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Patriots Omitted From PFF’s Perfect AFC East Team

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Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. Allen was selected for the perfect AFC East team, which included no New England Patriots representation. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Pro Football Focus has been “building the perfect team” from each NFL division based on their unit rankings. Each team consists of seven spots. One quarterback is chosen for each division, along with six units. Those groups are running backs, receiving corps, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, and secondary. No special teams unit was chosen. For the AFC East’s perfect team, the New England Patriots were not represented.

The New York Jets led the way with four selections, more than half the team. The Miami Dolphins landed representatives, while the Buffalo Bills added one. New England was the lone squad shutout.

Quarterback: Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Tough to argue with this pick. Josh Allen remains the best quarterback in the division and the primary reason Buffalo is attempting to win their fifth straight division title in 2024. He ranked No. 4 in their overall NFL QB rankings. Aaron Rodgers of the Jets (No. 8) and Tua Tagovailoa (No. 14) also ranked in the top half of the league’s quarterbacks.

Also Read – Rebuilding QB Room Ranked as Patriots Best Offseason Move

New England had Jacoby Brissett and Drake Maye listed as a combination. They were one of four teams without a clear starter at quarterback. The Patriots duo came in at No. 26 overall in the rankings, last in the AFC East.

Running Backs Unit: Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins twosome of Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane placed second overall in the NFL behind only Christian McCaffrey and the San Francisco 49ers. The Jets (No. 10) and Bills (No. 21) ranked ahead of the Patriots as well. PFF wrote in complimentary terms about Rhamondre Stevenson and Antonio Gibson, though ranked them No. 25. Once again, last in the division. PFF’s summary:

“Rhamondre Stevenson is a solid back who has yet to finish a single season with a rushing grade below 78.0. He has also averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry in all three of his NFL campaigns. He doesn’t bring a ton to the passing game, but that’s what the Patriots signed Antonio Gibson for. This group has a high floor but a low ceiling.”

Receiving Corps: Miami Dolphins

Miami’s offensive weapons continue to get the recognition they deserve. Tyreek Hill and Jayden Waddle are as solid of a receiving duo as exists in the NFL. Once again, the Dolphins ranked No. 2 in the entire league behind only the 49ers. The rest of the AFC East did not fare nearly as well. New York ranked No. 19 with Buffalo at No. 27. But even the Bills, like every other NFL franchise, ranked ahead of the New England Patriots (No. 32).

PFF’s assessment concluded of the Patriots, “This is a low-ceiling group for 2024. But the long-term outlook is decent.”

Offensive Line: New York Jets

The Jets earned their first nod on the AFC East’s perfect team via the offensive line. This was a weakness in 2023, but the team added veterans Tyron Smith and Morgan Mosses, drafted Olu Fashanu and got back Alijah Vera-Tucker from injury. The improvements skyrocketed New York to No. 5 in the overall rankings and first in the division. Buffalo (No. 8) cracked the top ten, with Miami (No. 18) in the middle of the pack.

New England ranked fourth among their AFC East peers once again. Of the four offensive roster spots, not only did the Patriots not place first in any, but they ranked dead last in all four. Having a starting left tackle (Chukwuma Okorafor) with two career snaps at left tackle was cited as a primary reason for the low ranking.

Defensive Line: New York Jets

PFF ranked the New York Jets defensive line as the NFL’s best. This places them atop the AFC East by a comfortable margin. It should be noted that edge rushers are counted as part of the defensive line. This means players like Matthew Judon of the New England Patriots are part of the defensive line rankings here instead of the linebackers.

Although the Patriots did not beat out the Jets, they did avoid the basement for the first time in the rankings. New England’s defensive line placed second in the division and No. 15 overall. The Bills (No. 16) and Dolphins (No. 25) round out the divisional rankings.

Linebackers: New York Jets

The Patriots continue to move up in the rankings but not enough to take a title. New England ranked fourth overall in the NFL, but once again New York topped the entire NFL rankings. The Jets duo of C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams are excellent. Good enough to edge out Jahlani Tavai (PFF’s highest-ranked AFC linebacker last season) and Ja’Whaun Bentley.

The Bills (No. 11) and Dolphins (No. 20) round out the AFC East linebacker rankings.

Secondary: New York Jets

The New York Jets complete a clean sweep of the defensive side of the ball. The Jets ranked first in the AFC East for all three defensive units and topped the entire NFL in all three categories. Sauce Gardner is arguably the best cornerback in football and leads an elite unit.

The Jets aren’t the only team in the division with an excellent secondary. Both the Buffalo Bills (No. 3) and Miami Dolphins (No. 5) ranked near the top of the league.

New England finished No. 21 in the secondary rankings. Pro Football Focus was complimentary of Christian Gonzalez, Jonathan Jones, and Jabrill Peppers in their commentary. They also state, “The 2024 season will be an interesting test case for how much Belichick’s magic was holding this defense afloat in the post-Tom Brady era.

The New England Patriots did not contribute to the “perfect AFC East team” created by Pro Football Focus. They ranked fourth out of four teams in five of the seven roster spots. Fortunately for Jerod Mayo and company, the games are played on the field. If New England wants to silence their critics and doubters the best way to do so is performing well on the field. Some solid performances make these projections nothing more than offseason talking points.

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