AFC East Notes: Bills, Jets, Patriots

     

Bills

  • Per Adam Schein of Mad Dog Sports Radio, Bills HC Sean McDermott made it clear the team is expecting another step forward from QB Josh Allen as they enter a season where Buffalo could be the favorite to win the AFC East: “Most times, how the quarterback goes is how the team goes. Josh is very aware of that in his responsibilities.” 

Jets

  • Per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, Jets assistant GM Rex Hogan said they were drawn to first-round OT Mekhi Becton because of his immense size and physicality: “The guy moves people like furniture.”
  • Becton says he prides himself on finishing plays, which was drilled into him by Louisville’s new coaching staff going into his junior season: “I think my demeanor is real nasty. I like to see the man on the ground stay on the ground. When I finish him, I like to get on top.”

Patriots

For the first time in 20 years, the Patriots have started OTA’s without QB Tom Brady on the roster. Patriots S Devin McCourty said the start of New England’s offseason program, even if it was virtual, was a welcome way to finally start the next stage as a team. 

“One of the biggest things we have to do as a team, and as players individually, is move on, lock in, and get focused on life without Tom,” McCourty said on ESPN Radio. “Not just to harp on it, and talk about it, but to actually move on and try to prepare. I think the virtual meetings have been good for us to start that process.”

The monumental task of being the next Patriots starting quarterback after Brady seems like it will fall to 2019 fourth-round QB Jarrett Stidham after New England has passed up the chance to add a passer in what’s been an unusually strong free-agent and draft class. That could speak to how much faith the team has in Stidham, and his former coach at Auburn, Gus Malzahn, explains why. 

“It definitely helped him to learn under the best and see what that looks like, but he’s the kind of young man, too, this is what he’s been waiting on. I’ll tell you, the moment won’t be too big for him. He’ll be up to the challenge, that’s what I expect,” Malzahn said via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “Even when he got here, before he played his first game, you could just kind of tell he was a mature young man. Like a gym rat, always at the complex trying to learn, study film. When he got drafted by the Patriots [in 2019], I thought it was a perfect spot for him system-wise — spreading the field. He’s so good with protections, changing protections, and scheme-wise everything that goes with it, and just the flexibility the scheme gives him. I think that really applies to his strength.”

  • Malzahn also gave his assessment of former Auburn DL Nick Coe, who has a chance to make the team in New England as an undrafted free agent: “He can play inside. He can play outside. He can play off the ball. He’s an athletic dude. Strong. He’s probably as talented out of anybody that came out of this draft; he has to be up there. He had a few things this year that I really think he’ll overcome and grow and all that. He could be one of those diamond-in-the-rough type of players.”
  • He also said former WR Will Hastings has a chance after converting from kicker in college: “The first year, his first game right off the bat against Clemson, he played real well. He owns the school record in the 5-10-5 in the ‘L’ drill (three-cone drill). He’s unbelievably quick, and as good a double-move guy as I’ve ever seen. He can get open on those option routes. That’s a real good fit for him with that system.”
  • An NFL scout told Reiss Patriots undrafted free agent WR Jeff Thomas likely would have been drafted if he had not been kicked off Miami’s football team last year. 
  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer points out the Cowboys’ one-year, $7 million deal for QB Andy Dalton should indicate how little interest the Jaguars and Patriots had in the veteran, as both teams would have given a much greater chance for playing time. 
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