The New England Patriots are looking to make some noise in a very crowded AFC East this coming season.
While this division has been traditionally dominated by the Pats in recent years, their 7-9 slip-up in their first season without Tom Brady has opened the floodgates for the rest of the division to aggressively attempt to move up the standings.
The Buffalo Bills made it to the AFC Championship game last season thanks to Josh Allen’s breakout, while the Miami Dolphins were just one win away from the playoffs despite having a rookie quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa.
Even the moribund New York Jets have managed to successfully reboot.
The division is much rougher than it has been in past seasons, but that doesn’t mean New England should throw its hands in the air and concede defeat.
Every team in this division has one big weakness, and the Patriots could easily manage to end up exploiting those holes in order to once again stick it to their rivals and reclaim their title of division champions.
The one big weakness for every Patriots’ rival in the AFC East.
3. Miami Dolphins: Lack of consistent running game
For some reason, it’s become popular to rip on Tua Tagovailoa despite the fact he put up some efficient stats as a rookie without great weapons around him in addition to poor offensive play-calling. If there was one part of the offense that was genuinely rank, it was the lack of teeth in the backfield.
Under both Chad O’Shea, who was so bad at scheming up running back production that Ryan Fitzpatrick was the leading rusher in 2019, and Chan Gailey, Brian Flores is still looking for his next great back. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to attack that position very hard in the draft and let Matt Breida go to Buffalo.
The Dolphins’ running backs won’t threaten the Patriots.
Miami’s backfield will be the truest essence of a backfield by committee, as the combination of Myles Gaskin, former Ram Malcolm Brown, speedy UDFA Salvon Ahmed, and seventh-round pick Gerrid Doaks. Anyone quaking in their boots looking at that crew?
Miami is never going to properly support Tua unless they give him a running game that’s worth a damn. Gaskin can make some plays every now and again, but he’s not a three-down back in this league. New England’s secondary will make life tough on Tua, and he won’t be able to keep them honest on the ground.