The NFL season is scheduled to start as normal, though perhaps without fans in attendance at practices and games. Even though we may not be able to prepare for training camp, we know that teams everywhere are trying to put the finishing touches on their rosters going into camp. It’s a given that every team has at least one question on the roster to repair. Of course, the AFC East is no different and, as always with the Roundup, we take a glance at the areas we feel remain each team’s weakness.
Stephen Hauschka continually has the verbal support of head coach Sean McDermott and he remains a fan favorite, but there’s little doubt his play is the Bills’ biggest question mark heading into the 2020 season. Last year, he was in the bottom half of the league in field-goal percentage and was only 1 for 5 on kicks over 50 yards. To his credit he did make a very clutch kick at the end of regulation to force overtime during the Wild Card against the Houston Texans. Still, it’s possible age is catching up with him because he also missed some pretty important kicks during the regular season—take the Cleveland Browns game for example. It’s also possible that the injury he sustained during the 2018 season still affected him in 2019. Unfortunately for Hauschka, Buffalo may have put him on notice when they drafted Tyler Bass—who has a rocket for a leg—in the sixth round. Special teams plays a huge role throughout the course of a season so it’s important that the Bills fix the kicking game.
Rejuvenating the Linebacker Group
The Patriots had two major losses to their linebacker core in free agency. Jamie Collins was the team’s leading tackler last season with 81, and he also led the team in sacks with seven. Kyle Van Noy was second on the team with 6.5 sacks and made 56 tackles. The pair played dominant together and were a huge reason for New England’s success as one of the top defenses in the league during 2019. It’s fairly safe to say losing Collins and Van Noy will have a large impact on the defense in 2020. To counteract their departures, the team drafted linebackers Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings last month. Now, the Patriots will take on the difficult task of making up the production lost when Collilns and Van Noy left.
No. 2 Receiver
At the end of last season receiver DeVante Parker really stepped up, showing off the skills needed to be a top target in the league. He ended up finishing the season with over 1200 yards and nine touchdowns, which both led the team. However, after Parker things are less certain at wide receiver. It was tight end Mike Gesicki who finished second on the team with over 500 yards and five touchdowns. What the Dolphins lack is that number-two target lining up outside to draw the defense. Interestingly, Miami didn’t draft a wide receiver until the seventh round, when they selected Malcolm Perry out of Navy. If teams are able to take away Parker then it will again be tough for the Dolphins’ offense to move the chains unless they address this issue.
Faith in Adam Gase
The biggest hole for the Jets may simply be related to the faith (or lack thereof) the team has in their head coach. Gase hasn’t been impressive since hired in January 2019. There have been multiple issues involving him, whether it was his comments about the Le’Veon Bell signing or Darnold getting upset with him during games last season. Then there were the rumors of the team shopping Jamal Adams, which did not make their star defensive player happy. There is talent on the Jets’ roster but a team needs to be all-in with its leader—and that may not be the case with Adam Gase. Last season they showed it in flashes, like when they defeated the Dallas Cowboys for their first win of the season. However, things could turn sour fast if the team loses a couple of games to start 2020.