While Tom Brady will be back for a 19th season as the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback, the rest of the AFC East is currently turning over the position. Both the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills invested high first-round draft picks this year to potentially – and finally – find some passers to carry the “franchise” label. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins see their own franchise quarterback return from two major injuries.
Let’s take a closer look at the three:
Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen
The Bills drafting Josh Allen with the seventh overall selection in April was a hotly debated decision. While he arguably has the highest ceiling of all the passers picked, his bust potential cannot be denied either given the inconsistent accuracy and decision making he displayed in college. His first preseason game, as expected, was more of the same: Allen, who will be brought along slowly and possibly not be Buffalo’s day one starter, routinely showed his powerful arm but also made his share of rookie mistakes when it comes to reads and decisions. Playing the second half against the Carolina Panthers, he led his team to one touchdown.
Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill
After injuries cost him most of the last two years, Ryan Tannehill finally returned to the field last week. He started the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played one series, going four of six for 32 yards while leading Miami’s offense into field goal range. Tannehill did not look spectacular but it was nevertheless a big step in his quest to come back from his injuries: he appeared to be confident and was not limited by any potential rust. All in all, he left little doubt that he will be under center when the Dolphins open the season in four weeks.
New York Jets: Sam Darnold
While he entered the Jets’ preseason opener as the team’s third-string quarterback, rookie first-rounder Sam Darnold still gained more than two quarters worth of preseason experience — and delivered a solid performance in the process. Going 13 of 18 for 96 yards and a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons, Darnold showed a quick release and solid decision making. It was nothing fancy but still a good start into his pro career, that should certainly help him to put additional pressure on current starting quarterback Josh McCown.