We are still a ways away from the start of actual NFL training camp practices and players are chomping at the bit to get back to work. However, no team will head into camp in perfect condition and ready to begin the regular season. They all have a major question that needs to be addressed—and this week on the AFC East Roundup we discuss just that as it pertains to the division.
Can Josh Allen take the next step?
It has been the common narrative for the Buffalo Bills this off season but it still rings true in almost every topic that is brought up about the team. The Bills will go as far as Josh Allen can take them, and he has to take the next step for the team to see the fruits of its labor. Last year he showed some improvement in his accuracy and decision making. On the flip side, there were times where he had a lot of fumbles when getting hit and even a couple that occurred right after he was declared down. We all know Allen’s accuracy on deep balls wasn’t great, ranking as the NFL’s worst quarterback on passes that traveled more than 20 yards in the air. Fortunately, since his misses were mostly long, there was no chance those passes could be intercepted. Allen has the chance to prove his doubters wrong this season with huge games against the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers in prime time. If he can take that next step then this team will be one to fear in 2020 and beyond.
Will we see Tua Tagovailoa?
The Dolphins have been looking for their next franchise quarterback for a long time now and may have finally found him when they drafted Tua Tagovailoa in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. At Alabama, Tua showed that he has all the talents to be a top player in the league. He won a national championship and accumulated 87 touchdowns against only 11 interceptions during his time in college. The issue is that Tua’s coming off a very serious hip injury that cut his season short last season. The question becomes if Miami will risk putting him on the field or if they let him rest and observe the season to prepare for the future, as the team once again has multiple first-round picks in 2021. Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick is currently the starter and he’s not a bad mentor for Tua, but the team hasn’t ruled out the idea of playing Tua this season if he shows command of the offense.
Can Sam Darnold show why he was a top pick?
Much like the Buffalo Bills, the Jets have a quarterback going into his third year in Sam Darnold. Darnold has shown promise at times but still needs to take that next step to be in the group of best quarterbacks in the league. Last season, he passed for just over 3000 yards with 19 touchdowns. However, he also had 13 interceptions which is a number that the team would like to see go down some this season. The reason this season is important for Darnold is because there are some great quarterbacks such as Trevor Lawrence that are coming out of college next season that the team could have their eyes on if they feel like picking a new face of the franchise.
How will the team handle the Covid Opt-Outs?
Bill Belichick can be considered the best coach in the history of the game and is a lock for the Hall of Fame. This season will be the toughest test that he will have since becoming a head coach and it is not just because of Tom Brady moving on from the team. Currently, the Patriots have had eight players opt out of the upcoming season including some big names on defense. Their inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower elected to put his family first and sit out the season alongside safety Patrick Chung which leaves some gaping holes on defense. Also, starting tackle Marcus Cannon is among the players that chose to make their health a priority this season. The Patriots are always known to have a deep roster but this season more than anything that is something that will be tested.