With Tom Brady out of the AFC East, the quarterback having left the New England Patriots this offseason, the top player in the division will invariably change. And there is some chatter that, after two decades in the wilderness, the best player in the AFC East is on the New York Jets roster.
That player? Not All-Pro safety Jamal Adams. According to Pro Football Focus, the best player in the division is Sam Darnold.
George Chahrouri of PFF was asked this week who the most valuable player in the AFC East is going to be in 2020. Before launching into his decision, Chahrouri discussed the impact of Tua Tagovailoa, the Miami Dolphins first round pick out of Alabama. Tagovailoa is considered the franchise quarterback of the future for Miami, having a storied career at Alabama that includes a national championship and winning the Maxwell Award from the Maxwell Football Club as the nation’s top player.
But Chahrouri thinks it is another quarterback who is already established as the franchise’s future that is the most important player in the AFC East this upcoming season.
“Man, that’s hard to predict. Tua might be the best player in that spot but I think the most important player in the AFC East if you look at the next 12 months is going to be Sam Darnold. If Sam Darnold performs as the Jets expect a third overall pick to perform, that changes the complexion of the division substantially,” Chahrouri said.
“So to me, maybe the most valuable player is Tua but the most important player is Sam Darnold.”
It was a rough start to the 2019 season for Darnold, who missed three games following a Week 1 diagnosis of mononucleosis. The Jets struggled to a 1-7 start, rebounding to finish 7-9 as Darnold cut back on turnovers and grew increasingly comfortable in head coach Adam Gase’s offense.
As such, he saw an improvement over his rookie season in 2018. Last year, Darnold threw for more yards, had a higher completion percentage and improved his touchdown: interception ratio. All promising signs.
Despite the promise of Darnold, it is hard to bet against the Buffalo Bills right now.
In quarterback Josh Allen, also taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft like Darnold, the Bills have a young quarterback who led the team to the playoffs last year. Darnold may end up developing and moving beyond Allen at some point but it is hard to argue that the Bills don’t have a promising quarterback under center right now with elite arm strength and a playoff-ready team.
In addition to Tagovailoa and Allen, the most valuable player in the AFC East might be the aforementioned Adams, who developed into a true playmaker at safety last year and might be the best at his position in the NFL.