Four Downs
Offseason analysis of the NFL, division by division

Four Downs: AFC East

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman and QB Tom Brady
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Welcome back to our offseason series of Four Downs. We'll be reviewing each division one-by-one, looking at each team's biggest hole going into free agency as well as the most important players who may be on the market.

Buffalo Bills

Biggest Need: Wide receiver

In 2018, during Josh Allen's rookie season, Buffalo's wide receiver corps was filled with a slew of practice squad and fringe roster guys, including Zay Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, and Jason Croom. None of them would have earned 30 targets on a decent team, yet they all earned more than that in Buffalo. General manager Brandon Beane made it a point to fix the wide receiver corps coming into 2019, bringing in free agents John Brown and Cole Beasley. Unfortunately, that was not close to enough to fully solve the issue.

Brown and Beasley, for as good as they were in 2019, are still largely role players and should not be the clear No. 1 and No. 2 option on any team. Brown is an excellent vertical threat, even from the outside, and Beasley is a savant within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, but there is no reliable do-it-all or contested-catch player on whom Allen can rely.

If the Bills could add at least one receiver to help fill in the gaps outside of where Brown and Beasley shine as role players, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll would be able to open up the offense even further for Buffalo's developing signal-caller.

Major Free Agents: Quinton Spain, OG; Jordan Phillips, DT; Kevin Johnson, CB; Lorenzo Alexander, LB/OLB (retired); Shaq Lawson, OLB

A good chunk of Buffalo's defensive front depth may be gone this offseason. Lorenzo Alexander, a hybrid player in Sean McDermott's defense, has already announced his retirement. The other two key defensive linemen, Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson, are worth retaining at the right price. Phillips played fairly well as a bottom-of-the-roster run defender for the Bills last season after having bottomed out previously with the Dolphins. Paying run defenders is not ideal, but at the right price for a depth player, continuity is valuable. As for Lawson, injuries and middling production likely hurt his value on the open market, which could be great for the Bills. Lawson is a strong, sound edge defender who provides an excellent rotational presence. Assuming he will be had at a discount, Lawson should be with the Bills again in 2020.

Miami Dolphins

Biggest Need: Offensive line

The Miami Dolphins had one good offensive lineman heading into the 2019 season: left tackle Laremy Tunsil. Before the season actually started, Tunsil was traded to the Houston Texans for a pair of first-round picks, leaving the Dolphins with exactly zero quality offensive linemen to protect the buddy cop movie version of a quarterback room featuring Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Unsurprisingly, Miami's offensive line finished with a league-high 58 sacks allowed and a 28th-ranked adjusted sack rate at 8.6%. They also finished with a putrid 3.17 adjusted line yards in the run game, which was worst in the league by over a half of a yard. It is safe to say Miami's offensive line was a liability across the board, and the handful of injuries they battled along the way only made things worse.

As Miami's rebuild begins to swing upwards, however, now is the time to start building a young core on the offensive line. In addition to a league-high $93 million in cap space, the Dolphins have six top-70 picks in the 2020 NFL draft. All the ammo is there for the Dolphins to grab at least two new starters along the line, if not three or four.

Major Free Agents: Aqib Talib, CB; John Jenkins, DL; Evan Boehm, C; Walt Aikens, S; J'Marcus Webb, OT

As far as starting-level talent goes, Miami is not in danger of losing a whole lot. Granted, it is not as if the Dolphins were fielding 22 starting-quality players last season to begin with, but at least they will not be losing the few they had. Miami's most impactful potential loss is Aqib Talib, who never played a game for the Dolphins last year due to a rib injury he sustained before being traded to Miami at the deadline. If Talib comes back in decent health, he is likely a starting-quality player for the Dolphins, at least in the current state of their roster. All the other "top" players potentially leaving Miami are backups, at best, and should not be any issue for Miami to replace considering their resources.

New England Patriots

Biggest Need: Pass-catcher

For the sake of the exercise, let's assume Tom Brady is coming back for one last run, because otherwise quarterback would be the clear "hole" for the Patriots. The situation is too muddy right now to have a good idea about whether or not the Patriots will actually need a new quarterback. Instead, let's focus on what will be an issue regardless of who is behind center.

New England's offense devolved a slow, turbulent mess in the wake of Rob Gronkowski's retirement. Of course, Gronkowski's absence alone did not sink the passing offense, but without him or any other truly dynamic pass-catcher to force defenses to play a certain way, the Patriots offense struggled to get players open.

Slot receiver Julian Edelman held his own, as usual, but New England's second-best pass-catcher in 2019 was Mohamed Sanu, a slowish possession receiver who wins over the middle of the field more than he does outside. His skills, while an upgrade over the field when the Patriots traded for him midseason, were redundant in the current offense. As the rotten cherry on top, rookie N'Keal Harry's flashes came few and far between and he did very little to boost the Patriots' outside receiving corps.

The Patriots are also in jeopardy of losing Phillip Dorsett this offseason. While Dorsett is ideally a fourth or fifth wideout, he was second among Patriots receivers in receptions and yards last season. Even if he would need to be pushed down the depth chart, losing that kind of production could prove to be painful considering the dearth of options they currently have aside from him right now.

Major Free Agents: Tom Brady, QB; Joe Thuney, OG; Phillip Dorsett, WR; Devin McCourty, S; Kyle Van Noy, OLB; Jamie Collins, LB; Danny Shelton, DT; Elandon Roberts, LB; Matthew Slater, WR/ST

New England's roster is taking hits across the board this offseason. Aside from Brady, perhaps the most damaging loss would be Joe Thuney. A comfortably above-average guard, Thuney would be ideal for New England to keep around for continuity's sake considering they are losing legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to retirement (again). Having to insert a fresh face in Thuney's place would be tough not only from a talent perspective, but also with respect to trying to gel together a new offensive line chemistry. The other point of emphasis is linebacker, where the Patriots may lose as many as three of them in Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, and Elandon Roberts. Bill Belichick has proven he can replace linebackers quite easily, but having to replace three starters at once would be a burden for any coach, even the greatest of all time.

New York Jets

Biggest Need: Offensive line

There is an argument for a number of Jets position groups, particularly on offense, but when in doubt, always fix the offensive line. Similar to the Dolphins, the Jets may be in line for five new offensive line starters this offseason.

The only starter from last season worth rolling out in 2020 is left tackle Kelvin Beachum, who is both old (31 years old when the season starts) and a free agent. While there is enough money in New York's $56 million in cap space to pay Beachum's presumably cheap price tag, it would be understandable if they wanted to just move on and reset at offensive line entirely.

In either case, three of New York's other four starters are also free agents. The only starter currently under contract is guard Brian Winters, and there should be no reason that Winters' starting spot is safe for 2020. As such, the Jets should be considering every offensive line spot in both free agency and in the draft. It is time to provide a developing Sam Darnold the protection up front he deserves.

Major Free Agents: Robby Anderson, WR; Kelvin Beachum, OT; Alex Lewis, OG; Ryan Kalil, C; Brandon Shell, OT; Brandon Copeland, OLB; Jordan Jenkins, OLB; Brian Poole, DB; Lachlan Edwards, P

Robby Anderson is the one guy the Jets may lose who is anything more than a fringe starter. One of the best deep threats in the league, Anderson really started clicking with Darnold toward the end of last season once he was healthier. It may make some sense for the Jets to move on from Anderson given they will almost certainly have to overpay to keep him in town, but they do not have any other receivers to fall back on right now. If the Jets let Anderson walk, they must be gearing up to throw money and picks at the position over the next few months. Of course, the other notable trend with the Jets' free agent pool is the handful of offensive linemen, but aside from maybe Beachum, none of them should be brought back unless they can be had at massive discounts for whatever reason.

Comments

56 comments, Last at 07 Mar 2020, 9:23am

1 I didn't watch enough of the…

I didn't watch enough of the Patriots to get a sense of just how awful their receiving core was towards the end. Some people who claimed to do film study on this will suggest they were still able to scheme players open and that the fault lies squarely at Brady. Others have rightfully countered...if you doubled edleman, no one else could do anything.

In any event, NE seriously needs to commit themselves to a run oriented offense for the sake of preserving Brady's arm through the season. Whatever skill Brady still has left(and I think he still does), its not an ideal situation for him to be passing 30+ times a game.

5 Looking for "open" guys is…

Looking for "open" guys is the wrong way to do it. Just because a throw is possible doesn't mean it'll be completed. Or that the gain is enough.

You need to look at the defense and how they're responding. And against the Patriots, the defenses were always compressed and reacting quickly to action in the short field. Could Brady have done better? Sure. But better QB play wouldn't have gotten them any farther. You can't win when you're at that bad a disadvantage.

Note Derrick listed "pass catcher" not "WR." They had crap production from their WRs, sure: but they got *nothing* from their tight ends. *Nothing*.

6 NE Pass Offense

"Others have rightfully countered...if you doubled edleman, no one else could do anything."

I think this response comes from watching Brady over the years consistantly make something out of "nothing" at the WR position. To my eye, some of the WR's the Pats had on the roster were definately talented, and were getting open (though not nearly as often as in the past), but a lot of the open recievers were outside the numbers and down the field. Brady has been far less effective on throws like that for most of his career then he has been in the middle of the field, add to that a down year for the OL (with especially inconsistant run-blocking), a TE group that can't catch or block, and you ended up with a really bad outcome.

To my mind the Pats either need basically entirely new recievers, or a new QB. Brady's skillset just doesn't match this group (outside fo Edelmen). I think if they stay healthy along the OL and have a decent draft there for some depth the running game will be back - but the passing game needs a total reboot.

17 I'd suggest that Brady has…

In reply to by sbond101

I'd suggest that Brady has always needed to feel he can trust his receivers before he will throw the ball to them regularly.

That was probably a strength to the team in the days when he was at his peak and everybody was playing well.

But last year it hindered the offense because beyond Edelman he didn't trust guys like Sanu or Harry.  That said, he also stated that with the defense playing as well as it did, his job was to avoid turnovers and play the field position game.

Probably sound like I'm arguing against myself but I think a younger Tom would have been able to throw open some of those guys he didn't trust. I suspect there's an element of not trusting his arm and projecting that onto the receivers.

10 pastes darfting wideouts

Pates drafting og wideouts has largekly been terrible

keep in mind some of these are later round pciks just expected to maybe make rooster as speicl teams guy. Others were drafted, though,. to be key cogs in Pates offenses throguh the years.

guy, drtaft year, career reg season catches---

N'Keal Harry- 2019, 12

Braxton Berrios- 2018, 6 (none with Pates)

Malcolm Mitchell- 2016, 32 

Devin Lucien- 2016, 0

Jeremy Gallon- 2014, 0

Aaron Dobson- 2013, 53

Josh Boyce- 2013, 9

Jeremy Ebert- 2012, 3

Taylor Price- 2010, 5

Brandon Tate- 2009, 71

Julian Edelman- 2009, 599

Matt Slater- 2008, 1

Chad Jackson- 2006, 14

P.K. Sam- 2004, 0

Bethel Johnson- 2003, 39

Deion Branch- 2002, 518

David Givens- 2002, 166

 

Most ofg these guys stinky. Obiovboulsy, edelman good and slater still on team but rrarely plays on offense. Boyce and Mitchell had injury problems btu looked decent at time. s

 

Chad Jackson was early round pcik. early 2nd roudn pick. I did not like him in college. Strong bust possibilioty i thiought. didn't like his speed and/or hands. don't remember exactly why i did nto like him but strongly felt he would not pan out.

 

Of course, Pates also drafted Gronkowski and Hernandez at TE for cathcing and Vereen caught a lot too as a pseudo wide receiver like James white. tema ALSO ADDS WIDE RECEIVERS VIA FRER AGENCY HERE AND THERE GUYS SUCH AS rANDY mOSS AND SOME OTHERS.

11 Wow, it's been 10 years

It's really been ten years since the Patriots drafted a WR worth anything. And Edelman took years before he moved up from an occasional fourth WR to a reliable WR #2 to a #1 by default. He gets doubled, not because he's a threat, but because absolutely no one else is a threat. 

18 Man, I didn't realize the…

Man, I didn't realize the Pats wide receiving drafts have been this bad. Its like Chicago Bearsesque. Its so awful, that it made me wonder how the heck has Brady operated great pass offenses for so long with this dreck he's been given?

 

And then I remember three things.

1) The patriots also hit trade gold with Welker and Moss. 

2) They drafted very well at tight end.

3) Much like the offensive line, the Patriots usually have a ton of depth at pass catcher. They usually had a good receiving running back who was also a capable blocker. They had several competent pass catchers providing the auxiliary deep threat guy.

Its always been interesting to compare Manning and Brady, but an underplayed difference is how the supporting casts were constructed. Manning's Colt days relied on star power at the top and basic competency everywhere else. Whereas Brady's was usually single star heavy surrounded by quality complementary pieces. 

21 This seems to be the…

This seems to be the impression most people have, but assessing its validity is problematic. PFF o line grades don't go back far enough to tell the tale and even still, I'm not sure how effective they are at parsing offensive line quality especially when a ton of factors play into it. I will say, NE having like a top 5 efficiency in running the football over a decade long span is seriously ridiculous. 

 

 

32 constant topic

It's a constant topic on Pats' discussion board, filed under "Belichick doesn't know how to draft X", where "X" varies over time.  For a long time it was "Belichick doesn't know how to draft tight ends", and then he got Gronk.

Belichick had Givens and Patten and Branch early on.  Then there were down years, worst of which was 2006.  So he went out and got Moss, Welker, and Donte' Stallworth.  And he's pretty much always had at least one slot receiver: Welker was replaced by Amendola/Edelman.  In recent years he got Brandin Cooks in a nice deal for one year.  

Most of the WR draft picks in the past decade have been relatively low.  Malcolm Mitchell looked promising, and had some big catches in the Super Bowl, but his career was cut short by injury.  The opposite end of the spectrum was the 2006 draft, when Chad Jackson was a complete bust and Laurence Maroney was drafted before DeAngelo Williams, Joseph Addai, and Maurice Jones-Drew.  

But the Pats have made do with good TE play, good slot WR play, and a series of good receiving RBs: Woodhead, Vereen, and now White.  

I'd say the jury is still out on Harry, who hasn't played enough yet.  

The comment expressing worry that the Pats might lose Dorsett is kind of funny.  Dorsett has never lived up to his draft position.

I don't know if the Pats specifically need WR help as opposed to TE help.  They really need help at both positions.  

Oh, and both Sanu and Edelman were playing through injuries at the end of the season.  That didn't help things.

Of course none of this matters if Brady doesn't return.  I get the feeling Brady is using his free agent status to put pressure on Belichick to upgrade the receiving corps.  Maybe a demand to let Brady have some say in the player procurement process?  He was visibly frustrating the second half of the season and might well leave if Belichick doesn't treat this problem as a high priority.  

 

 

 

33 um

I don't think Brady himself knows whether he'll return to the Pats.  "Face reality" doesn't mean "agree with my opinion".

The Pats are a 12-4 team with a great defense.  Is there another team out there where he could step in and do as well?  I'm not seeing it.  He's not going to leave New England to go to Jacksonville or the Chargers or some other second-rate team.  And I just don't see Tennessee as a good fit.  Most of the good teams already have good QB play.  

I certainly think it's possible that Brady would leave, but I've yet to hear a possible landing spot that would be more appealing.  Provided, of course, the Pats address the major shortcomings of the WR/TE positions.  

35 Maybe Denver? If you consume…

In reply to by RickD

Maybe Denver?

If you consume enough sketchy fungus products, Chicago? I don't see Brady signing up for QB Hell when there is the real possibility of becoming the 4th best QB in his own division.

43 Broncos have Lock

Lock looked reasoanably good down the stretch.  I doubt they'd want Brady.

As for the Bears...I don't agree he'd be the "4th best QB" in that division.  But I cannot see Brady leaving Foxboro for a group of receivers weaker than what the Pats have to offer.  

Minnesota would be far more attractive, but the Vikings seem committed to Cousins.  

46 Who is he better than,…

In reply to by RickD

Who is he better than, Trubisky aside?

Not Rodgers. He's not going 3-4-1 with Detroit's roster, so I wouldn't put him above Stafford now (or for most of the last half-decade, but that's a minority opinion; Stafford is severely under-rated). Cousins, maybe? But Minnesota can't pass-block. I don't think Brady can win in that system.

Basically, Cousins isn't as good as Brady at running Brady's system, but he's better than Brady at running Cousins' system. And Minnesota has a better offense than Chicago does.

Besides, Chicago has the same indian graveyard curse on QBs that SD has on kickers and improbable collapses.

15 That's reasonable. Even…

That's reasonable. Even though Allen improved from year one, he still seems like a longshot to put it all together. Not unheard of, but I wouldn't count on it. Still, it seems like a good idea to give him a third year before tagging him as a bust and moving on from him.

7 I'd be shocked if Brady left…

I'd be shocked if Brady left.

The only thing that could hurt his legacy at this point is an antique season where he stinks it up for a new team and some new draftee shows up and starts hitting receivers on the outside and the offense works again.

9 Legacy

As fans, we are interested in the "legacy" of a great athlete, but I wonder about how much weight the athletes themselves give to those issues when making a decision about what to do next.  I suspect that many are looking for another lucrative paycheck, an opportunity to show that they've still "got it," payback for perceived mistreatment by their current team, or one of many other factors.  And how much is a legacy tainted by a faltering final season?  When I visualize Johnny Unitas, I don't see an over-the-hill guy on the Chargers.  Joe Montana played pretty well in KC, but I doubt if I'm alone when I invariably picture him in a 49er's uniform.  I have to stop and think to recall that Joe Namath played one season with the Rams.  If you picture Willie Mays stumbling in the outfield as a Met instead of making one of the legendary catches of all time in the 1954 World Series, you need to reconsider some of your life choices! 

I suspect that the legacy is (appropriately) important to us as fans, and that after retirement, it often grows in meaning to the athlete.  But I don't think it's that big a factor to athletes who still think they can perform at their previous level.

13 I think: 1. Athletes care…

In reply to by young curmudgeon

I think:

1. Athletes care strongly about legacy.
2. Athletes are irrationally confident in their own abilities.

As with all generalizations, this is not universally true, but I think it's a reasonable approximation of most athletes.

I think Brady is attached to the Patriots and their legacy much more tightly than most historical QB comps are. Namath was considered to have made the Jets. The 49ers left Montana, he didn't leave them. Same with Favre. And both had one last great season.

The guy most like Brady is Unitas, and his indelible link to the Colts. But even he was basically a half-timer in his late career. Brady has a debate about GOAT versus the system QB for a historically dominant dynasty. There are still detractors who think he is the Jay Hostetler or Bob Griese of NE. The risk of that one bad outside season is you give that argument some credence.

20 I think if Brady is horrible…

I think if Brady is horrible in his next gig, it will be linked to age.

Look, Brady is going to be considered the universal goat. He could fall off a cliff and he'd still be the goat. Its already been spoken into existence and its all anyone will remember. I mean, Jordan is universally accepted as the goat even though there's all kinds of inconsistencies with Jordan being the Goat. 

 

Edit- the only way Brady loses credence is if Belichick is able to win multiple superbowls after Brady. 

23 I think the point is that…

I think the point is that the perception is that he's the GOAT and nothing will change that, even if there are arguments to be made against. Having a clearly defined GOAT sells well and that's basically the end of the discussion. The media will drive the narrative train and that train ain't stopping for anyone.

24 Apologies for the longish…

Apologies for the longish post.

Brady's career played out in such a way that he's the front runner for the goat even if the media was even handed its treatment. 

Before we get into the subjective arguments that will really muddy things, let's acknowledge the following:

Brady deserves a chunk of credit for the team's otherworldly success. He was a consistently excellent player for a long time, rivaled by only a few people. His peak was also rivaled by only a few people. And his longevity was rivaled by only Drew Brees and Brett Favre maybe?

If we eliminate all postseason production from this discussion(which let's do for this exercise) and you comb through the permutations of which qbs had 1) Consistent excellence, 2) Insane Peak 3) Crazy Longevity

You are left with Manning and Brady it would seem to me. Manning has either a roughly equivalent/possibly small but not insignificant edge in peak while Brady has decided edge in longevity. So in that sense, I can see and understand why Brady gets the Goat title.

 

Now - once you throw in subjective adjustments, it becomes an impossible exercise. How much did Belichick help Brady. Maybe Brady really is just Jimmy G in disguise(I don't think so). What would Brady do on the Lions or Cardinals. What might he do if he had consistently terrible offensive lines. What if a coach forced him into a Mike Martz throw it down the field only offense?

Then you get the other side. What if Elway had gotten to play the bulk of his career with Hall of fame skill talent. What if Marino wasn't forced to be carry the dolphins year in and year out. What if Fran Tarkenton had been airlifted out of the dead ball era and plopped onto today's era. Again, no one has an answer and so the goat comes down to which flavor of adjustments you want to make.

 

People who have read me will know who I believe it is. 

 

 

27 On the longvity point - I'm…

On the longvity point - I'm just going to point out Warren Moon was Pro Bowl MVP in age 41 season with a very good season and started 8 games the next year.

 

I will just say that all successful modern QBs are system QBs.   Make Peyton play in Gary Kubiak's offense for the whole of his career and he's probably 60% the QB he was in his preferred offense. Montana was as much a system QB as Brady is. There's little point debating the "system QB" thing unless you want to compare to across eras.

36 Some QBs are dependent upon…

Some QBs are dependent upon external circumstances. Others tend to bend those circumstances to their needs.

Probably the best modern example is Favre -- who basically decided NYJ and MIN were going to run his offense, whether or not the coaches liked it. You can see Rodgers becoming that. Cutler was definitely this. I think Cousins is a counter-example, too. He's been subject to a bunch of different systems.

Ironically, Manning did sort of become a system QB in his last year, when he came to the conclusion that his body could no longer cash those checks, and decided to just game manage.

31 The Montana never lost a…

The Montana never lost a super bowl is one of the weakest arguments I've ever heard.

Montana's long-standing goat title came from the fact that he was an elite quarterback who happened to win 4 super bowls. Brady has essentially one-upped him on that score, so arguing Montana ahead of Brady means jamming context into the discussion which then opens this topic up to a larger pool of candidates

37 The full conversation is…

The full conversation is that Montana went 4-0 in SBs playing in the 1980s NFC which was just stacked with dynasties (the best, what, 6 teams were in the NFC?)

The AFC in the last two decades has had two teams led by a player not named Brady, Roethlisberger, or Manning even get to a SB.

The rings argument is inherited from basketball, where Jordan's 6-0 trumps Russell's 11-1. Applying that to football, you end up with Montana's 4-0 trumping Brady's 6-3.

39 I've never heard Jordan…

I've never heard Jordan trumps Russell due to undefeated finals. The arguments instead focus on the era and how stacked the Celtics were.

 

Also Montana was not by himself. The defense had a lot of stars on it in addition to the offense. 

47 Russell and Jordan weren't…

Russell and Jordan weren't by themselves, either. 

\Russell played on perhaps the most stacked teams in NBA history
\\Their list of HOFers makes the 60s Packers teams look like pikers

50 In fairness to Russell, the…

In fairness to Russell, the opposition was also much more stacked because there were a lot fewer teams in the NBA at the time. 

   And to put by $.02, proclaiming anyone in any sport the GOAT is meaningless exercise since 1) the games have changed so much over the years, and  2) Sports medicine/training methods/diet have also changed drastically over the years (ex - what if Gayle Sayers had had modern orthopedic surgical procedure available to him?) that any kind of objective comparison is impossible, and the less said about subjective comparisons the better.

51 Except they weren't! Simmons…

Except they weren't!

Simmons covered this in his basketball history book, but basically the Celtics were the first team to really care about winning -- from drafting strategies, to coaching, to player development, etc. These were teams who had more HOFers on their bench than even their good competition had starting.

The 1962-1963 Celtics had 8 HOFers. Another made the Hall as a contributor!

Wilt's historic 1966-1967 76ers team had 4. Wilt's Lakers teams had 3.

Basically, Wilt's starters were as good as Russell's bench.

52 Coming full circle, my point…

Coming full circle, my point wasn't to seriously argue Russel over Jordan. It was to point out that the rings loving crowd likes to have it both ways. Jordan is the goat but doesn't have the most rings, thus how can we augment the argument in such a way that only Jordan can be the goat? AH! his undefeated record in the finals. This is probably the way Montana backers will write the narrative(though somehow forgetting that he isn't the only qb who went 4-0 in SB's).

There's purposeful selection bias at work that once uncovered leaves the argument in tatters. No one is mentioning Bradshaw as the goat. Aikman is rarely brought up in the top 10 qb discussions(I've never even seen his name once in those lists). 538 had Eli Manning as the most clutch qb in nfl history and yet Patriot fans who swear by Tom Brady's clutchness will scoff at the notion of Eli as a hall of famer.  And on and on. 

53 Writing in a separate Post

FWIW, I didn't see Jordan play so I have no sense of how dominant he was nor how competitive his era was. Zach Lowe tried to discuss Lebron v Jordan but admitted he was a kid during the Jordan years and it was hard not to get caught up in the cult of personality he had. 

Jordan was and continues to remain the nba's icon and his status as the goat has been repeated ad nauseam until its just accepted as an inviolate truth. 

 

From my point of view, I did see all of Lebron's career and I feel comfortable saying, there really isn't a player worthy of debate from his era. Not Kobe, not KD, not Dwade, not anyone.

Furthermore, it is instructive to see how the Bulls managed to be really great without Jordan while the Cavs have been good literally 0 seconds without Lebron in the last 20 years.  And I say that as a Warriors fan. 

34 so what?

It's better to lose playoff games in earlier rounds?

It's like saying an athlete with 4 gold medals has accomplished more than one with 6 gold medals and 3 silver medals.

 

41 Steelman

In reply to by RickD

I think the best form of this argument is intended to point out the peak Brady was actually less successful than non-peak Brady (implying that Brady's winning was team-centric); Montana's back-to-back superbowl wins were right in his peak, and therefore presumably more attributable to his play.

I don't agree with this argument, but if "contribution to championship winning" is your primary criteria it can be plausibly used to undermine Brady's case that he's the greatest of all time. I don't agree with this view because I'm in the apparent minority of football fans that think QB's are almost never the dominant factor in the success or failure of a football team (at the level of good pro team vs. great pro team).

44 that's a fairly tortured argument

In reply to by sbond101

Brady's passing peak was from 2007 to...when?  His second highest QBR season was in 2016.  

What is the argument: that if he were truly great his best seasons would correlate more strongly with the Patriots' Super Bowl titles?  That doesn't really make sense to me.

Doesn't defense matter?  The years between Seymour's departure and Revis's brief stay were not exactly known for great defenses.  

Very few of the best passing seasons correlate with Super Bowl titles.  Marino's 1984, Brady's 2007, and Manning's 2013 all ended with Super Bowl losses.  

49 Clarifying Remark

To be clear " I don't agree with this argument" was meant to indicate that I don't agree in it's entirety with the argument that being 6-3 in superbowls is somehow worse than being 4-0 in superbowls. I simply think the best version of that argument should be presented for critique. The best version of the argument is "the question of SB losses is a red herring, what were really saying is that the 49er's SB's were a product of Montanna's prime and therefore Montanna whereas the Pats superbowls were more a product of the team rather than Brady".

I think this argument is wrong not because it's wrong about peak Brady not being able to take a realatively average roster and win a SB but because it's wrong about a) Superbowls being more important than winning games in general, b) that SB's are (apart from maybe 06) primarily a product of QB play rather than QB play just being a necessary precondition. Those are both arguments you would actually find people on the other side of (I really don't think there is a person with any brain at all that thinks it's better to have just lost earlier in the playoffs than lost a SB).

 

55 It would be interesting to…

It would be interesting to do a DVOA comparison of their opponents. Incidentally, NYG were both's nemeses.

Montana:

1983 Redskins - no DVOA yet; SRS really likes them. Swagging it, SRS suggests this is a 40% DVOA team
1985 Giants - 19%, 6% below SF, but playing at home. (If home-field is still worth 15% in DVOA, the Giants are 9% favorites)
1986 Giants - 20% (actually were pretty much the Bears)
1987 Vikings - 1.4% (huge DVOA upset, essentially broke the Walsh 49ers)
1990 Giants - 31% (best DVOA team)
1993 Bills - 9% (KC season)
1994 Dolphins - 17%

Only 1987 and 1993 were upsets, although the margin in 1986 was unexpected. 

12 Dolphins biggest weakness:…

Dolphins biggest weakness: Offensive line. Correct! I would also have accepted passrusher, LB, DB, QB, RB and TE.

25 Flores way overachieved…

Flores way overachieved given the dreck he was handed. Worse coaches have taken better rosters to 0 wins before. It seems to me, if you really want to tank, you need to not sign Ryan Fitzpatrick and hire Hue Jackson as your head coach. 

29 What I liked best that for a…

What I liked best that for a tough-guy, defensive coach he was very aggressive in a smart, creative way. He didn't go for it on 4th as much as others, which is the smart part -your run offense is horrible, your line is not good, so it's a bad gamble. But when he did go for it they used plays like the punter to kicker TD pass to keep defenses off balance. They generally tried lots of trick plays. And I'd wager the Dolphins tried more onside kicks outside of obvious situations than any team in the league.

40 I think this offseaon says a lot about Grier

He has a ton of cap space, and a pile of picks. No one expects miracles over one offseason, but man, they can't have another draft of slow developing players or guys that never pan out.  Last years draft was not particularly wow! Granted the 2nd year players did take a step up. They really need not just starters, but players that would go to a pro-bowl etc... This is a team with very little hight end talent. 

 

Flores, I don't like how many coaches bailed on him this offseason. It does feel like a lot of young coaches abandoned ship in the offseason. He can't do it all himself and purging the roster obviously didn't instill a lot of staying power in the junior staff. 

45 coaching?

After starting 0-7, the Dolphins finished 5-4, including a huge upset in Foxboro in a game the Pats badly wanted to win. 

Flores is fine.  One of the better ex-Patriot coaches out there.  (I'd prefer to have him as BB's successor that the heir apparent, Mr. McDaniels.) 

56 Flores' problem this year…

In reply to by RickD

Flores' problem this year may be increased expectations brought about by those 5 wins they somehow chiselled out. Whilst they did improve over the course of the season, they were still a lousy team, ranking #28 in weighted DVOA. And most of that improvement was driven by Fitzpatrick who, lest we forget, has been a wildly inconsistent QB over his career. 

Even with a healthy injection of rookie/free agent talent, they are still going to look like a bottom tier roster. They could easily improve, but finish with a worse or equal record, which may not bode well if ownership are impatient.