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AFC East offseason update: Jets surround Sam Darnold with talent, dysfunction

This is the second of a three-part series reviewing what the rest of the AFC East did during the offseason.

Adam Gase was fired as head coach of the Dolphins after producing a 23-25 record in three seasons.

So the Jets figured they’d give him a try.

A front office power struggle ensued, leading to the firing of General Manager Mike Maccagnan after he’d dished out huge contracts for Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley. Gase publicly questioned those moves, and then had to try to smooth over the issue with the team’s premier offseason acquisitions.

Former Bills head coach Gregg Williams, one of the more controversial coaching figures in the league, was hired as defensive coordinator.

What could go wrong?

Here's the rundown:

Key additions: RB Le'Veon Bell (FA, Steelers), K Chandler Catanzaro (FA, Panthers), WR Jamison Crowder (FA, Redskins), ILB C.J. Mosley (FA, Ravens), G Kelechi Osemele (T, Raiders), QB Trevor Siemian (FA, Vikings), NT Quinnen Williams (1st round, Alabama).

Key subtractions: G James Carpenter, RB Isaiah Crowell, G Spencer Long, CB Buster Skrine, K Jason Myers.

Games against the Bills: Sept. 8 at MetLife Stadium; Dec. 29 at New Era Field.

Schedule overview: The Jets face the Bills in the regular season opener in New Jersey and the finale in Orchard Park. But they could be buried in the standings before Halloween. The early schedule appears particularly daunting. The Jets host the Browns on Monday Night Football in Week 2 and visit the Patriots on a short week before an early (too early?) respite in the form of a Week 4 bye. That’s followed by a trip to Philadelphia, a home game against Dallas and another Monday Night Football game, albeit at home, against New England. The schedule then appears to ease up. Their next seven opponents are teams that did not reach the playoffs last season.

What to expect on offense: The Jets made it a point to surround quarterback Sam Darnold with talent heading into his second NFL season. Le’Veon Bell, who signed a reported four-year, $52.5 million contract, should offer a powerful running threat if he’s able to regain his All-Pro form after sitting out last season with the Steelers. The trade for former All-Pro guard Kelechi Osemele offers added protection up front. And Jamison Crowder provides a versatile slot receiver, a critical component in Gase’s offense as he looks to jumpstart a unit that ranked among the worst in the NFL in both the run and pass last season.

What to expect on defense: New York appears far better than a year ago, but that’s not saying much considering it ranked 29th in the league in points allowed last season. Gregg Williams is working to implement his aggressive, attacking scheme as the team’s new defensive coordinator, and he has some premier talent to work with. The secondary continues to feature star safety Jamal Adams. And the front seven was significantly upgraded. The Jets spent a fortune on former Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, offering a reported five-year, $85 million deal with $51 million guaranteed. And they used the third overall pick in the draft on former Alabama nose tackle Quinnen Williams, who joins Leonard Williams up front. If the Jets can generate consistent pressure on opposing QBs, it'll help to mask shortcomings in the secondary.

What it all means: The difficult early-season schedule does New York no favors, as Darnold works to develop chemistry with his new coaching staff and teammates. The Jets should be better than a year ago, when they finished 4-12 and ranked among the worst teams in the league on both sides of the ball. But is a major turnaround in the cards? The Jets have managed a winning record just once in the last eight years. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2010. And they don’t figure to break that streak this season.

Next: Miami Dolphins.

AFC East offseason update: Patriots remain cream of division

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