The second to last entry in our Around the AFC East series is rating the wide receivers. From a Patriots standpoint, this will be very, very interesting. We can't, in general, go by last year's performance as Tom Brady was not at the helm. In addition, I still have looming questions about how Tommy Terrific will perform on the field. I know many of you have told me not to worry, that there are plenty of other things to worry about, but I can't help thinking if I did that, I'd be burying my head in the sand. No offense to anyone with a contrary opinion; I have two daughters and am, by nature, a worry wart.
Looking at the NFL statistics for yards-per-game in the passing game, an AFC East team doesn't even hit the list until #10 and that's Miami. However, Miami did post well in other categories like average yards per catch (6th) and completion percentage (1st). If you're a believer in Football Outsiders, their DVOA puts Miami at 6th. The biggest question is, "How will Bady do?" I hate to be a homer, but is that not one of the top three questions AFC East teams are thinking of? Ok, maybe I'm a super homer to think everyone's thinking about the Patriots, but c'mon...
- New England Patriots - It's extremely hard for me not to put the Patriots at #1 in the wide receiver ratings. The QB has a LOT to do with it and not taking into account Brady's return is...well, suicidal. Both Wes Welker and Randy Moss have stated they think this year's team is better than 2007 simply because they didn't know the playbook as well. Read whatever you want into that, but it says to me that these guys have experience in the system and that's a valuable thing. Joey Galloway is an open book - I simply don't know what he can accomplish. I do believe, however, Greg Lewis will be a wildcard in this receiver corp. I have a feeling he's a going to break out.
- Buffalo Bills - The Bills have a serious player in Lee Evans and at 16.1 yard average per carry, he's a contender. Add to this...wait for it...T.O. No, I don't think T.O. is the second coming. I DO think he is a capable receiver who is on a mission to prove himself. Between these two, I think Buffalo is more than capable of doing some damage. Are the other receivers in their roster that are worth noting? Sure. But the tandem of Lee Evans and T.O. could be very deadly this year.
- Miami Dolphins - As stated above, the Dolphins did very well last year. There were no standouts, but they did their jobs. Unfortunately, because there were no standouts, I don't think they'll be as high in the rankings as they might have been with a Brady-less Patriots and a T.O.-less Bills. There was a lot to be gained by Brady not being around and T.O. ensconced in Dallas. The Landscape is different today.
- New York Jets - I know Jerricho Cotchery. How about a rookie quarterback in Mark Sanchez? They're betting the farm on a rookie, but I don't see another alternative for the NYJ. They need a starting QB and are willing to pay for it. Sanchez will, most likely, have a very tough year in 2009. He may become a threat in 2010 IFF he has some skills. If he can't do it with Coles and Cotchery, his future may look dim.