Worst to First Candidates

By Andy Goddard (@godsy1985) – 16th June

The National Football League is meant to be one of parity (tell that to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots). In 2018 the Chicago Bears, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts all reached the playoffs after having losing records in 2017. It is one of the great things about the NFL, the possibility of going from being the worst team to lifting the Lombardi trophy is real. So who are our candidates this year? Let’s look at four teams that finished at the bottom of their respective divisions.

New York Giants

The Giants had an awful 2018 season with a 5-11 record but the emergence of Saquon Barkley was a big plus with his 1307 rushing yards and 721 receiving yards. The play of Eli Manning was much maligned but when you look at the stats, he may not have been as poor as advertised. Eli’s QB rating was 92.4 which was the forth best of his career and his 66% completion ratio (for 4,299 yards) was the highest of his career. (http://www.nfl.com/player/elimanning/2505996/careerstats). There is no doubt that Manning has lost some mobility though. He was sacked 47 times in the 2018 season (a career high) and the offensive line needs some attention but it is fully expect that the Giants will be a run heavy team in 2019. Barkley is primed for another phenomenal season and with the addition of Golden Tate at wide receiver they still have weapons even without Beckham Jr. In 2018, the Giants lost eight games by 7 points or less and lost their final two games of the season by just a single point! When you look at their 2018 season in more detail, they weren’t far away from a 9-7 record which could have seen them reach the playoffs!

The Giants also have two big advantages in 2019. Their strength of schedule is ranked as the 27th most difficult and the NFC East is wide open. Whilst the Philadelphia Eagles should improve (as long as Wentz stays healthy), the Dallas Cowboys may go backwards and the Washington Redskins are potentially starting a rookie quarterback. If they can upgrade the pass rush (which ranked 30th in sacks) they should have a great shot at reaching the playoffs in 2019!

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have a talented roster that have been under-utilised for years but with new head coach Zac Taylor now at the helm, could the Bengals improve of their 6-10 record in what is normally a tough division? The AFC North has lost a huge amount of talent from the Pittsburgh Steelers, has gained a mass of talent in Cleveland and has a seemingly sketchy playbook and an ageing defence in Baltimore. There doesn’t appear to be a clear favourite in the division and this may open the field up for the Bengals to surprise a few people. For this to happen the Bengals will need to improve massively on what was one the weakest defences (yardage wise) in NFL history, ranking fifth all time in yards allowed (https://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tiny.fcgi?id=xNW3M). Cincinnati will be hoping that the coaching change can address this situation. There is plenty of talent of the offensive side of the ball with the serviceable Andy Dalton throwing to A. J.  Green, Tyler Boyd and Tyler Eifert as well as having Joe Mixon in the backfield, they seem to have a balanced attack if it can be exploited to its full potential. 

With the AFC North in a stage of transition its very easy to see the Bengals finishing at the top of the pile, however, it is also very easy to see them finishing in last place once again!

New York Jets

The New England Patriots may have won the AFC East in 16 out of the last 18 seasons but they can’t win forever, can they? Coming off of a 4-12 season, Adam Gase is now the head coach (replacing Todd Bowles) and the team have made some great moves in both free agency and the draft. Le’Veon Bell is a stellar running back with his patient style but questions remain over whether sitting out the whole of last season will have impacted him in any way. Then there is second year QB Sam Darnold who, at times last season, looked very much like the franchise player that the Jets needed. Darnold did have his struggles (as most first year QB’s do) but if he does make the transition to the second year, similar to that of Mitch Trubisky at the Bears, the Jets are well primed to cause teams problems. With the drafting of Alabamas Quinnen Williams (defensive tackle) ‘Gang Green’ may have found a run blocker to play at nose tackle in a 3-4 defence that’s Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams is reportedly staying with.

The New York Jets also have one of the easiest schedules in 2019, tied at 27th. The only problem here is that they are tied with the New England Patriots (https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/2019-nfl-strength-of-schedule-patriots-and-redskins-have-it-easiest-raiders-face-roughest-ride/). Winning the AFC East maybe very difficult in 2019 but it wasn’t long ago that the Jets went into Foxboro for a divisional playoff game and came out victorious. The 2019 season may be slightly too early but the Jets are building a strong team for the future and it would not surprise me to see them in the playoffs in 2019.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags plummeted after reaching the 2017 AFC Championship Game finishing last season with a 5-11 record. However, there is no last-place team that is better equipped to rebound. They still have a talented defence that finished fifth in the NFL in 2018 (http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?tabSeq=2&defensiveStatisticCategory=GAME_STATS&conference=ALL&role=OPP&season=2018&seasonType=REG&d-447263-s=TOTAL_YARDS_GAME_AVG&d-447263-o=1&d-447263-n=1) and they have upgraded where they needed it most, quarterback! For the last two seasons many people have wondered what this team could be with more functionality at QB. Nick Foles has shown that he can produce on the biggest stage and the 2017 Super Bowl MVP can also call on running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette had a poor 2018 season that was hampered by injury, suspension, and by his own admission, being in ‘sub-optimal shape’. With a healthier o-line and improvement in fitness, the LSU man will need to produce with more consistency for the Jaguars to have a chance. 

Head coach, Doug Marrone has also had a big change up of his coaching staff with 8 coaches either joining the Jags or being promoted from within (https://www.jaguars.com/news/official-defilippo-named-oc-staff-finalized). One major problem for the Jaguars could be the strength of the AFC South. The Texans, Colts and Titans all had winning records in 2018 with two of the three making the playoffs. Whilst the division is relatively open, it’s up for grabs because all of the teams are good. However, if Foles can reproduce his performances from Philly and Fournette can get back to his 2017 form, the Jaguars should get back to the playoffs.

Best Chance?

For my money, the Giants and the Jaguars have the best chance but what do you think? Will any of these teams even make the playoffs or is there a better candidate out there? Let us know @Full10Yards

 

Pick It Apart; Christian Wilkins

Pick it Apart!

The Draft is in the books and the dust has settled. But how well did your team do in the first round?

We are taking a look back at every selection in the first round and giving you the lowdown on the pick; Was it a reach? Was it a steal? We’ll tell you and give you the impact for fantasy football….

Pick: #13

Player: Christian Wilkins

Drafted by: Miami Dolphins

Grade: B

Analysis: I think it’s fair to assume that if you ask 10 different ‘Fins fans about how they thought the Dolphins would approach their first 1st pick in the draft, I think you’d get a lot of different answers;

From trading back and accumulating yet more picks, to a Quarterback such as Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock etc.

I am not too sure how many of them would have selected a Defensive Tackle, and even less of those would have selected Christian Wilkins.

Brian Flores, the former Patriots DC, decided to beef up the O-Line with a 6”3, 315lb brute from Clemson. This will no doubt add help to a defence that were 27th in total points allowed and 29th in total yardage surrendered and bottom 10 in most rushing defence categories.

He’ll be remembered on draft day as the guy who jump bumped the Commish (shame it wasn’t a bit harder) and you can tell by his aura that he is a leader.

He is a hardworker, illustrated by the fact he got his degree in 2 and a half years. On the field, he racked up tackles from his freshman year, all the way to his final year. Wilkins can do it all, break up passes, tackles, stuff the run and sack the QB. The reason the grade is a B (if you haven’t noticed, I’ve given a lot of A’s thus far), is that I question whether or not it was the right pick at this position.

Whilst the Dolphins are lacking in a multitude of areas and have a bucket load of picks in 2020, I wonder if they had any calls from other teams to move up because I think Wilkins would have been there for another 5-10 picks. Even if he wasn’t, there would be comparable alternatives for them to choose from.

The positives though, he has character, talent and the athleticism to succeed in the NFL and will be asked to do a lot of it on his own in year one considering the rest of the talent on the roster. Next year and a few years from now though, if Miami invest wisely, it could be a force to be reckoned with Wilkins being the jewel in the crown.

Fantasy Football Impact:

Miami are not relevant for fantasy defences, unlikely to be too relevant in IDP but will certainly be the stud player and top points scorer of this team in my opinion. Just depends on how many points he can get. The defence will be on the field a fair bit so individual opportunity is there.

Pick It Apart; Ed Oliver

Pick it Apart!

The Draft is in the books and the dust has settled. But how well did your team do in the first round?

We are taking a look back at every selection in the first round and giving you the lowdown on the pick; Was it a reach? Was it a steal? We’ll tell you and give you the impact for fantasy football….

Pick: #9

Player: Ed Oliver

Drafted by: Buffalo Bills

Grade: A-

Analysis: The rumour mill was churning that Ed Oliver could have gone as high as #3 overall to the Jets, so this has to merit some kind of value here to the Bills at 9. I think that this was about right for the defensive tackle out of Houston. It would have been interesting to see if they would have still opted for Oliver had TJ Hockenson been on the board.

The Bills defence, middle of the pack in terms of rushing defence in yards and 26th in sacks(but ranked no.2 overall) do need a bit of an oomph up the gut after the exit of Kyle Williams and Oliver will bring it. He brings a quick, explosiveness to the position and whilst many say he may be too big (6”3 and heavier than Aaron Donald for perspective), he will do exactly what Sean McDermott picked him for. Although many considered Oliver to have a somewhat underwhelming 2018 and final college season (Oliver declared prior to his final college season that he would declare for 2019), he still finished with 54 tackles (14.5 for loss, 3 sacks( in 8 games after missing a bit of time with injury.

His transition in to the league will mean that he’ll look to fill those big boots vacated by Kyle Williams and does bring a slight question mark about character (had a bit of a run in with a coach in college during a game over a jacket). Expect Sean McDermott, a coach known for his knack of getting the most out of his players and getting them all to play for him, to give Oliver 1 simple task…get after the Quarterback. McDermott attended Oliver’s pro day and it seems as if Oliver was hand picked by the Bills HC should he have gotten to #9 overall, so it would have been REALLY interesting if TJ Hockenson was there. Unfortunately, that’s something we’ll never know….just like why Jon Snow didn’t pet Ghost before leaving Winterfell.

Fantasy Football Impact:

Buffalo Bills defence are sneaky good, and Oliver could be a sneaky addition in IDP leagues with his duty to essentially go and get the Quarterback. Considering how good the back end of this defence is and the other teams in this division, he could rack up a decent about of sacks in his rookie year.

Pick It Apart; Quinnen Williams

The Draft is in the books and the dust has settled. But how well did your team do in the first round?

We are taking a look back at every selection in the first round and giving you the lowdown on the pick; Was it a reach? Was it a steal? We’ll tell you and give you the impact for fantasy football….

Pick: #3

Player:  Quinnen Williams

Drafted by: New York Jets

Grade: A

Analysis: Picking at 3 again this year after trading up last year to get their guy at quarterback. This one a bit easier to select, especially when Kyler and Nick went 1 and 2 overall. Yes the Jets need edge rushers because it has been over a decade since they’ve had one, but in my opinion this is the best player in this draft and the Jets had Williams fall into their laps at number 3. It would have been interesting to see who they would have selected if Quinnen was not there or if they would have even made the pick at all (lots of news around them wanting to trade back to reconcile lost picks from last year).

However, the Alabama defensive end will be a star in the league and will come in from day one and make the defensive line a whole lot bigger, nastier and better. The guy is over 300lbs and still ran a quicker 40 yard dash time than most RBs in this year’s draft class and was the 4th fastest time at the drill for guys over 300lbs. Whilst his other measurables do not jump off the page, his tape does. Learning from previous teammates such as previous first round picks Da’Ron Payne and Jonathan Allen, Williams has 18.5 tackles for a loss in 2018 which includes 7 sacks and a safety. His style of quick feet, great hands and consistency in dominating by getting low and driving through will serve him well in the NFL and will be a cause of nightmares for Tom Brady when they first meet.

To give an even analysis, he may struggle against double teams and as previously stated, his measurables don’t jump off the page so will need to learn a trick or two to be able to withstand NFL calibre lineman. He only has 1 year of production to shout about too, but there is a lot to like about what Williams could be. Hopefully Williams will be able to follow in the footsteps of his previous Alabama teammates on that defensive line. There’s no doubt his over-arm technique, which he has mastered will be the key to getting through and creating pass rush and can play in a zero nose to a 3 tech so if there are Any lines out there with a chink in the armour, Williams is likely gonna find it.

Fantasy Football Impact:

Can’t really attribute fantasy impact to defensive lineman and the Jets have not exactly been a goldmine of fantasy points. That said, IDP leagues, he’ll have some decent weeks and will make some plays and can be a force even in his rookie season. His quickness at reacting and understanding what the paly is will help him get to QBs quicker than the rest of the DT class and that should transfer over in to the NFL both for real life and for fantasy.

Where Do They Go From Here; NY Jets

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the New York Jets.

Don’t forget to check out the AFC East podcast where we talked to Ian Roach and got their thoughts on them!

How Did Last Season Go?

On the positive side, Sam Darnold’s rookie season arguably got stronger as he acclimatised to the NFL. On the negative side, there were more turnovers from the Jets than a bakery after a delivery. After their week 6 win vs the Colts, the Jets had a 3-3 record, unfortunately in the subsequent 10 gameweeks, they only mustered 1 more win vs Buffalo. The schedule wasn’t the kindest to be fair. The Jets were bottom 10 in both points for and against whilst most of their stats see them in the bottom half for pretty much everything…not good. Ultimately, this is why Todd Bowles lost his job.

Housekeeping

New York Jets once again have the 3rd pick in the 1st round of the draft. They don’t have a 2nd rounder after trading up in the 2018 draft. But have 2 3rd rounders and picks in round 4,5 and 7.

The Jets were one of the wealthiest teams heading in to Free Agency and despite being very active, still are top 10 in cap space available with $26m.

Outgoings

Apart from Bowles at HC, there was a lot of names heading out the exit door in New York. RBs Bilal Powell and Isiah Crowell,  WR Jermaine Kearse and QB Josh McCown.

Elsewhere Mo Claiborne & Buster Skrine (CB), James Carpenter (G) and kicker Jason Myers were other notable names that wont be in the Gang Green in 2019.

Incomings

Lots! Well you need to with all of the names going the other way.

Mr Taco Adam Gase is the new head coach and comes over from division rival Miami.

LeVeon Bell was the big splash at RB and he’ll run behind former Raider Osemele. Jamison Crowder comes in to the slot in a slightly surprising move considering they already had Enunwa. Another big name signing is linebacker CJ Mosley from the Ravens. Anthony Barr was supposed to be there too but apparently felt sick to his stomach at the thought of being away from Minnesota.

Outlook for Next Year

Some big questions for the Jets in 2019 include; How quickly can LeVeon Bell hit the ground running? Has Sam Darnold taken a step forward?  If both of these are positive storylines for the Jets in 2019, it’s not out of the question that the Jets make the playoffs. The weak AFC East is not as perhaps weak as 2018 (except for Miami) so opportunities are there. Their schedule is easier than last year with the Raiders, Jags, Bengals and Giants all on their slate.

Prediction

If Bell hits the ground running, and Darnold cuts out the picks, the Jets could be a sneaky playoff team in 2019. I think it may be one more year before they are considered regular playoff contenders but we all remember when Mark Sanchez entered the league. Could be a team that gets hot from nowhere and surprises a few people.

Fantasy Football

Sam Darnold – undrafted – low QB2

LeVeon Bell – late 1st/2nd Round pick – low RB1

Robby Anderson – 7th/8th Round pick – WR3

Jamison Crowder – double digit rounds – WR3/4

Chris Herndon – double digit rounds / undrafted – low TE1 – *Sleeper alert*

Where Do They Go From Here; Dolphins

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the Miami Dolphins.

Don’t forget to check out the AFC East podcast where we talked to a fan from every team in the division and got their thoughts on them!

How Did Last Season Go?

The good – Starting 3-0 and beating New England at home once more.

The bad – Most of the season including Kenyan Drake’s usage.

The ugly – Adam Gase’s tenure and the depth on the roster.

2018 saw the Dolphins post their 3rd losing record in 4 seasons. Ranked bottom 7 in both offence and defence in terms of points and yards. 2nd season in a row with a points differential of triple figures in the red. That 3-0 start seemed like a long long time ago….

Housekeeping

The Dolphins own picks 13 (Round 1),48 (2) ,78 (3), 116 (4), 151(5), 233(7), 234(7).

Cap space. Lots. Currently $37m left for 2019, but the estimated rollover cap is around $100m. Dolphins are going to be busy over the next year or so.

Outgoings

Adam Gase era is no more after 3 seasons but fear not Miami fans, you’ll still see him twice a year. His “sidekick” on the field Ryan Tannehill also departs for Tennessee.

Leading receiver (Amendola) and leading rusher (Frank Gore) are no longer with the team nor are Cameron Wake (Tennessee), Robert Quinn (Dallas) and Josh Sitton (currently a Free Agent).

Incomings

Brian Flores comes over from rivals New England, but how much of a leash will he be given?

The Ryan Fitzmagic tour stops off in Miami, and with that he punches the third hole in his AFC East loyalty card. Apart from that, not too much to get excited about unfortunately.

Outlook for Next Year

The will they / wont they tanking narrative will rumble on all summer.

I think they’ll play honest football and when you have Ryan Fitzpatrick as the signal caller it’s the perfect way to pretend you aren’t hoping for a poor season. Like a rollercoaster that makes you sick. Enjoy the ride and know at the end what is coming.

The AFC East isn’t as weak anymore with Buffalo and the Jets strengthening greatly. The Dolphins will be the runt of the litter and get there a bit after the other AFC East teams. Whether that will be too late or not we will have to see.

Hard Rock stadium seemed to be a bit of an advantage for the Dolphins last year and were poor away from home. A trend I expect to continue.

Prediction

A 4th placed finished in the division beckons. It is the obvious position for the Dolphins, as is a top 5 pick in the 2020 draft . It should have it’s highs and lows with Fitzpatrick conducting the orchestra so at least the fans will have something to watch each week.

Judging by the last few seasons, there will be another game which is either postponed or delayed by 5 hours…. joys.

Fantasy Football

Ryan Fitzpatrick – undrafted – could be absolutely anything. But likely around a mid QB2 and should be a viable streamer.

Kenyan Drake – 4th/5th round – low RB2

Albert Wilson – Later rounds – mid WR3

Kenny Stills – Later rounds – low WR3/4

Mike Gesicki – undrafted – low TE2/TE3

 

 

NFC Storylines and LateRoundQBs

In Today’s podcast, we are joined by none other than JJ Zachariason (@lateroundQB) to chat about his podcast and late round QBs but more importantly, whether he would accept work as the first person narrator if they ever brought the TV show “Scrubs” back.

Talking of scrubs, we go through every AFC team and what headlines we will be reading in the offseason and also get JJ to give us a name that will fly under the radar in the upcoming draft.

Put the mockers on it looks at fizzy drinks and Sam from Head On A Swivel podcast tackles the quiz…can they get over the 8 hump?

PLUS info on some things we’ll be freshening up in April!

Which Division won the Free Agency?

We all have our opinions as to which teams or players got or bad deals. Maybe you loved Mark Ingram to the Ravens, Dee Ford to the 49ers or maybe even Geoff Swaim to the Jags (you sick people!).

But lets go one step further than that, which DIVISION won in Free Agency? For me, one clear winner…

AFC East

This in my mind is the unquestionable winner from the Free Agency frenzy;

Cast your minds back 12 months, Bills fans were celebrating the arrivals of Jeremy Kerley and AJ McCarron (*pukes*) and Miami fans were shuddering at Brock Osweiler being their long term solution (I kid, of course). Added on to that, current free agent Isiah Crowell was being signed by the Jets on a 3 year, $12m deal (get well soon Isiah).

At time of this article, I don’t think that there is any doubt that the AFC are now finally in position where the playing field is shaping towards being a tiny bit more even.

Yes, the Patriots are probably going to still win the AFC East, maybe perhaps for the last time as the chasing pack have applied their Fast and Furious NOS systems and pressed the launch button.

Starting off in New York, the acquisitions of LeVeon Bell, Jamison Crowder on offence and CJ Mosley on defence make them the main protagonists to the Patriots in 2019. The kicker here is the 3rd pick in the 2019 draft too. If they manage to trade down and pick up another few picks inside the first few rounds, this team could make a real push at a division title.

Before we all go rushing to the bookmakers and shoving some hard earned on the currently 100/1 available on them to win the Super Bowl (50s for the AFC is tempting though!), there are scenarios where this goes horribly wrong.

Firstly, LeVeon Bell may be rusty. He’s just taken a year out to release a dodgy rap album and become a pro at riding jet skis. There isn’t one person in the world in any sport that can be off the field and still stay in match fitness, not even Cristiano Ronaldo. You’ll get all the cliche “best shape of his life” quotes from coaches in the offseason about Bell, just take it with a pinch of salt.

Secondly, we have Adam Gase running the ship. I’m not his greatest fan despite his love for flying Tacos and the jury is still out on him in my opinion as to whether he is a good coach or even a good offensive mind in the NFL. Apart from his time with Peyton Manning (where he was OC), what has he accomplished? Probably about as much as Theresa May has with Brexit negotiations. Miami are in a mess after his few years there, and Chicago were hardly perennial playoff visitors. As a head coach, I am yet to see why Gase is held in high regards. Always reports of rifts with players, especially in Miami, what’s to say that he doesn’t get on with Sam Darnold or LeVeon Bell or anyone in New York for that matter?

Talking of Darnold, there is also a case to be made that he may not progress in his second year in the NFL. I am a big fan and he showed flashes last year of what he can do. His love for interceptions may be hard to shake off but now with more pieces around him, a stellar guy in the backfield as a security blanket along with Crowder, you may see Darnold flourish. But there is a slightly bigger than small chance that he maybe not quite there yet. Offences can struggle when new HC come in and implement something new, just ask Matt Ryan and Marcus Mariota.

I still see the Jets as the main contenders and a dark horse in the AFC to play a game in January this year (you heard it here first!), but just don’t buy first class tickets on the hype train just yet…it’s expensive in New York after all.

Moving on to a team which i think are in the top 3 of teams that won in Free Agency, the Buffalo Bills.

The exodus on the offensive line is starting to be repaired, with Mitch Morse coming over from Kansas City who is a former 2nd round pick in the 2015 draft and Ty Nsekhe, a solid tackle from Washington.

Buffalo were awful at running the ball last season (taking away Josh Allen’s scrambles) with only Marcus Murphy averaging over 4 yards per carry (on 52 attempts). So the additions in FA, plus whatever they pick up in the Draft, should see Josh Allen have more time to throw deep bombs to newly acquired John “Smokey” Brown.

Many people will forget how electric John Brown was in Baltimore last season when Joe “Statue” Flacco was quarterbacking for them in the early weeks of the season. Prior to the week 10 bye, Brown had 601 yards on 34 receptions. Compare that to Lamar Jackson time, Brown had 114 yards on 8 receptions. John Brown showed us last season that he can play a full season after seemingly overcoming his sickle cell trait that he had over in Arizona. I think Brown and Allen are a match made in heaven and could help fire this Buffalo offence into scoring points where they were 3rd worst in the league last season (I’ll also happily take John Brown at a discount in draft come August).

Cole Beasley and Tyler Kroft are good supporting cast members too and will slot in nicely  to provide a veteran presence alongside Buffalo’s younger pieces of Zay Jones (23), Isiah McKenzie (23) and Robert Foster (24). You would expect at least one of those to step forward to complete this wide receiving core. Whilst collectively they are as old as Countdown viewers average age in the backfield (especially with the addition of Gore), I would expect this to be addressed in the draft this year, if not next.

We move on to Miami finally, and this one could take a little bit longer to boil.

They’ve just said their goodbyes to Ryan Tannehill and shoved him in a suitcase and up Route 75 to Tennessee, leaving 2 schmucks at Quarterback (interesting stat, Rams Punter Johnny Hecker has thrown an NFL ball more times than Luke Faulk and Jake Ruddock. I smell a trade rumour! Just kidding).

The outlook though is not so bleak;

They have a projected $120m in rolled over cap for the 2020 season (pending any subsequent trade moves, which, by the way, I am predicting Colin Kaepernick starts week 1!) and at this moment at LEAST 10 picks in the 2020 draft. The one that apparently has millions of HOF Quarterbacks as we keep hearing over and over (do over with it, already). Chris Grier is putting the work in to fully rebuild this franchise which needs to take a step back before it can take a step forward. Whilst this season may not be pretty for new HC Brian Flores and the Dolphins, the future certainly is looking bright and finally, there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the fans in the South East of America. Kenyan Drake may finally be seen in a positive light (still only 25) and Kalen Ballage/Mike Gesicki are also entering their 2nd seasons. Pair that with 26yr olds Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker (OK, maybe clutching here a bit), it wont actually take much to make this offence watchable when the new QB is installed.

Add all of this together, and all of a sudden, Buffalo and New York don’t seem too far away from a Patriots team that is going to come back to the pack at some point. Miami should be casually late to the party, like the cool kids at school except the part about being cool. Miami are not cool.

Last, but by no means least the Patriots. Whilst they may not have done anything in Free Agency of note, especially with regards to the “IN” door, they are the masters at staying on top and the intrigue of how the other 3 teams have approached this Free Agency automatically means that the Patriots are a winner in Free Agency. Letting go of Trent Brown, Trey Flowers, et al. means they get compensatory picks in next year’s Draft. We all know at how good New England are with getting the most out of their picks and turning them in to seemingly big stars when it’s the system. Whilst they will return to the pack when Brady/Gronk etc retire, they will always be the ones setting the bar in the division and as each year passes, the fascination increases as to whether the moves made by the other teams finally give them the chance to leapfrog New England. The same applies to this year.

These are the reasons I put to you that the AFC East division is the winner of the 2019 Free agency.

When the Patriots do come back to the field a little bit and we say that every year (and we saw signs last regular season that the time is nigh), there is more than just one team ready to pounce and one could argue that the next few years, the AFC East could be the most intriguing and that the division as a whole at the very least is now competitive where over the last few years, it’s been the laughing stock of the NFL (even with the Patriots winning it all multiple times over that time period).

Let me know your thoughts and whether or not there is another division that won the Free Agency. Maybe you think the AFC North with the Cleveland stuff? Or perhaps the NFC north with Green Bay strengthen that defence? Would love to hear your thoughts so get in touch with us on THE TWITTER @full10yards or @Tim_Monk85.

We’ll be covering Free agency on our podcast on the 26th March. Don’t miss it!

In the great words of late great Mr Buffalo Bill himself Kevin Cadle, Bye Bye for now… Bye Bye.