bad in spot duty in Cincinnati—is an open question. The hope is that by 2020 or so, it’ll be a lot better, with the trade up for the raw, but freakishly talented Josh Allen. And the front seven stands to improve too, with Trent Murphy, Star Lotulelei and first-round pick Tremaine Edmunds adding some bulk and athleticism to the mix.

What needs work?

There’s no doubt the offensive line remains a major question mark. Part of trading Cordy Glenn was that the team liked what it saw from 2017 second-round pick Dion Dawkins at left tackle last year, but the interior spots remain an area of concern. And the Bills also wouldn’t mind a little more production at receiver, which they hope Kelvin Benjamin can give them, given a full offseason with the club.

What can we expect?

Some young quarterbacks get a mentor in Year 1. Allen will get a battle from the competitive McCarron, who won’t let his shot slip by without a fight. And elsewhere, there’s been an expectation that this will be a developmental year after last year’s flourish under new coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane—with the roster getting younger and key positions retooled.

Fact/tidbit/piece of news learned from OTAs/minicamp: Allen is going to have earn his keep—he’s working with the third team right now, with McCarron and Nathan Peterman splitting the first-team reps. And Zay Jones, who showed promise last year but has had a rough offseason, underwent knee surgery.

Best offseason tweet from a team’s player or coach:

Letter grade: B-minus. There are probably going to be short-term bumps, but that’s by design to some degree, and it’s hard not to like what Beane and McDermott did in Year 1. And so they get the benefit of the doubt as they kick their rebuilding project into high gear.


MIAMI DOLPHINS

2017 record: 6-10
Crucial veteran additions: WR Danny Amendola, WR Albert Wilson, RB Frank Gore, OG Josh Sitton, C Daniel Kilgore, DE Robert Quinn, DT Akeem Spence
Crucial veteran losses: WR Jarvis Landry, TE Julius Thomas, C Mike Pouncey, DT Ndamukong Suh, LB Lawrence Timmons
2018 draft class and grades

What improved?

The atmosphere. Miami’s brass felt like an individualistic culture in 2017 made it difficult for the team to deal with the adversity (Ryan Tannehill’s injury, O-line coach Chris Foerster’s adventure, Hurricane Irma) it faced early last year, and so the idea this offseason was to prioritize finding leaders. The Dolphins feel like, with guys like Frank Gore, Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola coming in, that’s been accomplished. And getting Tannehill in, after much speculation that his replacement would be drafted, is a plus.

What needs work?

It would be great if rookie safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and sophomore LB Raekwon McMillan, who missed his rookie year with a torn ACL, could be instant-impact guys at need spots. And the offseason overhaul of an offensive line that struggled last year bears watching.

What can we expect?

Pressure on Tannehill on perform in his third year under Adam Gase, based on Miami’s flirtation with the quarterbacks in the draft class. And pressure on everyone to show the promise they did in 2016 again. The performance of a defensive line losing Ndamukong Suh, but adding Robert Quinn and Akeem Spence and bringing back 2017 first-round pick Charles Harris, will be key.

Fact/tidbit/piece of news learned from OTAs/minicamp: There’s more buzz that Gase will finally be able to weaponize tempo in his offense like he and Peyton Manning once did in Denver, which is a good sign for how all the new pieces are fitting together.

Best offseason tweet from a team’s player or coach:

 

 

Letter grade: B-minus. Quinn has to stay healthy, and Daniel Kilgore has to prove he can perform close to how Mike Pouncey was. But the idea was to improve the culture overall, and that’s been accomplished. We’ll see if it’s enough to make up for the losses of Suh and Jarvis Landry.


NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

2017 record: 13-3
Crucial veteran additions: OT Trent Brown, DE Adrian Clayborn, DT Danny Shelton, CB Jason McCourty, RB Jeremy Hill
Crucial veteran losses: WR Brandin Cooks, WR Danny Amendola, RB Dion Lewis, OT Nate Solder, CB Malcolm Butler, TE Martellus Bennett
2018 draft class and grades

What improved?

On paper, it’s hard to say. First-round pick Sony Michel and Jeremy Hill could make the running back position better, even with Dion Lewis departing. Stephon Gilmore looks comfortable coming back for a second year in Foxboro, so the secondary could be better. And if Dont’a Hightower can stay healthy, the situation at linebacker would be much better. Getting Julian Edelman healthy helps, too, even if he is forced to sit the first four games. This wasn’t the splashy offseason last year was for the Patriots, so much of the improvement will have to be internal.

What needs work?

Keeping Chris Hogan and Edelman healthy would make the receiver attrition workable. The offensive line is another story, where Trent Brown, first-rounder Isaiah Wynn and LaAdrian Waddle will vie to replace Nate Solder at what’s been the second-most stable position on the roster over the Belichick Era. And a defense that started slow last year and collapsed in the Super Bowl has plenty of room for improvement under Matt Patricia replacement Brian Flores (who doesn’t have the defensive coordinator title yet but is running meetings and will have the duties in the fall).

What can we expect?

A lot of speculation over where Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski’s relationship with Bill Belichick is, and how Brady’s body coach, Alex Guerrero, plays into all of that. And since Belichick is 66 and Brady will be 41 on opening day, the future of both will continue to be a topic of conversation—probably all the way to the team’s eighth straight conference title game.

Fact/tidbit /piece of news learned from OTAs/minicamp: Based on minicamp, Brady and Gronkowski haven’t lost a step. Each looked like the guys who have played their positions at a level higher than anyone ever has.

Best offseason tweet from a player or coach:

Letter grade: B-minus. There’s a benefit of the doubt element to this. On paper, losing Solder, Lewis, Danny Amendola, Brandin Cooks and Malcolm Butler looks pretty bad. But this isn’t Belichick’s first rodeo when it comes to high-profile departures.


NEW YORK JETS

2017 record: 5-11
Crucial veteran additions: QB Teddy Bridgewater, WR Terrelle Pryor, C Spencer Long, LB Avery Williamson, CB Trumaine Johnson, RB Isaiah Crowell
Crucial veteran losses: RB Matt Forte, TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, DT Muhammad Wilkerson, LB Demario Davis, K Chandler Catanzaro
2018 draft class and grades

What improved?

The quarterback position, they hope. The Jets had horseshoes in funny places when Sam Darnold fell to 3, and this offseason was always going to be about whatever quarterback they drafted. Teddy Bridgewater has looked great in the spring, too, and Josh McCown is back, so the most important position looks healthy. The receiver group should get better behind the returning Quincy Enunwa, ascending Chad Hansen and Terrelle Pryor. And a defense built around safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, LB Darron Lee and DT Leonard Williams is young and promising.

What needs work?

The offensive line remains a question mark, even with Spencer Long coming in. The passing game still lacks a bona fide No. 1 receiver, and new coordinator Jeremy Bates will have to pick a quarterback. Finding a way to generate edge pressure has been a question throughout Todd Bowles’ tenure. Overall, the Jets have the look of a team that’s a year away.

What can we expect?

Reasons to be excited about 2019, from Darnold’s development (I’d expect he starts at some point) to Bates’ creativity to the defense’s athleticism. This team has a nice base of young talent and will have more money to spend next March. And it didn’t have to give up next year’s first-round pick to get Darnold.

Fact/tidbit/piece of news learned from OTAs/minicamp: Adams and Maye’s confidence and swagger was evident last year, and it’s starting to rub off on others on an improving young defense. The personality profile the team has looked for in players has played in to it, too, and showed in what the free-agent class is bringing to the table. In case you’re wondering, Darnold’s progress has been steady, and he’ll have a very real chance to win a starting job over the summer.

Best offseason tweet from a team’s player or coach:

Letter grade: A-minus. It’s nice to get a couple mid-20s free agents in Avery Williamson and Trumaine Johnson, but this is all about landing Darnold, who has franchise-changing ability (even if Plan A was Kirk Cousins).

• Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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