With Tom Brady now out of the AFC East for the first time in more than 20 years, the division is truly a wide-open race. The division is now led by young upstarts such as Tua Tagovailoa, Josh Allen, Sam Darnold and Jarrett Stidham.
How much did Brady dominate the AFC as a member of the New England Patriots? The answer is as much as one quarterback could possibly dominate a division within a 20-year time frame. Since becoming the starter in 2001, Brady won the AFC East every year with the exception of 2002 and 2008. We all know in 2008, Brady suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1. So realistically speaking, there was only one year where the Patriots QB failed in his quest to lead New England to a division title.
With the Patriots quite possibly entering 2020 as the worst team in the AFC East, that means there’s now room for a new dominant quarterback. The Miami Dolphins’ Tagovailoa obviously has the highest upside of any of the aforementioned quarterbacks.
But who will really have the best career among Tua, Allen and Darnold?
Why Tagovailoa Should Dominate the AFC East
The answer to this question is simple — it’s Tagovailoa. While there are no shortage of skeptics due to his injury history, no QB in this division possesses as much talent as the former Alabama standout. There’s a reason the Dolphins spent a No. 5 draft pick on the former National Champion despite the fact he played only one full season in college.
He’s a dual-threat quarterback (a necessity these days) who thrived in the toughest conference in the nation in the SEC. He has the arm talent to make all of the throws and he has such quick-moving feet that he has the ability to re-set with no problem.
The only real knack on Tagovailoa is his injury history. Here the thing — the Dolphins have Brian Flores as their head coach. And being a disciple of the Bill Belichick tree, you better believe he knows what he’s doing. He watched Brady dominate the AFC East for years and with the exception of the 2008 season, New England has managed to keep Brady healthy throughout his entire career.
With a stout offensive line and a complementary running game, the Dolphins shouldn’t have an issue keeping Tagovailoa upright. Miami drafted offensive tackle Austin Jackson to protect Tagovailoa’s blindside for the next decade. Meanwhile, they added running backs Matt Breida and Jordan Howard to give the team a proper running game.
Ryan Fitzpatrick will be 38 years old this season and it’s conceivable that he could be beat out in training camp by the rookie quarterback.
Allen is a quality quarterback, but he lacks the ability to take over games with his arm. He isn’t a dominant quarterback and while his dual-threat ability is nice, he’s not a guy that possesses the potential to dominate a division for years. The strength of the rest of the Buffalo Bills’ roster covers up his clear weaknesses when it comes to his arm.
In the case of Darnold, the New York Jets are a mess of an organization. While he could thrive in another situation, the Jets’ dysfunction makes it hard to envision the young QB developing into anything more than a mediocre starter. If Adam Gase is fired next season, that means Darnold will have to learn under his third head coach in as many years.
Simply put, Tagovailoa should dominate this division for years to come. Let’s just hope injuries don’t prevent him from doing so.