AFC Pre-season Questions

The NFL season kicks off on Thursday and most teams still have a question or 2 about their roster, including the Miami Dolphins. 

For Miami, the 2 areas of concern are pretty obvious. One, how good will quarterback Tua Tagovailoa be? Is he more than just a game manager? If the Fins are down by 10 or more points in the 4th quarter, can he sit in the pocket and wing it when everyone in the building knows Miami has to throw the ball? Time will tell. 

The 2nd question revolves around the offensive line, which has been a common theme for the past couple of decades. Even though they signed 2 key free agents in the offseason in left tackle Terron Armstead and center Connor Williams, they still have question marks at left guard and right tackle. Liam Eichenberg and Austin Jackson are 2 young players who struggled last season and an offensive line is often only as strong as its weakest link, so both of these high draft picks (Jackson 1st round pick in 2020, Eichenberg 2nd round in 2021) will need to step it up in 2022.

Here’s a quick look at the pre-season question marks for the rest of the AFC. You’ll notice that virtually all the questions relate to the offensive side of the ball, as in order to be successful in today’s NFL you need to be able to put up a lot of points on the scoreboard. 

Buffalo ……………………… Bad news for Dolphins fans, but the Bills are a pre-season Super Bowl favorite for a reason. They really don’t have any question marks of significance.

New England – What is going on with their Offensive Coordinator position? They appear to have 2 coordinators and neither is really experienced on the offensive side of the ball. Very strange. Plus they didn’t add any playmakers for 2nd year QB Mac Jones.

New York Jets – The Jets success this year will depend on the development of 2nd year QB Zach Wilson. He has the raw talent (mobile, strong arm), but has he learned the nuances of the position in order to be a successful NFL quarterback?

Cincinnati – They addressed their big weakness, the offensive line, in the offseason, so they are right there with the Bills in having minimal concerns. There’s a reason they were in the Super Bowl last year.

Baltimore – If Lamar Jackson is your big concern, you are in pretty good shape. But will his contract issue distract him? And other then tight end Mark Andrews, who does Jackson have to throw to in light of the offseason trade of WR Hollywood Brown to the Cardinals?

Pittsburgh – We now know that Mitch Trubisky will be the starting QB, but can he be effective? And how long until we see 1st round pick Kenny Pickett as the quarterback? And can their O-line, a big weakness in 2021, protect whoever is lining up under center?

Cleveland – Can QB Jacoby Brissett keep the Browns afloat until Deshaun Watson returns from his 11-game suspension?

Indianapolis – How much does new Colt QB Matt Ryan have left in the tank and who does he have to throw to besides WR Michael Pittman?

Tennessee – Can Robert Woods or Treylon Burks replace traded WR AJ Brown? And more importantly can Derrick Henry stay healthy and continue to handle the heaviest running back workload in the NFL?

Houston – Can 2nd year QB Davis Mills improve on a solid rookie season and be their quarterback of the future?

Jacksonville – The Jaguars have a lot of questions, but the only one that matters is how much improvement will 2021 overall 1st round draft pick QB Trevor Lawrence make in 2022 under new head coach Doug Pederson?

Kansas City – What will life be without WR Tyreek Hill, who was traded to the Dolphins? The Chiefs have added a bunch of wide outs, but none are the playmaker Hill is. 

Los Angeles Chargers – On paper this team is loaded on both sides of the ball. Does that talent on paper translate to the field?

Las Vegas – The Raiders made the playoffs last year and added one of the best wide receivers in the league in Davante Adams. Can QB Derek Carr take them to the next level by increasing his TD passes and reducing the interceptions?

Denver – The Broncos roster is littered with a bunch of young talent. The only missing ingredient the past few seasons has been at quarterback. They gave up a lot of draft picks and money to get Russell Wilson. Does he still have the mojo (he will be 34 in November) to justify their large investment?

That’s a lot of questions, but we should know the answer to most of them by the end of week 4. Enjoy the journey football fans!