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AFC East Analysis

The AFC east is one of the NFL’s toughest divisions. The super bowl winning New England Patriots never looked back after their week 4 loss at Washington and went on to win their final 12 games of the regular season on route to their super bowl victory. None of the AFC East teams had an offense that finished ranked higher than 15 in total offense. Buffalo, New England and Miami all finished ranked in the top ten in total defense. Interestingly Buffalo, Miami, and New York upgraded the WR position, Buffalo with Lee Evans, Miami added David Boston, New York traded for Justin McCareins. New England upgraded the RB position before the draft by trading for Corey Dillon. Buffalo, Miami and the Jets have upgraded their teams but New England still appears to be the top team in the division.

Buffalo Bills (2003 Record: 10- 6)

The Bills were ranked 30th in total offense last season. QB Drew Bledsoe had

One of his worst seasons as a pro completing only 11 TD passes while throwing 12 picks. The defense finished ranked second in total defensive what but what hurt this team were the turnovers. The defense managed 18 takeaways, but the offense gave away the ball 34 times.

Added
DT Oliver Gibson (Bengals)
LB Jason Gildon (Steelers)
OG Chris Villarrial (Bears)
CB Troy Vincent (Eagles)

Lost
OG Ruben Brown (Bears)
TE Dave Moore (Bucs)
CB Antoine Winfield (Vikings)
RB Sammy Morris (Dolphins)
FB Sam Gash (Saints)

Draft
Rd Sel# Player Pos. School
1 13 Evans, Lee WR Wisconsin
1 22 Losman, J.P. QB Tulane
3 74 Anderson, Tim DT Ohio State
4 109 Euhus, Tim TE Oregon State
7 207 McFarland, Dylan OT Montana
7 214 Smith, Jonathan Freddie, WR Georgia Tech

Overall Outlook
New head coach Mike Murlarkey has upgraded the offense. The Bills should be improved over their 6-10 finish last season. New offensive coordinator Tom Clements and the addition of speedy WR Lee Evans should improve the passing game. In addition RB Willis McGahee will see some action behind Travis Henry. Cornerback Troy Vincent replaces Antoine Winfield. In order to keep pace in the division the Bill’s can’t falter like last season when they lost 7 of their last 9 games.

 

Miami Dolphins (2003 Record: 10- 6)

The Dolphins had strange off season; former QB Dan Marino became president of the organization then resigned. Joel Collier was replaced as offensive coordinator when the job was given to Chris Foerster. This past weekend the retirement of Ricky Williams leaves the team without their best offensive weapon. Miami traded a second round draft pick for former Eagle’s QB A.J Feeley when more seasoned free agents would have been available after being released. Defensively Miami finshed last season ranked 10th in total defense. Offensivley the team’s passing game struggled last season with QB Jay Feidler missing 5 games due to injury.

Added
S Chris Akins (Patriots)
WR David Boston (Chargers)
CB Reggie Howard (Panthers)
QB A.J. Feeley (Eagles)
S Antuan Edwards (Packers)
OG Jeno James (Panthers)
TE John Jones (Ravens)
OT Damion McIntosh (Chargers)
RB Sammy Morris (Bills)
OT John St. Clair (Rams)
WR Terrence Wilkins (Colts)

Lost
FB Obafemi Ayanbadejo (Cardinals)
OT Mark Dixon (released)
CB Jamar Fletcher (Chargers)
S Trent Gamble (released)
LS Jeff Grau (released)
QB Brian Griese (Bucs)
S Brock Marion (Lions)
WR James McKnight (Giants)
G Todd Perry (released)
C Tim Ruddy (released)
RT Todd Wade (Texans)
DT Davern Williams (released)
RB Ricky Williams (retired)

Draft
Rd Sel# Player Pos. School
1 21 Wilfork, Vince DT Miami (Fla.)
1 32 Watson, Ben TE Georgia
2 63 Hill, Marquise DE Louisiana State
3 95 Scott, Guss SS Florida
4 113 Reid, Dexter FS North Carolina
4 128 Cobbs, Cedric RB Arkansas
5 164 Sam, P.K. WR Florida State
7 233 Morton, Christian CB Illinois

Overall Outlook
This past weekends decision by RB Ricky Williams to retire leaves the Dolphins in quite a bind. The immediate replacement RB Travis Minor has never started an NFL game. Also in the mix for the starting RB job are Leonard Henry, fullback Sammy Morris and rookies Renaldo Works and Fred Russell. The Dolphins will also be looking to add more RB depth through a trade or by acquiring former starters James Stewart and Stacey Mack. Another question mark surrounding this team is who will be the staring Quarterback. AJ Feely struggled in the early training camp picking up the offensive system. QB Jay Fiedler seems to have the early edge due to his knowledge of the system and personnel, but this battle may not be decided until the final preseason game. The starting QB and RB will be playing behind a rebuilt offensive line, which may not be as good as last season’s. The addition of WR David Boston should give the Dolphins a number two WR that they have been lacking the past few seasons. In addition Boston will be reunited with his former WR coach from Arizona Jerry Sullivan. The Dolphin’s have had one of the better defenses for a while, this year they enter the season with LB Zach Thomas missing some of training camp recovering from recent knee surgery. If defensive end Adewale Ogunleye holds out for an extended length of time with his contract dispute, it will create a big hole in the defensive line.

 

New England Patriots (2003 Record: 14-2)

New England’s defense finished the regular season ranked 7th in total defense. Before the playoffs they had an 8-0 record at home vs opposing teams and posted 3 shut outs. On top that they finished out the season plus 17 in turnovers, the only team that was better was KC with plus 19. The Patriots traded for RB Corey Dillon prior to the start of 2004 NFL Draft this will improve their running game which finished out the regular season ranked 27th.

Added
DE Rodney Bailey (Steelers)
CB Terrell Buckley (Dolphins)
CB Jeff Burris (Bengals)
RB Corey Dillon (Bengals)
OL Bob Hallen (Chargers)
QB Kurt Kittner (Falcons)
QB Jim Miller (free agent)
P Josh Miller (Steelers)
DT Keith Traylor (Bears)

Lost
S Chris Akins (Dolphins)
TE Fred Baxter (Redskins)
OL Mike Compton (Jaguars)
QB Damon Huard (Chiefs)
CB Otis Smith (released)
WR Dedric Ward (Cowboys)
DT Ted Washington (Raiders)
OL Damien Woody (Lions)

Draft
Rd Sel# Player Pos. School
1 21 Wilfork, Vince DT Miami (Fla.)
1 32 Watson, Ben TE Georgia
2 63 Hill, Marquise DE Louisiana State
3 95 Scott, Guss SS Florida
4 113 Reid, Dexter FS North Carolina
4 128 Cobbs, Cedric RB Arkansas
5 164 Sam, P.K. WR Florida State
7 233 Morton, Christian CB Ill

Overall Outlook
Although New England did lose Ted Washington to the Raiders, he did miss 6 games last season due to injury. To fill the void NE Added his former Chicago teammate Keith Traylor and drafted
defensive tackle Vince Wilfork Miami (Fla.) for the long term. LB Rosevelt Colvin returns from injury but has been placed on the PUP list before the start of the season. On the offensive line NE lost Damien Woody, to Detroit, but Ross Hochstein, filled in nicely for Woody during the playoffs and the Super Bowl. The big question surrounding this team will be who will backup QB Tom Brady. Currently Jim Miller who last played for Chicago in 2002, former Atlanta QB Kurt Kittner, NFL Europe offensive MVP Rohan Davey, and Kliff Kingsbury who spent 2003 on injured reserve are in the competition for the No. 2 job. The addition of RB Corey Dillon will be a huge improvement over Antowain Smith and will open the offense for Brady. Getting back to the Super Bowl will be tough challenge, but the Patriots definitely have the depth and personnel to do it.

New York Jets (2003 Record: 6-10)

The Jets finished ranked 20th in total defense last season, and much lower than their AFC East division foes. Offensively this team struggled when they lost QB Chad Pennington in the preseason, and never recovered from their bad start.

Curtis Martin rushed for over 1300 yards but managed just 2 rushing TD’s.

The Jet’s finished even in turnovers where they had 20 takeaways but just as many giveaways.

Added
CB David Barrett (Cardinals)
LB Eric Barton (Raiders)
P Toby Gowin (Cowboys)
TE Mikhael Ricks (Lions)
SS Reggie Tongue (Seahawks)

Lost
CB Aaron Beasley (released)
S Tyrone Carter (Vikings)
WR Curtis Conway (released)
S Sam Garnes (released)
LB Marvin Jones (released)
LB Mo Lewis (released)
WR Kevin Swayne (Redskins)
IG Dave Szott (retired)
QB Vinny Testaverde (Cowboys)

Draft
Rd Sel# Player Pos. School
1 12 Vilma, Jonathan ILB Miami (Fla.)
3 76 Strait, Derrick CB Oklahoma
4 108 Cotchery, Jerricho WR North Carolina State
4 132 Jones, Adrian OT Kansas
5 143 Coleman, Erik FS Washington State
6 178 Cavka, Marko OT Sacramento State
7 213 McClover, Darrell OLB Miami (Fla.)
7 234 Johnson, Trevor DE Nebraska
7 235 Ward, Derrick RB Ottawa
7 236 Washington, Rashad SS Kansas State

Overall Outlook
The Jets were terrible last season in the division winning 1 game and losing 5. That should change this year as they have improved offensively and defensively. The key to the offense will be keeping starting QB Chad Pennington healthy. Behind him on the depth chart is unproven Brooks Bollinger. The WR tandem of Justin McCareins and Santa Moss should open up the offense. The LB corps has been revamped with the additions of Eric Barton and rookie Jonathan Vilma. New York should improve upon last year’s 6-10 finish.

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