This is part one of a four part series for all four teams in the AFC East.The young quarterback chase is on in the AFC East as Josh Rosen (Miami), Sam Darnold (New York), and Josh Allen (Buffalo) battle to determine the next great quarterback in this division that has been dominated by 6-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady (New England). But, while the Bills coaching staff has remained intact this offseason, the Dolphins, Jets, and Patriots have swapped some of their coaches with Adam Gase moving from Miami to New York and Brian Flores moving from New England to Miami. With these coaching changes, could Josh Allen be the one to challenge Tom Brady over the next few seasons while Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen are learning under their new head coaches?With preseason training camps almost here, each AFC East team has questions to answer on both sides of the football. I will give my opinion on two questions for each team (one concerning the offense, one concerning the defense) to keep an eye on during the regular season this year.
1. Can new quarterback coach Ken Dorsey turn Josh Allen into a Pro Bowl quarterback and how will rookie running back Devin Singletary fit into Buffalo’s veteran backfield?
When Ken Dorsey was an All-American quarterback at the University of Miami in 2002, Josh Allen was a young Fresno State football fan with dreams of playing the game he loved to watch with his family in Firebaugh, California. Over the next decade, Dorsey and Allen experienced similar football paths with Dorsey struggling as a backup quarterback while Allen tried to prove his favorite football team wrong after receiving no scholarships from any FBS/FCS team out of high school. But, after Dorsey transformed Cam Newton into a dual threat league MVP quarterback in 2015 and Allen’s MVP performance in the 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl as the starting quarterback for the University of Wyoming, both of their careers were on the rise and they are now ready to meet for the first time in Bills training camp.
With Dorsey’s experience as a backup quarterback under Pro Bowl QB’s Jeff Garcia in San Francisco as well as Derek Anderson in Cleveland and his development of Cam Newton into a league MVP in 2015 as the Panthers quarterback coach, Allen could be a surprise candidate for the Pro Bowl this season while throwing to new teammates Cole Beasley from Dallas and John Brown from Baltimore. But, while the Bills quarterback situation may have a promising future, one of Buffalo’s draft picks is in a crowded depth chart full of veterans looking to take his spot on the Bills roster. In the third round of this year’s NFL draft, the Bills selected running back Devin Singletary from Florida Atlantic.
As a sophomore in 2017, Singletary was named C-USA MVP and became the first FAU player to be named an AP All-American after leading all FBS schools in rushing touchdowns with 32 and finished the season with 2,116 scrimmage yards (1,918 rushing). After his record setting sophomore campaign, Singletary finished his junior season in 2018 as C-USA’s rushing champion with 1,348 yards and scored 22 rushing TD’s to earn his second straight first team All C-USA selection. However, despite finishing his career at FAU as the school’s all time leader in rushing yards (4,287 yards) and touchdowns (66 rushing TD’s), Singletary’s role with the Bills could be limited in his rookie season as he will battle Pro Bowl running backs LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore as well as former Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon for playing time. But, if Singletary performs well in the preseason, the Bills will have a tough decision to make when they finalize the 53-man roster in September.
When Kyle Williams led the Bills to a 9-7 record in 2014 for their first winning season in a decade, Ed Oliver was named MVP of his high school conference with 84 tackles and seven sacks while playing at Westfield High School in Texas (a half hour drive from the University of Houston). Three years later, Williams led the Bills to their first playoff appearance in 18 years while Oliver became the first Houston Cougar to win the Outland Trophy (best interior lineman in college football). But, shortly after playing in his sixth Pro Bowl last December, Kyle Williams announced his retirement and this April, the Bills drafted Ed Oliver with the 9th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
As a three time All-American, Ed Oliver has the ability to become one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL and will be joining a veteran defensive line unit led by defensive ends Jerry Hughes as well as Shaq Lawson and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. With another veteran joining the Bills defense in defensive end Eli Harold (a free agent from Detroit), Oliver could learn a lot from his teammates and develop into a potential star to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award this season. However, even with these new additions, Leslie Frazier still has some holes to fill on defense and needs to find the next captain to lead the Bills after Williams’ retirement.
Since his retirement following Super Bowl XX as a key component of the legendary 46 defense of the Chicago Bears, Leslie Frazier’s coaching career has been a journey across seven different NFL teams including four stops as a defensive coordinator with the Bengals, Vikings, Buccaneers, and the Bills. Frazier has worked with some of the best defensive minded head coaches in the NFL including Tony Dungy, Marvin Lewis, Lovie Smith as well as John Harbaugh, but he has struggled to put a solid, consistent defense on the field after his firing from Minnesota at the end of the 2013 season.
However, Frazier turned the Bills passing defense around last year going from 20th in the league in 2017 to 1st in 2018 and he has the chance to do the same with the rushing defense this year with the additions of Ed Oliver, Eli Harold, Maurice Alexander (a free agent linebacker from Seattle) and 5th round pick Vosean Joseph (a linebacker from Florida) as well as 7th round pick Darryl Johnson (a defensive end from North Carolina A&T). Frazier’s passing defense could also have a repeat season with the additions of Kevin Johnson (cornerback from the Texans), E.J. Gaines (cornerback from the Browns), and 6th round pick Jaquan Johnson (a 2017 All-American safety from the University of Miami).
Sources: 6 things to know about new Bills QB coach Ken Dorsey https://www.buffalobills.com/news/bills-hire-ken-dorsey-as-quarterbacks-coach-name-chad-hall-wide-receivers-coach https://www.buffalobills.com/team/players-roster/ https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/sports/football/nfl/bills/2018/07/19/josh-allen-buffalo-bills-quarterback-first-round-nfl-draft-pick-university-wyoming-firebaugh-farm/783231002/ https://fausports.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=662 https://hurricanesports.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=7935 https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/free-agents/buffalo-bills/ https://uhcougars.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4518