Joining me for some sort of conversation about the AFC East are Christian Langlois and Joe Lederman:
Christian Langlois: Rex Ryan has gone from the Jets to the Bills, and the Bills signed the guy who broke the Jets’ QB’s jaw like two days later, so maybe Ryan had gotten to the guy ahead of time and they had worked out a plan. Maybe that’s how Ryan plans to win the division, by infiltrating other locker rooms with double agents.
Bryan Harvey: Huh, if you’re correct, then Rex Ryan is a diabolical genius. In a division that already features a Cold War head of state in Bill Belichick, Rex Ryan may be even more awful. Was he working for the Bills the last four years? Did he intend to go 8-8, 6-10, 8-8, and then 4-12 with the Jets? Did he order the butt fumble? Can we handle the truth about Rex Ryan? Does his team have a chance with no real quarterback?
Joe Lederman: The team might find something at quarterback. They have plenty of options at trying to find a 25 touchdown and 11 interception guy.
Bryan Harvey: You think they have someone who can have a touchdown to pick ratio of 2 to 1?
Joe Lederman: I don’t know. I’m hopeful.
Bryan Harvey: Who do you think the starter will be?
Joe Lederman: The starting QB job will come down to Captain Check Down, Matt Cassel, versus T-Mobile, Tyrod Taylor.
Bryan Harvey: What about EJ Manuel?
Joseph Lederman: He's handled himself the best way possible in a very awkward situation. Hopefully he's increased his trade value so he can make it with another team. But he's not going to be the starter and they'll keep Cassel as a solid back up in case Taylor stumbles.
Christian Langlois: When you have QBs as weak as the Bills have, espionage really might be the only viable way to succeed.
Bryan Harvey: If the AFC East really has plunged into Cold War paranoia, then perhaps the Bills can make up for mediocre leadership at the quarterback position and overblown rhetoric from their coach with a surplus of stealth spy planes and satellite technology. In other words, they do potentially have the skillsets of LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, and Sammy Watkins at their disposal.
Joe Lederman: They also have a defense.
CL: They’re actually pretty good.
JL: The offensive line is questionable.
BH: Yeah, but that hasn’t seemed to slow Ryan Tannehill down during the preseason.
CL: In the division, they should finish second.
BH: They do seem poised to turn a corner. Before losing 3 of their last 4 games at the end of last season, they were 7-5. A 10-6 season was just as easily within reach as the mediocre 8-8 they ended up with.
JL: Thoughts on the defense?
BH: Part of me will miss hatewatching Ndamukong Suh play two times a year against the Packers, but this division really is the perfect place for him. This is the division of Belichick. Suh’s after the play stomps and cheap shots seem to share an affinity with Belichick’s talent for deceit, although the latter is more the product of shrewd cleverness while the former is the product of infantile tantrums. In some fashion, playing against Suh twice a year for the rest of his career may be Tom Brady’s real punishment for Deflate Gate.
BH: I’ve said too much about them already. I’ll defer to you guys.
JL: If anything, Brady’s (for now) suspension should transform the first four weeks into a war of attrition.
CL: It’s hard to doubt the Patriots. In Belichick we trust.
BH: I love the idea of trusting the man that no one else can trust. This really is the stuff of Crime Noir. Instead of the Lombardi Trophy, the Patriots should have been given the Maltese Falcon.
CL: Even if Brady ends up sitting four games, the Patriots will win the division.
BH: Yeah, talk of their demise always seems premature, like saying the Spurs are too old in basketball.
CL: Plus, whenever Brady plays, he’s going to have a chip on his shoulder, and he has weapons to catch the ball. I also expect Malcolm Butler is going to follow up his Super Bowl-saving interception with a season that proves he’s just as good as Revis.
BH: In keeping with the Cold War analogy, if this team finally does crumble, it won’t occur due to outside forces. It’ll have to happen from within, right? Sometimes I wonder if a truly unleashed Gronk would act as New England’s Gorbachev.
New York Jets
CL: They have a new coach and they have Darelle Revis, but it’s hard to take them seriously when they have a locker room fight that knocks their starting quarterback out for 6 to 10 weeks.
JL: Ryan Fitzpatrick.
BH: Yeah, I think we’re done here.
Bryan Harvey tweets @LawnChairBoys. Christian Langlois coaches and teaches in Massachusetts. Joe Lederman is a counseling director in Virginia, outside DC.