It’s time to rank the quarterbacks that play in the AFC East. A Division that has, overall, shown us putrid QB play. The New England Patriots may have three quarterbacks on their roster better than the starters on the other three teams. Jacoby Brissett is a huge stretch, but you get what I’m saying.
This division also has a ton of question marks entering the free agency period. Buffalo still is undecided what they are doing with Tyrod Taylor‘s contract, and who knows what the hell they are doing out in New York. It’s crazy how the Giants organization has been a stalwart in the NFL and has worn the buttoned-up dress pants in The Big Apple, and the Jets ineptitude has turned them into the embarrassing skid mark on the underpants of New York City.
There could be a lot of changes on March 9, but for now, we will look at the current projected starters and rank accordingly.
1. Tom Brady – New England Patriots (6-4, 225 pounds, 39 years old)
I feel like I absolutely do not have to write anything down about “The Pharaoh” (apparently a nickname of his according to pro-football-reference), but I will just for the sake of adding diction to paper.
Touchdown Tom is a 12-time Pro Bowler, 2-time All-Pro, and his five Super Bowl victories are the most for any quarterback.
Due to the never-ending media infused “deflategate,” Brady missed the first four games of 2016, and yet, was still able to put up MVP-caliber stats. His 3,554 passing yards were more than all other AFC East QBs; his 28 touchdowns were most in the AFC East, and his 2 interceptions were the least in the NFL for a primary starting quarterback.
He finished 2016 with an 11-1 record, 67.4 completion percentage, and a Super Bowl victory. Brady may be 39, almost 40, but in that system in New England, with the “Hoodie” on the sidelines, and continued health since his last injury in 2008, there is no reason why he won’t continue his dominance in the AFC East until he decides to trade in his cleats full-time for man-UGGS and scientifically proven pajamas.
2. Ryan Tannehill – Miami Dolphins (6-4, 220 pounds, 28 years old)
Five years into Tannehill’s career and I still find myself scratching my head about how successful he will be as a quarterback in the NFL. He shows flashes of brilliance in the pocket and there is no denying his athletic ability (played receiver at Texas A&M before becoming the full-time starter at QB halfway through the 2010 season). But then he will let his athletic ability get him into trouble and make a pivotal mistake.
He has zero Pro Bowl selections but did have back-to-back 4,000+ yard seasons in 2014 and 2015. Statistically speaking, 2016 was a bit of a regression for Tannehill.
He finished with an 8-5 record, missing the final three games due to injury. His 67.1 completion percentage was the highest of his career, demonstrating his progression in making smarter throws and completing high-percentage passes. His passing yards, however, fell off dramatically. He finished with 2,995 yards coupled with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
While his stats were not eye-popping, Tannehill did finish with the first winning record of his professional career and helped lead the Dolphins to their first playoff appearance since 2008 (before being injured).
Second-year head coach Adam Gase has proven himself with quarterbacks. He was Peyton Manning‘s offensive coordinator in 2013 when Manning broke pretty much every single-season record imaginable, and in his one season as the Bears OC, coached QB Jay Cutler to a relatively successful year.
2017 will be an extremely important year for Tannehill and the Dolphins moving forward. Going into his second full season with Gase, Tannehill should have a full grasp of the offense, and therefore, should play out his full potential.
Another mediocre year, and it may be time for the Dolphins to move on and find themselves another option at quarterback.
3. Tyrod Taylor – Buffalo Bills (6-0, 221 pounds, 27 years old)
New head coach Sean McDermott has been extremely PC when asked if he is committed to Tyrod Taylor as his starting quarterback moving forward. He hasn’t said yes but hasn’t said no either. Many sources, however, expect the Bills not to pick up Taylor’s option making him a free agent come March 9.
What is most interesting to me is that it was just last season, August 12, 2016, to be exact, that the Bills gave Taylor a contract extension signifying they were happy with his play enough in 2015 to commit to him long term. And then after 2016, the team wants to cut bait and move on, he was even benched for the season finale.
Some of this obviously comes down to having a new coaching regime. A new coach usually has a new system and therefore may want new players that fit their scheme or system better.
However, strictly looking at his tape and statistics, Taylor virtually had two identical seasons in 2015 and 2016.[table id=16 /]
Now, the management and ownership that offered Taylor his extension last year are the same management that is currently in control. So what changed? While his numbers dropped slightly, there was no major regression. And this was all while the Bills fired their OC early in the season and then fired their head coach later in the season. Turmoil behind the scenes is never good for a second-year starter.
When interviewing new head coaches, I think it’s safe to say that Taylor’s name came up. So why all the uncertainty with six days remaining until free agency? What better options do the Bills have? Cardale Jones? Colin Kaepernick? Jay Cutler if he is cut or traded? They do have the 10th overall pick so maybe they go after someone in the draft, but none of these quarterbacks are a sure thing and we saw how well that worked out for them when they took EJ Manuel in the first round.
Taylor is the third-ranked quarterback in the AFC East, but he may still be the best option in Buffalo, unless Jim Kelly decides to come out of retirement.
4. Whoever Starts For The New York Jets In 2017
Man, it would be tough to be a Jets fan right now. I’ve heard Rich Eisen voice his frustration many times on his podcast.
Entering 2016, the Jets were thought to be a playoff contender. They boasted a talented defense, one of the top receiving corps in the game, and the addition of veteran Matt Forte in the backfield. Just before the clock struck midnight, they resigned Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year deal after he put together a career year in 2015.
Well, as anyone that is smart knows, procrastination can lead to painful and inexplicable failure (just look at my freshman year college transcripts).
Ryan missing all the mini camps and training camp proved to be the Jets demise and may have even ended Fitzpatrick’s NFL career. He was abysmal in 2016. Maybe the only team more painful to watch throughout the season was the L.A. Rams (primarily due to terrible QB play as well).
Now 2017 is beginning to look like a rebuild with news of them releasing Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, and Brandon Marshall. Or maybe this is a wise tactic to free up some cap space and go after some talent in free agency?
So moving forward at quarterback what do the Jets do? Geno Smith is somehow still on the roster, but I think the opportunity well for him to start in New York has run dry. Bryce Petty had a prolific college career and did show some levels of competency in the few games that he played in last season. Christian Hackenberg was taken in the second round of last year’s draft, but seeing as he didn’t even dress for half of last season’s games it would be hard to imagine him being the starter all of sudden.
As previously mentioned, there are a few free agent options. If the Bills do release Taylor, it might behoove them to sign him to a cheap contract.
And then there is the all-important sixth-overall pick in the 2017 draft. Do they feel that Trubisky or Watson (if still available) give them a better option than Petty or Hackenberg? Or should they take the best available player, pack in the 2017 season and go after a QB in the 2018 draft (a very rich quarterback class)?
Unless Tony Romo shocks the world and decides to sign with the Jets, New York finds themselves at the very bottom of the AFC East.