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AFC East Report: Preseason Week 1

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The first week of preseason action is over. Let's take a look at how the AFC East fared.

The New York Jets' starting quarterbeard.
The New York Jets' starting quarterbeard.
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Football is back. Of course, it is more or less meaningless football but after an offseason dominated by insanity, hot takes and baseless accusations it is good to finally talk about what is happening on the football field.

While the New England Patriots' preseason opening loss against the visiting Green Bay Packers has been analyzed quite a lot the last few days, it is now time to take a look at the rest of the AFC East's teams.

Buffalo Bills

Preseason Week 1: Loss (25-24 against the Carolina Panthers, in Buffalo)

Matt Cassel (7/8, 48 yds) started the Bills' preseason opener against the visiting Panthers. He was accurate and avoided mistakes on the two drives he led Buffalo's number one offense. Even though the unit did not score until Tyrod Taylor took over for Cassel after two drives, the former Patriot looked solid in his Bills' debut. The aforementioned Taylor was not as consistent with his arm (5/8, 49 yds) but displayed an ability to make plays with his feet, rushing six times for 47 yards – he was the team's second-leading rusher behind Bryce Brown (6/52 yds, 1 TD). The Bills' superstar running back LeSean McCoy (6/16 yds) did not have as active a day. The same goes for Buffalo's defense, which started well, allowing one Carolina first down on the first two drives, but once the majority of starters left the field, ran a little out of gas. The unit gave up 25 points in the last three quarters and also allowed the game-winning two pointer to be converted with :54 left on the clock. While the defense was solid in certain aspects of the game (rushing yards, 3rd down efficiency), it was unable to produce big plays. The biggest play of the entire night was produced by former first-round pick EJ Manuel (4/8, 77 yds, 1 TD), who threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to wideout Deonte Thompson (2/61 yds, 1 TD) late in the third quarter.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

Miami Dolphins

Preseason Week 1: Loss (27-10 against the Chicago Bears, in Chicago)

The Dolphins traveled to Chicago to start their preseason and left Illinois with an 0-1 record. Even though Miami lost the game, the top of the team's depth chart looked good. Led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill (6/7, 56 yds, 1 TD), the first-team offense started the game with a 14-play, 85-yard drive that ended with a two-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to second-year wide receiver Jarvis Landry (2/11 yds, 1 TD) and saw a the unit successfully moving the ball mixing both the pass and the run. The touchdown was Tannehill's last snap of the game as it became the backup-show from that point on – the result: only three more points but three overall interceptions. While Miami's starting offense looked good, so did its defense. The Bears were only able to score three points in the first half as marquee free agent Ndamukong Suh and company did not allow their opponent to find an offensive rhythm. The backup defenders were not as successful, as they allowed the home team to score 24 unanswered points to close and win the game. While the defense defended the pass well (only giving up 191 yards through the air), it had a hard time stopping Chicago's running game: the Bears were able to rush for 161 yards (5.0 yds/carry) and two scores.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

New York Jets

Preseason week 1: Loss (23-3 against the Detroit Lions, in Detroit)

It was a tumultuous week for the New York Jets and it looked as if the distractions got the better of the team in Detroit. Gang Green looked out of sync on offense and overpowered on defense, as the team gave up 305 more yards than it gained (428-123). However, it has to be pointed out that the starters did not play very much. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (2/3, 16 yds), for instance, played one series and led the offense to its only points of the day; free agency pickup Brandon Marshall (1/12 yds) caught just one ball. With the starters on the sidelines, New York was only able to gain four more first downs and did not gain a new set of downs on six of eight post-Fitzpatrick drives. While the offense struggled without its starters on the field, the backup defense fared relatively well: it allowed only 13 points in three quarters. For comparison, the players higher on the defensive depth chart – including former Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis – gave up a touchdown and a field goal during their first two series.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

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In the first week of competitive football since the Patriots won the Super Bowl, the division went 0-4. It has to be pointed out, though, that we are talking about preseason here: vanilla schemes, no real game preparation and not many chances to find a groove. Only in two weeks – preseason game number three – will we see something resembling regular season football. Until then, the games have to be seen as what they are: a chance to improve.