There is arguably no division in the NFL that carries as much quarterback intrigue as the AFC East: you have two top-10 rookies, a player coming off season-ending injury, and the 41-year old greatest quarterback of all time. This mix should make for big entertainment this season and will certainly make for big headlines – the latter holding true once more yesterday, when two of the teams named their starters for the regular season opener.
The Buffalo Bills were the first team to announce their starter for their week one matchup on Monday: second-year man Nathan Peterman will lead his team into its opening contest against the Baltimore Ravens – a team that also invested a first-round pick in a quarterback this year. Peterman, who is coming off a strong preseason performance, was chosen over the seventh overall draft pick, Josh Allen.
Entering the draft, Allen was seen as a developmental option and so far during his career in Buffalo he appeared to be just that. And while he had his moments, he apparently did not yet give the coaching staff confidence to go with him over the Peterman. Meanwhile, Peterman will try to improve on a terrible rookie season that saw him finish with a completion percent below 50% and five interceptions (as opposed to two touchdowns) in four games.
The New York Jets also announced their starting quarterback yesterday, and the title unsurprisingly went to rookie Sam Darnold. After joining the Jets as the third overall pick of this year’s draft, Darnold quickly showed why New York felt confident trading up to get him: despite some natural growing pains, he looked ready to take over for incumbent Josh McCown and will now get a chance to prove his value on national television next Monday night.
At 21 years and 97 days, Darnold becomes the youngest starting quarterback in the NFL and only the third Jets rookie to start for the team on opening day. New York fans will have to hope that he turns out better than the last two: fellow former first-round selection Mark Sanchez and ex-second-round pick Geno Smith all flamed out with the Jets rather quickly. Now, it is Darnold’s turn to try and grow into the franchise quarterback the team has not had since the days of... well, Joe Namath?
While the Bills and Jets will enter 2018 with new starting quarterbacks, the rest of the division is set: the New England Patriots will field reigning league MVP Tom Brady, while the Miami Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill returned after a de-facto two-year absence.