The king of the AFC East for the past decade has been Tom Brady. The last two seasons the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins have all acquired new quarterbacks, hoping that these young players can dethrone Brady.
This season the Jets and Bills drafted new quarterbacks in the first 2 rounds of the NFL Draft. Last season Ryan Tannehill was drafted in the first round by the Dolphins. All three of these young quarterbacks were drafted for one reason, to beat the New England Patriots.
Geno Smith will enter training camp battling Mark Sanchez for the starting quarterback position. Smith was 7-6 last season at West Virginia University. He had over 4,000 yards passing last year and threw 42 touchdowns. Early in the season, Smith looked like the heavy favorite to win the Heisman trophy after throwing for 8 touchdowns against Baylor. After major defensive struggles for WVU, Smith and the Mountaineers dropped 5 straight games and got embarrassed by Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl. With new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg coming to New York, Smith looks like he is a good fit for the pass happy type of offense he brings over from Philadelphia. If Smith isn’t the starter week 1, he will be by the end of the season.
E.J. Manuel was the first quarterback drafted in this year’s NFL Draft. The Bills hope Manuel can be the franchise quarterback, something they haven’t had since Jim Kelly. Manuel struggled at times at Florida State and never seemed to get the one big win FSU needed to make a national championship run. New coach Doug Marrone hopes to develop Manuel into the starter, but he will have to beat out Kevin Kolb in training camp. Marrone’s career with the Bills will be linked to Manuel and his development. If Manuel doesn’t perform well within the first 2 seasons, Marrone can see his NFL coaching career end quickly.
Ryan Tannehill is coming off a solid rookie season. If it wasn’t for the outstanding play of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson, a lot more people would have noticed the play of Tannehill. If Tannehill can continue to progress and develop with all the new weapons the Dolphins acquired on offense, the Dolphins can be a serious threat to win the division this season.
All three of these young quarterbacks have the daunting task of trying to overtake the division that Tom Brady has owned for more than a decade. This year it looks unlikely that the Bills or Jets have a chance to compete for a division title but the Dolphins loaded up their roster to make a run at New England. These three young gun-slingers will have to progress quickly to compete in the AFC East.