The AFC East looks to be somewhat of a wide-open race this year. Here is a breakdown of the signal callers that will be looking to lead their team to a division title in 2020.
AFC East Quarterback Projections
Starter: Josh Allen
AFC Rank: 8th
Projected Backup: Matt Barkley
Depth: Jake Fromm
Cut: Davis Webb
Analysis: The Bills continue to build around sometimes very inaccurate, Josh Allen. This could finally be the year that Buffalo ascends to the top of the AFC East after Tom Brady left New England for the likes of the gulf coast in Florida. Josh Allen is clearly the guy the Bills believe will lead them back into contention. Allen led the Bills to their first 10-win season since 1999 last year. After a solid offseason, he has the weapons to do it again with hopes of winning the AFC East. There’s little pressure on him this year as he has two more seasons before he can negotiate a new deal.
Starter: Ryan Fitzpatrick
AFC Rank: 10th
Projected Backup: Tua Tagovailoa
Depth: Josh Rosen
Cut: Jake Rudock
Analysis: Expect Tua to slide into the starting role as soon as Miami is sure that he is 100% and has command of this young offense. Josh Rosen is arguably the most talented 3rd-string option at QB in the league. Things are looking up for Miami and they could be set with viable options at the QB position for the next decade with Tua and Rosen. If the season were to get pushed back due to COVID, it could time up perfectly for Tua to jump right into the starting role with a few additional weeks to get back into game condition.
Starter: Jarrett Stidham/Cam Newton
AFC Rank: 15th
Projected Backup: Brian Hoyer
Depth: J’Mar Smith
Cut: Brian Lewerke
Analysis: New England initially made it clear that they were confident that Jarrett Stidham is ready to lead the offense in 2020. That message changed when the six-time champions added a former NFL MVP to their roster. If one thing is for certain, it’s that Bill Belichick usually knows more than the rest of the league and is a few steps ahead when it comes to scouting and developing potential. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If the season were to start tomorrow, Stidham would likely be the starter due to his understanding and ability to operate the offense. Few would argue that Stidham is a better player than Cam Newton, even with his injury history and aging athletic dominance.
The question now becomes, do you build toward the future and see if Stidham can get things rolling early on with the insurance of having Newton ready to take the reigns at the first sign of trouble? It’s likely that as the COVID pandemic continues to force the league to make adjustments to procedures and schedules that training camp and install will look quite different this year. Who does that give the advantage to? Will a year learning behind Tom Brady allow Jarrett Stidham to take the field as the starter week 1? Whatever takes place it is certainly not likely that either player will have a long leash if the offense gets off to a sluggish start.
Starter: Sam Darnold
AFC Rank: 9th
Projected Backup: James Morgan
Depth: David Fales
Cut: Mike White
Analysis: At times Darnold looks good enough to lead the Jets to a winning season, but is he good enough to be a franchise quarterback who can be competitive in the playoffs? A lot remains to be seen at the QB position in New York, another year of sub-par play leading to a top-five pick and New York may be looking to rebuild in a direction that doesn’t include a second contract for Sam Darnold. Last year, during Darnold’s illness, the Jets displayed some of the worst quarterback play the league has seen in a long time. They made sure to tighten things up by drafting James Morgan this past April.
Don’t expect Morgan to compete for 1st team reps or even put pressure on Darnold. He’s most likely to develop into a quality backup and not a starter. If things don’t work out for Darnold in New York, look for the team to move on and take a QB if they end up having an early selection in 2021. I think Darnold gets them through the year with a record just slightly below .500. That looks to make the decision quite difficult for what is likely to be a new staff in 2021.
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