While in my opinion it has relatively been an overall quiet NFL offseason, if you were to put a pulse on which team has attracted the most attention in the last 4 months, both on AND off the field, I’d dare say the New England Patriots win that contest in a landslide.
Starting in March with 100 catch a season WR Wes Welker in which the Pats allowed him to sign with another legendary QB named Peyton in Denver. Then the off field partying, often injured TE Rob Gronkowski who is expected to miss the start of the regular season due to back surgery. And now, former TE Aaron Hernandez who has much larger things to worry about facing murder charges.
It’s seems easy to knee-jerk and crown a new winner in the AFC East this coming season with everything I just mentioned.
I’d pump the brakes on that notion right now.
Look, this isn’t meant to be disrespectful towards New England’s division rivals, the Dolphins, Bills and even the J-E-T-S. But the reality is simple, last time I checked Tom Brady is still the starting quarterback for the Patriots. And yes there will be expected challenges as to how New England will tweak their roster as we approach the start of league wide training camp come late July. But it wouldnt be the first time Brady/Belichick have had to work with no names. I mean lets keep it real, this core has won 3 Super Bowl titles on that very narrative.
Does the names Deion Branch, David Givens and David Patten ring a bell?
I am a resident of South Florida so naturally the attention given especially in light of this Hernandez saga has turned the local conversation into a presented opportunity for Miami Dolphin fans. And yes I will agree in leu of a successful Free Agency and Draft this spring, the excitement is warranted for Miami in 2013. But I will hold pause on the AFC East title guarantees for now. Miami looks very much improved on paper. But we have yet to see this team put a product on the field, let alone in the preseason.
The NY Jets are still a mess within themselves that ultimately whether they want to come to grips with it or not, they are in rebuilding mode. Even with the current Patriots questions, the Jets are still no better in my opinion than a 6 win ballclub and thats assuming Mark Sanchez and company figures things out. No confidence there
Buffalo has a rookie QB in EJ Manuel that while has alot of promise, we are not sure he will even be their Week 1 starter. Oft-injured Kevin Kolb may be asked to ride that ship until Manuel is ready and even then can you even see this Bills team, EVEN with an improved roster, really flirting with 10 wins? Cause in my opinion the #10 is the magic number teams in that division need to thwart a challenge towards the Patriots.
The AFC East is still New England’s to lose. The larger question for Pats fans are whether they can compete for a Super Bowl. That my friends remains to be seen.