Four AFC East websites get together each week to discuss the AFC East. This week we give our division awards for the first quarter of the season. The AFC East has its share of storylines through the first quarter of the season. The New England Patriots are at the top of the division once again at 3-0. The New York Jets have gotten off to a surprising 3-1 start. The Buffalo Bills have been inconsistent at 2-2 and the Miami Dolphins have already fired head coach Joe Philbin after getting off to a 1-3 start. See what Matt Barbato of New York Jet Fuel, Ian Logue of PatsFans.com, Steve Saslow of Bills Daily, and Luis Sung of Phin Maniacs has to say right here.
Steve Saslow (@BillsDaily): Offensive MVP – Tom Brady
This is no contest. He is a man on the mission after he feels he was “wronged” by the deflategate scandal. He is the MVP of the division and the MVP of the entire league. He is why the Patriots are the best team in football.
Defensive MVP – Darrelle Revis
Revis is the key to a solid Jets defense. He is the lockdown corner he always has been and continues to be. That allows the Jets to move coverage in other directions and leave Revis on the oppponent’s best receiver and take him out of the game almost completely. Nice option to have back from Gang Green.
Best coach – Bill Belichick
He has been the best coach in the division for what seems like forever. He continues to be the best coach in the division. He has his team united and fired up as they continue to dominate the entire league.
Biggest surprise – Miami
No contest here either. Miami was supposed to battle the Bills for second place and they have been so bad they actually fired their coach four games into the season. That is a rare thing to happen in the NFL. Honorable Mention goes to the Jets for their solid 3-1 start.
Luis Sung (@PhinManiacs): Offensive MVP – Chris Ivory
No, I’m not trying to be a contrarian by not picking Tom Brady, I’m well aware of what the Patriots quarterback has done since beating the NFL in court. He’s out to prove something. Fair enough. However, the Patriots have proven that they can without Brady at the helm, as evidenced in 2008 with Matt Cassel. As for the New York Jets however, I firmly believe that the heartbeat of their offense is Chris Ivory.
The 27-year old running back is averaging five yards a carry for the Jets this season, and it doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me that the Jets are 3-1, with the only loss being the game against the Philadelphia Eagles when he didn’t play. Ivory is a bruising back who drags three guys with him when running. Consider him a poor man’s Marshawn Lynch. We’re always so quick to place blame and credit the quarterback when teams fail or succeed, but I believe that without Ivory, defense or no, the Jets would not be in the position they are now.
Defensive MVP – Darrelle Revis
What can I say about Revis that hasn’t already been said? They don’t call him Revis Island for nothing. He effectively shuts down a whole side of the field and forces a QB to deal with only having one half of a relatively safe field to throw in, and even then it’s not really that safe. Again, I am a team guy and believe the whole defense for the Jets is excellent, but Revis isn’t one of the best in the league just by reputation.
Best coach – Bill Belichick
I really don’t like this man. I never have and I never will. But I cannot deny that he is a coaching genius and his ability as a coach is beyond anyone else in the NFL. He consistently finds ways (no I’m not referring to cheating) to win games even when everything is going against him. He can pick out weaknesses in other teams, ensures that no matter who is on the offensive line, Brady is protected, can make somebodies out of nobodies. There are very few coaches who can do that, and as I much as I don’t like Belichick, I cannot deny his genius as a coach.
Biggest surprise – Miami Dolphins
Sigh, my Dolphins. The hype machine tricked the fanbase into believing the Dolphins had arrived. We had signed the best defensive tackle in football, surrounded Ryan Tannehill with weapons that fit what he was good at, it was their time! Not even Joe Philbin could stop this team from winning!
Wrong. Joe Philbin and his coaching staff managed to take some of the greatest players in the league (Suh, Brent Grimes) and turn them into dead husks who were mere shadows of their former selves. There was no fire, no passion, no desire to go out and fight. Players and coaches went at it with each other about the best way to do things. Coaches remained stuck in their ways and refused to change even when the same thing failed again and again. But there is hope now with interim head coach Dan Campbell.
Will Campbell be able to perform miracles? Probably not. But if nothing else, it’s already been made abundantly clear that Campbell is determined to do things differently, he wants to play smashmouth football and be intense, rather than conservative. Hey, it’s a start.
Matt Barbato (@NewYorkJetFuel): Offensive MVP – Tom Brady
Is there anyone even close to deserving this award more than Brady? The Pats quarterback is on the “bleep you” tour and doesn’t care who gets in his way. Brady’s thrown for 1,112 yards and nine touchdowns in three games. He has no interceptions. He is devouring everyone in his path. Do not mess with Tom Brady this season.
Defensive MVP – Darrelle Revis
Revis transforms defenses. The Jets were horrendous in passing defense a year ago, now they’re fourth in the league with 742 passing yards allowed in four games. Opposing quarterbacks are completing 51.1 percent of their passes against the Jets. That’s the lowest completion percentage in the league. Revis has allowed nine completions on 20 targets in coverage. The Eagles and Dolphins have completed just one pass on five targets against Revis the past two weeks. Revis makes the Jets defense significantly better and that cannot be said about any other player in the division.
Best coach – Todd Bowles
Bill Belichick would be the conventional answer, but nothing the Patriots are doing is all that surprising. Bowles has dealt with a slew of injuries, the Sheldon Richardson incident, the Geno Smith/IK Enemkpali incident, a trip to Indianapolis and a trip to London and has the Jets at 3-1. Nobody expected the Jets to go 3-1 through the first four games. Heck, they could be 4-0 if they didn’t stub their toe against Philadelphia. The highs and lows with Rex Ryan are still occurring in Buffalo (just compare the Bills’ past two games) and Joe Philbin is gone. Bowles has his team in a position to contend for a playoff berth in his first season.
Biggest surprise – Miami
Many expected Miami to be a nine or 10 win club. The Dolphins have sorely disappointed and are already making changes for the future. Ndamukong Suh hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t transformed Miami’s defense. Miami’s offensive line is atrocious and the offense hinges on Ryan Tannehill evading constant pressure and throwing to a shoddy group of receivers. Interim head coach Dan Campbell won’t fix much in South Beach.
Ian Logue (@PatsFans): OFFENSIVE MVP: NY Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
It’s easy to hand the MVP to Tom Brady given his incredible start and the Patriots 3-0 record, but given the amount of talent New England has offensively compared to the rest of the Division, as well as how consistent Brady has been over the years, it’s difficult to call what he’s done a complete surprise. However, since we’re talking about who has been “most valuable” to the success of their offense, it’s hard not to hand the award to Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick at this point in the season, but, then again, that’s probably also why MVP awards aren’t handed out over four games.
Fitzpatrick has helped the Jets rebound from a 4-12 record in 2014 into a club that will go as far as the mistakes he doesn’t make. He hasn’t lit the world on fire having thrown seven touchdowns and six interceptions, but in games where he’s played relatively mistake-free football, he’s been a steady presence who has been a key to their success through quarter one of the season. As a result, it should set up an interesting decision when Geno Smith is eventually healthy but make no mistake, the Jets likely wouldn’t be in this position without what Fitzpatrick has done thus far – ugly mustache and all.
DEFENSIVE MVP: NY Jets CB Darrelle Revis
Coming off of a Super Bowl season and a monster contract given to him to come back to his old team, it’s been business as usual for Darrelle Revis in New York. He’s off to another great start having already totaled two interceptions, and he’s also recovered an NFL best 3 fumbles. Last season with Revis in the mix New England Patriots fans saw elevated play from everyone in their secondary and that trend, so far, seems to be the case in New York. Four players have tallied interceptions at this point in the season for the Jets, with Marcus Williams joining Revis with two picks. Five defensive backs also have multiple passes defensed, lead by Williams (4), Marcus Gilchrist (3), Revis (2), Buster Skrine (2) and Antonio Cromartie (2). He’s a player who makes guys around him better and they’re certainly playing well through four games.
BEST COACH: NY Jets Todd Bowles
This is a funny category considering how good we all know Bill Belichick is, so the Patriots’ coach is another one who should have been the obvious answer given New England’s fast start. But Bowles inherited a 4-12 team that was a mess and had very few expecting much from them in 2015. He’s got the Jets playing good football and they’re right in the thick of the Division at 3-1 with a showdown and a shot to be in first place potentially looming against New England in two weeks if both clubs take care of business before they meet.
You can make the argument that they haven’t played anyone yet given their wins against teams like the Browns (1-3), Colts (2-2) and Dolphins (1-3), but timely plays on defense and an offense that is doing enough to win is about all you can ask and Bowles and his staff are a big reason why the Jets are finally heading in the right direction.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: Miami Dolphins
If you watched HBO’s Hard Knocks three seasons ago, it was hard not to root for Joe Philbin when you look at the type of person he is. He’s a good guy with terrific integrity and just a good overall person. The only problem? That seemed to work against him in terms of whether or not the players respected him because they certainly didn’t respond or fight well enough to keep him here after watching the way everything unravelled and fell completely apart at the hands of the Jets this past weekend. Given the addition of Ndamukong Suh to an already talented defensive front, Miami was expected to be a scary group that would be disruptive up front while quarterback Ryan Tannehill would hopefully take the next step in taking the offense to the next level. Instead, Miami has taken a giant step backwards in what had been expected to be a pivotal season. Unfortunately, now it’s definitely pivotal, just for the wrong reason. At this point they’re a team at a crossroads with 12 games to go and it’s going to be interesting to see if newly promoted interim coach Dan Campbell can bring this team together and get them back in contention.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary