Previously on the AFC East Roundup, we discussed how the quarterbacks in the division along with the defenses for each team would have a huge impact on what team would take the division crown. Something else to consider as we look at the games from Week 4 is that the AFC East may also be determined by how great the offensive line for each team plays. Let’s look into this further.
In Orchard Park, NY, the Buffalo Bills were able to regain control of the division at 3-1 when they defeated the Miami Dolphins 48-20 to push them to 3-1 as well. Yes, quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs were studs, but this game boiled down to the offensive lines of both teams. When Miami was on offense, the offensive line wasn’t giving quarterback Tua Tagovailoa enough time to progress through his reads. If the first read wasn’t open, Tagovailoa would either find himself on his backside or scrambling for his life. He was sacked four times on the afternoon after only being sacked one time the previous three weeks combined.
On the other side, when Buffalo was on offense, Josh Allen had the time that he needed to find his open receivers. Buffalo’s offensive line aided the offense in having 104 yards on the ground — and if you look at it film, they were dominant in pass protection. One of the struggles for the offense in past seasons for the Bills is the offensive line giving Allen or running backs openings. They had a tough going at times against the Jets to start the season, but since then they have been fantastic while facing some pretty good pass rushers — and these lineman are a huge reason that Buffalo was able to turn things around.
The New England Patriots took a beating from the Dallas Cowboys, losing by a score of 38-3. It’s difficult, as always, to put the loss solely on the offensive line but they didn’t help matters. Dallas only had two sacks on the day but were in the face of quarterback Mac Jones all game long and generating turnovers. The offensive line wasn’t making an impact in the running attack as Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliot combined for only 46 yards on 20 carries. On the season, the Patriots rank in the bottom half of the league with the rushing attack. If this team wants to get into contention, the line has to improve to make it easier on everyone else.
In New York, the Jets tried to make a comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs but it was too little too late in the end, as the defense couldn’t get the ball back to the offense. The Jets’ offensive line has been playing up and down on the season but did a pretty decent job against the Chiefs’ pass rush, only allowing two sacks. In the rushing attack, the line was able to open some holes with the team rushing for 108 yards — which opened up the play-action attack for the offense. With Zach Wilson at quarterback, opposing defenses have narrowed in on stopping the run. However, if the offensive line can continue to improve to get the running game going consistently, then it will open up a plethora of other options for the passing game.