A look at what the Patriots will be up against in the AFC East this year

  • FILE - In this June 15, 2016, file photo, Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor walks off the field during the team's NFL football minicamp in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bills head to training camp facing numerous concerns despite Rex Ryan's rosy proclamations regarding the state of his team. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert, File) Bill Wippert

  • FILE - In this May 24, 2016, file photo, Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan speaks to the media following an NFL football organized team activity in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bills head to training camp facing numerous concerns despite Ryan's rosy proclamations regarding the state of his team. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert, File) Bill Wippert

  • FILE - In this June 1, 2016, file photo, Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) takes part in drills during NFL football practice in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bills head to training camp facing numerous concerns despite Rex Ryan's rosy proclamations regarding the state of his team. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert, File) Bill Wippert

  • FILE - In this June 15, 2016, file photo, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill talks to members of the media at the Dolphins training facility in Davie, Fla. This season could determine whether Tannehill can be a franchise quarterback. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File) Wilfredo Lee

  • FILE - In this June 2, 2016, file photo, cranes work on the structural support of one of four spires that will be 200 feet above the roof surface and 357 feet from the ground at the Miami Dolphins' NFL football stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. They’ll play in an upgraded stadium thanks to a 500 million renovation that includes a canopy. But will the team be better? (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File) Alan Diaz

  • FILE - In this May 25, 2016 file photo, New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) throws a pass during NFL football practice, in Florham Park, N.J. Smith looked good during offseason workouts and minicamp, appearing to smoothly operate Chan Gailey's offense. But his career totals of 27 touchdowns, 35 interceptions and a 57.9 completion percentage when the games count have created plenty of skepticism whether he can truly lead a franchise. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) Kathy Willens

  • FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2016, file photo, New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y. The New York Jets are heading to training camp with their expected starting quarterback still unsigned. Locked for months in a contract stalemate that remains uncertain to be resolved, Fitzpatrick is still waiting for a new deal. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert, File) Bill Wippert

By Associated Press
Published: 7/21/2016 11:07:03 PM
Buffalo Bills (8-8)

Open camp: July 28, Pittsford, N.Y.

Last year: Rex Ryan acknowledges he made mistake in attempting to mesh defensive philosophies in his first year as coach. Led by Mario Williams, several players went public with complaints about Ryan’s scheme, and defense managed 21 sacks, a franchise low for a 16-game season, in extending Buffalo’s playoff drought to 16 years – the NFL’s longest active streak. On the bright side, QB Tyrod Taylor showed promise in going 8-6 as a first-time starter, while overseeing an offense that led the league in rushing and in scoring 24 touchdowns of 20 yards or longer.

Important additions: LB Zack Brown, rookie DE Shaq Lawson, rookie LB Reggie Ragland, assistant head coach Rob Ryan.

Important losses: DE Mario Williams, CB Leodis McKelvin, LB Nigel Bradham.

Camp needs: Bills need to stay healthy and out of trouble after an unsettled offseason began with RB LeSean McCoy being investigated for role in a bar fight in Philadelphia. No charges were filed against him. In a matter of days earlier this month, backup RB Karlos Williams was suspended by the NFL for four games for violating league’s substance abuse policy, and rookie RB Jonathan Williams was arrested for DUI. Starting receiver Sammy Watkins (foot surgery) is expected to miss the beginning of camp, while top draft pick Lawson is expected to miss the first month of season after having shoulder surgery.

Expectations: The high hopes that followed Ryan’s hiring last year have been replaced by skepticism after Bills lacked consistency and looked nothing like the so-called bully coach proclaimed he would build.

Miami Dolphins (6-10)

Open camp: July 29, Davie, Fla.

Last year: For the seventh year in row, the Dolphins failed to finish above .500, triggering yet another round of turnover at the top. Coach Joe Philbin and coordinators were fired during the season, and General Manager Dennis Hickey departed afterward. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s play declined in his fourth season, and the defense was bad, ranking 28th against the run and allowing a franchise-record 4,000 net yards passing.

Important additions: DE Mario Williams, rookie G Laremy Tunsil, RB Arian Foster, LB Kiko Alonso, CB Bobby Maxwell, S Isa Abdul-Quddus.

Important losses: DEs Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby, CBs Brent Grimes, Brice McCain and Jamar Taylor, RB Lamar Miller, LB Kelvin Sheppard, WRs Rishard Matthews and Greg Jennings.

Camp needs: New Coach Adam Gase must find starters at both guard spots to solidify a perennially shaky offensive line. Jobs are also open at cornerback, defensive tackle and running back, where Jay Ajayi will compete with newcomer Arian Foster, a four-time Pro Bowler who said he has recovered from a torn Achilles tendon. DE Cameron Wake will also test a surgically repaired Achilles tendon. Tannehill will be given more latitude with play calling, and must get comfortable with Gase’s playbook.

Expectations: Dolphins were especially bad last year within the AFC East, where they were outscored, 74-31, by Bills, 65-34, by Jets and 46-27, by Patriots. That’s a lot of ground to make up in one season, and Miami would be doing well to win eight or nine games.

New York Jets (10-6)

Open camp: July 27, Florham Park, N.J.

Last year: Came within a win of making the playoffs in Coach Todd Bowles’s first season, but fell to former Coach Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills in the season finale. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick took over as the starter for Geno Smith, and set a franchise record with a career-best 31 TD passes. WR Brandon Marshall had team-record 109 catches for 1,502 yards and 14 TDs. DE Muhammad Wilkerson set career high with 12 sacks while anchoring stout D-line.

Important additions: RBs Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson, LT Ryan Clady, DL Jarvis Jenkins, NT Steve McLendon, LB Bruce Carter, WR Jeremy Ross, rookies LB Darron Lee, QB Christian Hackenberg, LB Jordan Jenkins.

Important losses: LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson, NT Damon Harrison, RB Chris Ivory, CBs Antonio Cromartie and Darrin Wells, LB Demario Davis, WR-PR Jeremy Kerley.

Camp needs: The biggest question is whether Fitzpatrick, locked in a contract stalemate, will re-sign before camp opens. After a solid offseason, Smith will get another chance at starting if Fitzpatrick doesn’t return. Can Forte, coming off career-low 898 yards with Bears, replace Ivory as the three-down lead back? Buster Skrine and Marcus Williams will compete for the spot opposite CB Darrelle Revis, who should be back from offseason wrist surgery.

Expectations: Uncertain status of Fitzpatrick makes it difficult to gauge potential of Jets, who have a difficult start to the regular season with games vs. Bengals, at Bills, at Chiefs, vs. Seahawks, at Pittsburgh and at Arizona.




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