For the past two decades, the AFC East was home to the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. With Tom Brady leaving in free agency and either Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer taking his former spot as the New England Patriots’ new starter, however, the overall quality of quarterback play in the division has taken a hit.
Instead of Brady leading the pack, the AFC East’s most accomplished passer is now the Miami Dolphins’ Ryan Fitzpatrick — a player who may not even start this year due to the team selecting. Tua Tagovailoa in the first round of this year’s draft. Accordingly, it is no surprise to see the division being ranked seventh out of the NFL’s eight in terms of QB quality by NFL.com columnist Adam Schein. Only the NFC East is ranked behind the group.
Schein’s reasoning reads as follows:
Ahead of the NFC East? Yep. Actually, I considered pushing this group even higher up the board. And I would’ve, if I knew Tua would start Week 1. If he’s healthy, he should play right away: He has the skills to be an instant star. Regular readers know how high I am on Allen, who significantly improved in Year 2. I already listed the Bills QB as my leading dark-horse MVP candidate in 2020. I still think Darnold has star potential, too. After the first half of his 2019 campaign was upended by mono, the Jets’ field general started to flourish down the stretch, with a 13:4 TD-to-INT ratio over his final eight games. While nobody really knows what to think about Stidham, I think an expecation of sound-and-solid play is fair.
While Josh Allen and Sam Darnold are established as starters entering their third season in the league, they can still be seen as works in progress: Allen has been a gunslinger with notable highs but horrific lows, while Darnold has failed to lift a bad Jets team. Add the uncertainty surrounding potential first-time starters Stidham and Tagovailoa, and you get a division that has plenty of potential at the quarterback position but little pedigree.
The full list, by the way, reads as follows:
- NFC South
- NFC West
- AFC West
- AFC North
- NFC North
- AFC South
- AFC East
- NFC East