Last week we focused on the division's defensive tackles. This week, for our next-to-last edition of "Around The AFC East" for the '09 offseason, we turn our attention to the offensive side of the ball. In particular, we focus on the division's wide receivers.
My ranking of the four teams is below. Also remember to head over to Buffalo Rumblings, Gang Green Nation, and Pats Pulpit to see how those three blogs ranked the division's receivers. But don't expect much love for Miami's group of receivers from those three blogs.
MATTY'S RANKING OF AFC EAST WIDE RECEIVERS
The top spot is essentially a two horse race. And even with the addition of Terrell Owens, it's the Patriots who will continue to scare me the most. Randy Moss is simply amazing. In my opinion, he's the most physically gifted receiver to ever step foot on a football field. His combination of size, speed, athleticism, and hands is unparalleled. And even though Moss is a Patriot, he remains among my top five non-Dolphin players ever.
But the Pats are more than just Moss - unfortunately. We all know just how good Wes Welker is at what he does. And that's the key. I don't think Welker would have ever put up the numbers he has in New England if he had remained in Miami. But in NE's system, he's an ideal fit and is very good at working out of the slot, going across the middle, making critical catches, and picking up yards after the catch. He's the ideal compliment to a receiver like Moss.
Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis are next on the depth chart. Both were offseason acquisitions and both will likely produce when asked to. In particular, I really think the addition of Lewis will prove to be another great move for New England. He's going to fill the Jabar Gaffney void very well in their offense.
Top to bottom, this unit is the best in the division and among the best in the NFL.
There's no question that the Bills' offense got better with the addition of Terrell Owens. Owens still has gas left in his tank and will likely be well behaved in his first year in Buffalo. And even in a "down year" last year, Owens had over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. His deal was only a one-year deal, too. So he's playing for a contract as well - providing extra motivation.
Lee Evans, one of the NFL's most underrated receivers, will now finally get some single coverage to work with. He has never had a real threat opposite of him. Owens changes all that. All of us Dolphin fans have seen how good Evans can be. Now he's even more dangerous.
Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish round out Buffalo's top four. I think both provide solid depth. Reed was asked to do too much last year and will settle in nicely as the #3 receiver once again. And top to bottom, this might be the fastest group of receivers in the division.
No, the Dolphins don't have one receiver on their roster with a 1,000 yard season under his belt. Some Jet fans will say that's reason enough for their group of receivers to be listed above ours. However, the Dolphins top three receivers were far more productive than NY's projected top three - and they have more potential, too. Ted Ginn is entering his "make or break" season. Greg Camarillo was having a breakout year last year before his season-ending knee injury. But he was participating more than we thought he would during minicamp and will likely be ready to go for camp. And Davone Bess put together the second greatest rookie season ever for an undrafted free agent wide receiver. And we've just scratched the surface on Bess and his potential.
To me, though, the "X factor" is rookie Patrick Turner. At 6'5, 220 pounds, he's exactly what the Dolphins have been missing. He's a big, physical possession receiver who will be a factor in the redzone. He's shown this offseason that he has some great hands. And media reports indicate that he's shown surprising quickness in his ability to get in and out of his breaks for a guy his size. If he can contribute right away, this receiving corp in Miami, from top to bottom, is a very deep group. Again - no real stand-out star; but a great mixture of talents who compliment each other - and Chad Pennington - well.
Here's what I see when I look at the Jets. I see Jerricho Cotchery and nothing else. Behind Cotchery, who isn't a superstar himself, is a list of whose who among medicore receivers. Chansi Stuckey is probably penciled in as the starter opposite Cotchery right now. David Clowney has flashed potential in previous camps. But he's inexperienced and probably doesn't have a very high ceiling. Brad Smith, the converted college quarterback, has 53 receptions in his 3 year career.
And you thought the Dolphins' receiving situation was an issue heading into the offseason.
Think about this. Other than Cotchery, the Jets don't have a receiver on their roster who caught more than 32 passes last year. The funny thing is that it's no secret that NY needed a receiver. But they didn't go out and get one this offseason. So it should come as no surprise that the Jets rank dead last in the division and close to last in the entire NFL in terms of their receivers.