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Around The AFC East: Ranking the quarterbacks

Training camp is just around the corner.  And because of that, this will be the final installment of our weekly offseason feature.  To close things out, we're going to rank each of the four teams based on their quarterback situations.

My rankings are below.  Also be sure to head over to Buffalo Rumblings, Gang Green Nation, and Pats Pulpit to see how they ranked each of the AFC East teams.


1. New England Patriots

This might be the most painful one I'e had to write simply because I don't think Tom Brady is the greatest thing to ever happen to the NFL like the media wants you to believe.  Is he good?  Of course he's good.  He's great.  But I also believe he's a product of the system to a certain extent.  Now that's not to take away from what he has accomplished.  But if the system didn't have some to do with Brady's success, then I guess Matt Cassel is also going to be very good or great.  And I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Behind Brady are a bunch of question marks.  I liked Kevin O'Connell a lot coming out of college but we don't really know what he is or what he can be if he was forced to play due to injuries.  Matt Gutierrez is the other QB on the roster and he's an average backup at best.  But the Pats do have a history of getting good QB play regardless of who it is, so you have to give this coaching staff credit, too.  After all, nobody thought Cassel would play as well as he did last year when he originally took over.  Perhaps O'Connell could do a similar job if he was forced to.

2. Miami Dolphins

Again, this one is also a no-brainer.  Chad Pennington was simply outstanding last season - both in terms of his on-field production as well as his locker room leadership.  On the field, he was 9th in passing yards, 1st in completion percentage, and 2nd in QB rating.  But we all know he was much more than that.  He was the leader of this offense.  He's one of the main reasons the Dolphins had their miraculous 2008 turnaround.  And everyone took notice of what he meant to the Dolphins - exemplified by his 2nd place finish in MVP voting last season.

Pennington is also the ideal mentor to the team's QB of the future - Chad Henne.  But Henne, like any other young QB with limited or no "real" experience, is far from a safe bet.  I think he's going to be very good.  But it's impossible to say that with any certainty.  But I do think he's got more talent than the other backups in this division - guys like Kevin O'Connell, Mark Sanchez, and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

And we also can't forget about Pat White.  He's probably as talented a 3rd QB as there is in the league.  Whether that translates to the NFL, we'll find out eventually.  But it's hard to say that, top to bottom, the Dolphins don't have a very good group of quarterbacks.  You might even be able to make the case that the Dolphins should be ranked #1 on this list because of the talent they have at QB from one to three.  But assuming Brady is healthy, I just can't bring myself to do it.

3. Buffalo Bills

For some reason, the media seems to be all over Trent Edwards this year.  Granted - the arrival of Terrell Owens gives the Bills a dynamic group of receivers for Edwards to throw to.  And Edwards has shown some flashes.  But he's also had his fair share of poor performances.  Truth be told, I really don't know what Edwards will be.  But this is probably his make-or-break year, that's for sure.

Behind Edwards is former Rams backup Ryan Fitzpatrick.  The Harvard grad hasn't been terrible in his career.  I still think back to his first game back in 2005 with the Rams when he threw for 310 yards and 3 touchdowns in a win over Houston.  But that's basically been his major highlight.  He did fill in admirably last year in Cincinnati - completing just under 60% of his passes and throwing for eight touchdowns and nine interceptions.  At least you can say their backup has some real NFL experience.

4. New York Jets

I could blow sunshine up your butt like the media has been doing and talk about how great Mark Sanchez is going to be.  But I won't.  Like I said, we have no idea how good these young quarterbacks with little or no experience (Sanchez, Henne, O'Connel) are going to be.  They could be future stars.  They could be Joey Harrington, Tim Couch, and David Carr.  And when the lone veteran quarterback on your roster is Kellen Clemens, you might be in trouble.

Clemens simply isn't very good.  I've watched almost all of his starts from the 2007 season and I was never impressed.  He ended up with a 2:1 interception to touchdown ratio and completed just 52% of his passes that year.  Most of all, he just looks "pedestrian" on tape when you watch him.  There's nothing that strikes you.  He doesn't carry himself like a leader.  He doesn't have a cannon arm.  He isn't overly accurate.  At least there are potential reasons to get excited over Sanchez.  I see no reason to even look twice at Clemens.

And until Sanchez proves himself, at the cellar of this list is where the Jets will be spending their time.