As we have come to the halfway point of the 2016 NFL season for most teams, we take a closer look at every team and hand out letter grades for all 32 clubs.
We start off with the AFC East and we will continue throughout the week division by division.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills were riding a four-game winning streak, before dropping two in a row here as of late, which is starting to bring back the whispers of Rex Ryan’s job security. Though Buffalo has fallen off from their hot streak, the Bills sit pretty safely in second place behind the mainstay New England Patriots and quarterback Tyrod Taylor is putting together another efficient season, with nine touchdown passes and a passer rating of 87.2. The defense has held firm for the most part under the Ryan brothers, but will have to play better if they have any playoff aspirations. For as much talk Ryan does on the microphone week in and week out, his Bills need to perform a little better on the field weekly for Buffalo’s lead man to keep his job by season’s end.
Letter grade: B-
Miami Dolphins: Adam Gase has to be thanking the football gods for the return of rookie offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil and the production on the ground by sophomore sensation Jay Ajayi, who has rushed for 535 yards and scored five touchdowns this season. The latter player is the primary reason the Dolphins’ fortunes have completely turned around this season and leaving the Fins just a win away from the .500 mark. That feat seemed like it was light years away for a club that started off the season 1-4. Miami isn’t going to win the AFC East, but they could be a .500 team by the end of the season because of the improvement of the offensive line and the rise of Ajayi. One far away food for thought here down the stretch: Does Gase lure Jay Cutler to Miami during the off-season to push incumbent Ryan Tannehill?
Letter grade: C+
New England Patriots: I mean, what can you say about New England that hasn’t already been said by everyone else around the National Football League? They’re a machine, with or without Tom Brady. The team’s only flop was a 16-0 shutout, the first of New England at home since the Bill Clinton administration, by the Buffalo Bills. Should I mention they started a rookie named Jacoby Brissett? Brissett wasn’t even alive the last time New England was shutout at home, but enter Brady, who missed the first four games of the regular season and is gathering serious MVP consideration by his peers around the league and for good reason. Brady has thrown for 1,319 yards, 12 touchdowns and has a passer rating of 133.9. Oh, that’s in four games of work. Impressive? And the mad scientist Bill Belichick traded away Jamie Collins, but New England’s defense shouldn’t drop off too much without (see Chandler Jones).
Letter grade: A+
New York Jets: Let’s play musical chairs, shall we? The Jets have done that with their quarterback position this season and its backfired terribly. Fitzpatrick’s offseason holdout has led to incredibly inconsistent play under center, which speaks to his league-leading 11 interceptions and lowly passer rating of 68.0. Those problems led New York to once again naming Geno Smith their guy for the foreseeable future and that panned out great. And when I mean great, I mean a turn for the worse. Smith suffers a potential season-ending injury, which brings us back to Fitzpatrick, who has already called out the organization for not believing in him as the club’s starter. His interceptions have spoken volumes on where the Jets want to go quarterback-wise. Running back Matt Forte hasn’t been able to regain that form he had in Chicago and outside of Brandon Marshall, the Jets just don’t have enough. Lets not get started on the defense, Todd Bowles.
Letter grade: C-
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