What the AFC East Coaches Are Saying about the 2017 Season
The 2017 NFL season is fast approaching, and fans and observers are excited to see what will happen in the AFC East. With a star team like the New England Patriots in the division, the East is going to have some tough competition. There’s also new blood at play here, with the buffalo bills bringing in Sean McDermott to take on head coaching duties.Here are the best insights we’ve been able to gain for the season, taken from the coaches and key team officials themselves.
Buffalo Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott
Sean McDermott will be coaching for the first time with this team, coming from six seasons as defensive coordinator for the Panthers. Management are hoping that McDermott can bring some new life and fresh ideas into the team. McDermott has enjoyed a long career in the NFL, starting as a scouting coordinator for the Eagles in 1998. He has worked in coaching positions since 1999. Speaking earlier this year at the NFL Scouting Combine, the new head coach was optimistic about the year ahead with the Buffalo Bills.“I’m going to be my own person. Nobody has higher expectations of what we’re trying to do than myself. There’s a daily standard and that process in earning the right to win, and so in order to do that, in order to win, you’ve got to win off the field first and then you’ve got to win on the field,” McDermott said in an interview earlier this year.McDermott has been building an experienced coaching and playing team around him, noting that the process was a bit like creating a great recipe. In particular, he had a lot of praise for LeSean McCoy. “I know what he brings to the table. It’s been fun to watch him mature over the years and really develop on and off the field. I’m excited about working with LeSean, because he’s a dynamic player,” McDermott said.It’s early days and Sean McDermott isn’t saying a lot, but it will be an exciting season in terms of seeing what a new coach will bring to the team.
Miami Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase
Adam Gase will continue head coaching duties for the Dolphins in 2017, his second year with the team. The team finished with a strong 10 – 6 record last season, and finished second in the AFC East. Fans and observers are expecting to see continued performance in the upcoming season.Even though there were some good results from the team last year, there were still mistakes evident and there is room for improvement. Gase himself admits that some of the coaching decisions made were not his best. He was candid regarding the coaching decision to limit the playing time of defensive end Cameron Wake at the start of last season. “I made a mistake. I should have been playing him more early,” Gase said about the earlier games. The intention was obviously to limit playtime so that Wake would be protected for more important games at the end of the season, this was reinforced when Gase said that “We were trying to think long term. … We thought we were being smart and it backfired on us.”With hindsight in hand Gase will approach this year as a more mature coach with better experience under his belt. He has a strong relationship with the players, and many see him as an improvement over ex-coach Joe Philbin. It probably helps that Gase is closer in age to the majority of the players. It seems that Gase has a sense of allowing the players to have a good home and football balance, which could be what aids overall morale in the team. “Our coaches do a good job investing in what our players enjoy doing outside of the building — their families and kids. I think that’s something to be said for our coaching staff, because our players know that we actually are invested in them, not only as a player but as a person,” Gase was quoted as saying earlier this year.Experience and a deep respect for the players could be important with a tough season ahead, so we’ll have to see how Gase’s unique style influences the Dolphins in 2017.
New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick
The Patriots will enter the season as defending champions, and will retain the services of long established head coach Bill Belichick. Their 14 – 2 record from last year will definitely one to match, but it could easily be argued that they do have the talent to do it.Belichick doesn’t want to bask in the glory of a Super Bowl win, and thinks instead that the Super Bowl campaign will actually put them on the back foot this year. He said earlier this year that “in all honesty we’re five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league.” Speaking more recently, he was still seemingly downplaying expectations and hinting at a tough year ahead; “We’ve had enough parades, enough celebrations and enough everything. This ’17 team hasn’t done anything yet– none of us have. We really need to focus on what we’re doing this year. There have been a lot of great moments in the past, which is great, but that isn’t going to help us this year.”Belichick has repeatedly said that the team have a lot of work to do, so the preseason games will be ones to watch as we gain a glimpse of the shape of the Patriots for the regular season. Is this just modesty, or a realistic view from a long experienced coach? The Patriots have nothing to prove, but fans will want to see them perform at the same high level in 2017.
New York Jets AFC East Head Coach Todd Bowles
This will be Todd Bowles’ third season with the Jets, and the team is coming off of a majorly disappointing 5 – 11 record. If you ask most analysts, this will be the penultimate season with Bowles on the job. The team has lost good players, and some might even say that they’re sacrificing 2017 so that they can get the best draft opportunities next year.Bowles himself has been quiet lately, but team owner Woody Jonson has had some things to say about the season ahead; “A lot of change is not the answer, that’s not the way to do it.” Does this mean that we should keep our expectations low? Johnson also had positive words to say about Bowles; “He’s very talented. I think he’s going to get better. I’m just so happy to have him.”These words could be intended to stabilize the team and reassure fans, but it’s hard to see how the team owner could be impressed by last year’s results. The Jets will be a team to watch in terms of performance this upcoming season. Another failed campaign could signal a long rebuild starting in 2018.