The Bad (and Good!) of the AFC East | NFL Deep Dive

Patriots' reign of terror is over; can Belichick turn it around? The Bills are looking for another run. How far can Tua take the Dolphins? And the Jets' new O-line.
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Chapter 3 of the Division Preview Octology has arrived, as Jenny Vrentas, Conor Orr and Gary Gramling break down all things AFC East.

Bill Belichick has his handpicked QB and some old friends on the defensive side of the ball as the Patriots' redemption tour gets underway; how good they can be, and a much-needed reset of the draft-season narrative on Mac Jones. Plus, Brian Daboll looks for a repeat performance with Josh Allen while Greg Rousseau brings a fascinating piece to Buffalo's defense, the Dolphins brought in some new kinds of weapons for Tua Tagovailoa, and everything you want to know and more about the Jets' offensive line (now featuring Morgan Moses!).

Plus, more incremental improvement from Conor on the latest edition of Mad Libs, and sorting out just which of these teams should be thinking Super Bowl contention, playoff contention or neither.

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Bills starting quarterback Josh Allen during mandatory mini camp. Jg 061521 Allen 1

The following transcript is an excerpt from The MMQB NFL podcast. Listen to the full episode on podcast players everywhere or on

Conor Orr: I think this is the first offseason where there are some pretty legitimate anti-Belichick takes. I think Paul Finebaum was the one who said the other day that he's past his prime. All he's going to do now is draft Alabama players, and he's asleep at the wheel and all that stuff. And I think everybody else is sort of picking and choosing the way that they're going to take their shots at him. I do think that there's a sentiment that, now that Tom Brady has won the Super Bowl elsewhere, that he was the engine that drove this entire thing, and that Belichick is going to be unable to do it without him. There's that sense where his teams weren't that good in Cleveland and then they weren't that good until Tom Brady got here. And so, you know, X plus Y equals Z. And I think that couldn't be further from the truth. 

To Jenny's point earlier, did we really think that Belichick is not thinking about where defenses are going 10 years from now? Or where offenses are going 10 years from now when he drafted Mac Jones? Of course he has. I mean this guy literally in his spare time is hanging out with military black ops people to find out how they sleep, to get his players to sleep better. This guy has thought of everything. And I think that he's an incredible head coach; he's the best head coach in modern NFL history. And we get a chance to see him rebuild from scratch. I love the fact that he didn't retire when Brady left. I think it's fantastic. I think that a lot of these coaches chased the guy, you know, like look at Bruce Arians, his book was called The Quarterback Whisperer. But you played with Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck. So, you know, that's O.K. You know, that's a pretty decent résumé. But Bill Belichick is willing to start from the ground up again. And I think it's going to be fascinating to watch him kind of operate in this way. 

Gary Gramling: Now, I agree, but I kind of like the anti-Belichick takes just because they're completely absurd, and I think if anything, maybe it does keep him around a little bit longer. Not that I think he's scrolling through Twitter and seeing what everyone's saying about him. But I like the fact that he sort of gets that chance to reprove himself, even though he doesn't have to. I hope he thinks that. 

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