By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Here’s something we don’t say often, but thank goodness for the Buffalo Bills.
If it weren’t for the Bills and their surprisingly solid 2-0 start to the football season, the AFC East would be looking like a total train wreck outside of New England this season.
That much has become quite clear after Week 2, with both the Jets and Dolphins taking big losses to fall to 0-2, and with both teams losing bodies. For one team, that’s by choice, and for the other, not so much.
The Dolphins, who have been outscored 102-10 this season, traded away defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, just one year after spending the 11th overall pick to select him in the 2018 NFL draft. Fitzpatrick (or his agent, or both) were smart enough to see that the Dolphins are in a complete teardown, so the 22-year-old requested a trade and had his wish granted in a hurry.
The Dolphins did pretty well in the deal, getting Pittsburgh’s 2020 first-round pick. The two teams also swapped some later-round picks in 2020 and 2021.
Fans in Miami may not be thrilled with the fact that their team might go 0-16 this season, but at the very least, the Dolphins front office is doing a solid job of stockpiling draft picks in the coming years. After the trades of Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills and Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins now own three first-round picks in 2020 and two first-round picks in 2021. They also have two second-round picks in each of the next two years.
Perhaps if the Dolphins draft really well, they can get players like Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, and Minkah Fitzpatrick with some of those draft picks.
In the interim, Miami might not have a legitimate shot to win a game until Week 15 at the Giants.
Speaking of New York, the Jets were so enamored with Adam Gase’s 23-25 record as Dolphins head coach that they went out and hired the guy this past offseason. They loved him and his offensive ingenuity, and matching him with Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell (even though Gase didn’t want him) was certain to be a hit.
While it’s not Gase’s fault that Darnold came down with mono and had to miss Monday night’s game, the offense is still leaving a bit to be desired through two games. The Jets have scored 19 total points, tied for the second-fewest in the NFL, better than only the lowly, lowly Dolphins.
It didn’t help that Trevor Siemian looked like a fish out of water on Monday night.
🚨 NERD ALERT 🚨 pic.twitter.com/cSxSBXC9EF
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) September 17, 2019
Getting his first game action since 2017, Siemian completed three of six passes for … three yards, while also taking a pair of sacks.
Some protection issues. pic.twitter.com/RJ6e15vkkK
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) September 17, 2019
Unfortunately, Siemian appeared to have suffered a broken ankle after getting walloped by Myles Garrett.
That left the Jets with their third-stringer, Luke Falk, at quarterback. Statistically, Falk seemingly did all right, going 20-for-25 for 199 yards. But Bill Belichick and Co. probably aren’t overly concerned with getting burned by Falk next Sunday at Gillette Stadium. (On the plus side, Falk is a No. 199 overall draft pick, so maybe, just maaaaaybe … OK no, we can’t finish that sentence with a straight face.)
Defensively, the Jets showed plenty of problems, despite limiting the Browns to a somewhat modest 23 points. For one, Gregg Williams’ dismissal of Odell Beckham Jr. as a dynamic football player sure came back to bite him, as the Jets allowed Beckham to part the Green and Black Sea for an 89-yard catch-and-run to officially put the game out of reach for the Jets.
Reporter: "[Odell] is one of the dynamic players in the league"
Gregg Williams: "That's your opinion…what did the Giants do?" pic.twitter.com/73QPtNYzdX
— Jets Videos (@snyjets) September 13, 2019
Baker Mayfield on Gregg Williams questioning whether or not Odell Beckham is a "dynamic" player pic.twitter.com/rAEfV1NmBF
— Jets Videos (@snyjets) September 17, 2019
The Jets also committed 12 penalties for 89 yards in the 23-3 loss to Cleveland. Jamal Adams committed a roughing the passer penalty on a third-down incompletion that led to a Browns field goal in the first quarter, and he was penalized on back-to-back plays — once for encroachment, once for offside — in the fourth quarter. The Jets took two false start penalties, a delay of game penalty, and they were called for a defensive holding penalty, which was declined.
Oh, the Jets also benched Trumaine Johnson, the cornerback whom they signed to a five-year, $72.5 million contract prior to the 2018 season.
“We just decided not to play him,” Gase nonchalantly said.
With the Jets now set to travel to Foxboro to face the best team in the NFL in a building where they haven’t won a regular-season game since Brett Favre bested Matt Cassel and Randy Moss in an overtime win on a Thursday night in 2008, the needle is pointing down. Way down.
losing to facing the Patriots in Week 3, the Jets have a gift from the heavens with a Week 4 bye. After that, though, they’ll travel to Philadelphia before hosting the Cowboys and Patriots. They have a good shot of being 0-6 when they head to Jacksonville in Week 8.
And then, in Week 9, the most magical of matchups will take place: Jets at Dolphins. The battle for AFC inferiority promises to be one for the ages.
(Side note: A general assumption that’s largely false is that the Patriots have always had an easy road to the playoffs because of the collective putridity of the AFC East. Facts show that such has rarely been the case, that the AFC East has more or less been comparable to move every other division over the past 20 years, and that the Patriots have had as difficult a road to the playoffs as any other team. This year, despite the collective 2-2 record outside of the division thus far, appears to be one of those years where the assumptions are proven true.)
(Another side note: This didn’t fit anywhere else, so here goes. The Patriots have scored 76 points thus far; the Bills, Jets, and Dolphins have combined to score 74 points thus far. Put another way, the Patriots have outscored the entire AFC East. Also, the Patriots have allowed three points this year; the Bills, Jets and Dolphins have combined to allow 172 points this year.)
But hey, the Bills are all right. They stormed back from a 16-0 deficit to punch the Jets in the stomach in Week 1, and they made it two straight wins in MetLife Stadium with a solid doubling up of the Giants in Week 2. After completing 52.8 percent of passes as a rookie, Josh Allen has completed 64.2 percent of his passes thus far in the young season. With 507 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, Allen isn’t exactly the second coming of Joe Montana. But with a defense that ranks sixth in yards allowed and fifth in points allowed, he doesn’t need to be.
The Bills should be able to handle the Bengals in Week 3, which would make them 3-0 and set up for a battle of unbeatens when the Patriots visit Orchard Park in Week 4. For the sake of appreciating competitive football games, most of the football world has to be rooting for the Bills to at the very least give the Patriots some trouble in that one. If not, the AFC East crown might as well be awarded to New England before the calendar turns to October. Because the Jets and Dolphins have already been unofficially eliminated.