Tuesday, January 26, 2021

AFC East Watch Week 3: Bills show class

As painful watching as it has been at times the AFC East Watch is starting to look like more competitive viewing once again as the Bills have shown a marked improvement on last season, and the Patriots look more vulnerable post Tom Brady.

The Dolphins had a good week 3 against the Jaguars, but that may not be the best of bench-marks as we continue our grind through a brutal first half schedule. The Jets, under the much hated Adam Gase continue to look a bit of a shambles, but is there hope on the horizon for them? Let’s take a look.

AFC East Watch: Buffalo Bills(3-0)

BILLS 35-32 RAMS

The Bills got off to a flyer as they hosted the Rams on Sunday. Up 28-3 at the half way point of the third quarter the Bills looked to be cruising. But then an interception, a three and out, and a fumble saw the Rams score four, yes FOUR unanswered touchdowns to take a 31-28 lead.

Now I’ve long been a critic of Josh Allen and his inability to maintain a consistent level of accuracy. 6/9 for 82 yards and the game winning touchdown to Tyler Kroft. There were still glimpses of the erratic, but they are becoming much rarer these days.

The defense that had looked so elite against the Jets and Dolphins looked more human in this one. Giving up 478 yards and four touchdowns. But the second half collapse was as much about the offensive capitulation as their inability to make plays.

AFC East Watch: Has Josh Allen found consistency on his accuracy at last?
AFC East Watch: Has Josh Allen found consistency on his accuracy at last?

Having made the playoffs last year the Bills already look to be on their way again this season. The division title is theirs for the taking if they keep playing like this. Though that Defense still has something to prove, and Josh Allen needs to show he can be this accurate for more than three games.

New England Patriots(2-1)

PATRIOTS 36-20 RAIDERS

The Raiders game to Foxboro looking to finally lay waste to the hoodoo that has befallen them since the dreaded tuck-rule game. They played the Patriots really close, probably closer than a lot of people were expecting after the Pats second half against the Seahawks.

Leading 23-10 in the fourth the Pats saw the Raiders drop an easy TD and settle for a FG to keep the lead at two scores. Things then looked very Patriot-esque, as they marched 86 yards in 10-plays eating up 6:05 to nail the game at 29-13. Derek Carr fumbled in the end zone on the next play for the Raiders handing the Pats an easy seven, and a 36-13 lead.

AFC East Watch: Cam adds dynamism to the Patriots offense but they're not all on the same page yet
AFC East Watch: Cam adds dynamism to the Patriots offense but they’re not all on the same page yet

But these are your dominant Patriots any more as the Raiders showed by going 75 yards in 3:15 to score a consolation touchdown. The Patriots look vulnerable this year, not just on offense where Cam Newton is nowhere near as secure with the ball as Tom Brady was. The offense will likely come together to be more potent, but the defense has looked less than elite so far.

The Patriots are far from slick, but they usually get better as the season goes on. The Raiders are an up and coming team and they played the Pats basically level for the first half. Adjustments are well Belichick shines and you can still see the Pats are a class act. But they may not be the best in the AFC East any more.

Miami Dolphins(2-1)

JAGUARS 13-31 DOLPHINS

The Dolphins finally dropped their 0 with a comfortable wire-to-wire win over the Jags. There was no Minshew-Mania to speak of, and Ryan Fitzpatrick once again had one of his ‘ON’ games that always make us competitive. With a comfortable lead at the half, the offense went into it’s shell second half, but still won that phase 10-6.

There was finally more dynamism on the defense as the corners played softer, keeping the Jags already short passing game in-front of them and limited the big plays, with just one play over 20 yards. It was a massive improvement from the defense, and rookie Noah Igbinoghene in particular bouncing back in impressive fashion.

And finally there was a pass-rush with 4 sacks and 10 QB hits, and two turnovers. There was a lot to feel positive about on the night. But don’t get too carried away as this was against the Jaguars. For the second most expensive defensive unit in the league, the Dolphins should be looking dominant agains Jacksonville.

AFC East Watch: Fitz is just having fun
AFC East Watch: Fitz is just having fun

Offensively it was all good. Rookie guard Solomon Kindley is starting to look like a beast on the pass block, and Austin Jackson is developing nicely at the hardest spot on the line. And Flowers has been as advertised at LG. Other than that things are mostly as they were last season.

Myles Gaskin got more carries this week in the comfortable win, but saw his stats swindle with 20-66. He has been a bright spark at the running back position that has once again seemed lacklustre despite spending on players who can’t see the field.

We won’t really know what we have going forward until we see the new pieces like Malcolm Perry, Lynn Bowden Jr, and dare I say, Tua Tagovailoa. But listening to coaches it seems we won’t see them for many weeks yet. Which is fine as the line gels, but sooner or later you need to see some progress and something for the future.

New York Jets(0-3)

Colts 36-7 Jets

Adam Gase continues to throttle quarterback development wherever he goes. First there was Ryan Tannehill, and now Sam Darnold. Darnold made an absolute baller play to tie this game at seven in the first, but other than that he mostly looks scared and confused.

He holds the ball too long, makes horrendous reads, and even more horrendous throws. As things stand unless there is a massive improvement the Jets will be in the hunt to select Trevor Lawrence with the number one pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

But I’m not even sure that would help this Jets team. The issue is really with the schemes Gase calls. He likes to run the ball, but that means you have to try and take the top of the defense more, but his routes are mostly over the middle. The same happened in Miami where he nearly destroyed the career of DeVante Parker by taking away that long ball.

AFC East Watch: I'm not saying the Jets are a train wreck...oh wait, yes, yes I am
AFC East Watch: I’m not saying the Jets are a train wreck…oh wait, yes, yes I am

There were some signs second half of some longer players opening up, but then we see Darnold regressing and making very poor reads. With neither an elite offense, or defense, or any individual player that could make that claim, the Jets look destined to wallow in the basement for at least one more season.

It’s hard to see Adam Gase making it to the draft with the Jets still as his employer.

AFC East Watch Week 4 schedule

Thursday 8:20pm EST
Jets vs. Broncos
Sunday 6pm EST
Dolphins vs. Seahawks
Sunday 9:25pm EST
Raiders vs. Bills
Chiefs vs. Patriots

Join us next week as we go again on another AFC East Watch.

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