This is the first of an eight-part series recapping offseason moves in the NFL. Today's installment covers the AFC East.
New York Jets coach Rex Ryan obviously is not an advocate of the public relations mantra "Undersell and overdeliver."
Ryan overdelivered in his first year as the Jets' coach in 2009. But he's not underselling after his team's blockbuster offseason moves in 2010. "I came here to win," Ryan said the week after the NFL draft. "I didn't come here to be average. I know I'm going to be judged on whether I win a championship, and I'm man enough to go for it, where a lot of other guys aren't."
Ryan calls the Jets "an outstanding football team. When we get to playing, we'll be just fine. We plan on being the team that wins the whole thing."
The Jets look like the pretraining camp favorites of what has become a beastly AFC East division. Coming off a surprising playoff run to the AFC title game, New York added former NFL interception champion Antonio Cromartie to its defense and former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Santonio Holmes to its offense.
More good news for the Jets: They will be rolling in new money with the opening of their new stadium.
Defending division champion New England didn't make any huge additions but still has a strong team, led by quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick.
Miami, the division winner in 2008, addressed its biggest weakness by adding Brandon "The Beast" Marshall to its receiving corps. All he has done is catch 307 passes the last three seasons.
Bringing up the rear figures to be Buffalo, which is undergoing a total overhaul under new coach Chan Gailey.
>New England Patriots
Key gains: CB Devin McCourty (Rutgers), TE Rob Gronkowski (Arizona), LB Jermaine Cunningham (Florida), DT Damione Lewis (Panthers), NT Gerard Warren (Raiders), WR Torry Holt (Jaguars), LB Brandon Spikes (Florida).
Key losses: TE Ben Watson (Browns), LB Adalius Thomas (cut).
Breakdown: The Pats did their best work this offseason in keeping their own key players. They re-signed Vince Wilfork for $25 million guaranteed. They gave CB Leigh Bodden, a good press corner, $10 million guaranteed. They kept Tully Banta-Cain, who had five of his 9.5 sacks versus the Bills, for a $6 million bonus. McCourty should contribute right away in the secondary. By adding McCourty, the Pats think they fixed a position that has been a concern since Asante Samuel left in 2008.
Questions: Will guard Logan Mankins, who held out of minicamp, get the new deal he wants? Can Cunningham and Spikes learn quickly and help a linebacker corps that needs it? Can someone step up for a pass rush that had 31 sacks? Can WR Wes Welker, coming back from knee surgery, be ready for the opener?
>New York Jets
Key gains: CB Antonio Cromartie (Chargers), WR Santonio Holmes (Steelers), LB Jason Taylor (Dolphins), RB LaDainian Tomlinson (Chargers), CB Kyle Wilson (Boise State), G Vlad Ducasse (Massachusetts), K Nick Folk (Cowboys).
Key losses: RB Thomas Jones (Chiefs), G Alan Faneca (Cards), RB Leon Washington (Seahawks), S Kerry Rhodes (Cardinals), CB Lito Sheppard (Vikings), K Jay Feeley (Cardinals).
Breakdown: Cromartie, added for a third-round pick in 2011, looks good because he doesn't have to be the No. 1 corner. Holmes is one foul-up from being suspended for a year. He's suspended the first four games. But he caught 79 passes last year and he's in a contract year. The Jets gave up only a fifth-round pick to get him. Worried that Jones had reached the decrepit age of 31 for a running back, the Jets handed the job to young Shonn Greene.
Questions: Can Ryan light a fire under Cromartie, who underachieved the last two years? Can Ducasse fill Faneca's giant shoes? Can Tomlinson get a spring in his step? Can LB Vernon Ghoulston avoid getting cut? Can Rhodes be replaced?
Key gains: LB Karlos Dansby (Cards), WR Brandon Marshall (Broncos), DE Jared Odrick (Penn State), LB Koa Misi (Utah), G Richie Incognito (Bills).
Key losses: LB Jason Taylor (Jets), WR Ted Ginn Jr. (49ers), LB Joey Porter (Cardinals), S Gibril Wilson (Bengals).
Breakdown: The Fish paid a lot ($22 million guaranteed) for an inside 'backer, but Dansby is a good one. They gave up second-round picks in 2010 and 2011 for Marshall then gave him $25 million guaranteed. He will help a passing game that ranked 20th.
Questions: The Fish lost 16.5 sacks when Porter and Taylor left. Who steps up at outside linebacker? Cameron Wake, Charlie Anderson, Quentin Moses and Misi are the top four. Who plays free safety? Can RB Ronnie Brown rebound from lisfranc surgery on his foot? Is Incognito the answer at guard? Will Randy Starks adapt to nose tackle?
Porter had nine sacks.
Key gains: Coach Chan Gailey, DE Dwan Edwards (Ravens), OT Cornell Green (Raiders), RB C.J. Spiller (Clemson), LB Andra Davis (Broncos), LB Reggie Torbor (Dolphins), NT Torell Troup (Central Florida).
Key losses: WR Terrell Owens, WR Josh Reed (Chargers), OT Brad Butler (retired), DE Ryan Denney.
Breakdown: Expectations are low in Year One of the rebuilding effort by Buddy Nix and Gailey. The move to the 3-4 defense eventually should help the Bills match up better in a physical division. But it may take awhile. Aaron Schobel says he's inclined to call it a career. That puts pressure on Aaron Maybin to produce. The drafting of Spiller added some much-needed explosiveness. But the team still has more question marks on offense than any other team in the league.
Questions: Is there a good answer at quarterback? Who steps up at receiver? Will Demetrius Bell be ready to produce in camp? Do the Bills look elsewhere at left tackle if he isn't? Can Marshawn Lynch find a way to fit in? How fast can the Bills pick up the 3-4? Can pass rushers emerge at outside linebacker?
Next: AFC North.
>The AFC East at a glance:
New England: Welker's health is key question.
N.Y. Jets: Big trades add to Jets' swagger.
Miami: "The Beast" makes offense look better.
Buffalo: Major overhaul for cellar dwellers.