The AFC East is an incredibly competitive division, boasting four potential playoff teams and potentially three of the 10 most talented rosters in the entire NFL. But how do their quarterbacks stack up alongside one another? Which teams hold that particular advantage within arguably the best NFL division?
Ranking the QBs in the AFC East
The top spot and the final spot are inarguable for now. But how do we navigate the peculiar injury situation in Miami and a Hall of Famer in a new environment for the first time in his professional career?
1) Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen
The overall production and threat that Josh Allen poses to NFL defensive coordinators in unique. Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts, and others all provide their own challenges, but Allen is a different animal. While Anthony Richardson certainly makes things interesting as the one true height/weight/arm/athleticism freak, Allen furthered that archetype from the Cam Newton era.
The mobile QB evolution is upon us, and there isn’t a single version of that player that defenders want less of a piece of than Allen. Aside from not having 4.5 speed, Allen is as close as you can get to a create-a-player at the position.
MORE: PFN’s All-Under 25 Team
However, his style of play has come under question, and for good reason. Newton’s career was slashed by an accumulation of hits that led to nagging injuries and a loss of arm strength.
“I know this sounds crazy, but I’m getting older,” Allen said. “It’s like, ‘I can’t continue to do this.’ I know when I’m using my youth, I feel like I can, but over the course of my career, I’m going to have to learn to adapt and change.”
He’s right. And while he may become slightly less efficient on the ground by shying away from contact while on the hoof, he’ll also protect his body from unnecessary wear and tear.
2) Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa
Choosing between Tua Tagovailoa and Aaron Rodgers was the difficult debate here. There’s no questioning who was the more productive quarterback a season ago. Tua was outstanding when healthy, and the Dolphins’ offense was a well-oiled machine in Mike McDaniel’s first season calling plays for Miami.
Rodgers may very well return to an MVP level of passing efficiency with the Jets. But Tua got the edge over Rodgers here because of his willingness to attack the middle of the field where the Dolphins’ offense thrives. Rodgers is an all-time talent, but part of his TD:INT ratio is the fact that he’s often unwilling to test those margins in the middle of the field.
Tua doesn’t have the elite arm talent of Rodgers, even at 39. Still, his accuracy is impeccable, and he’s only improving his processing ability, which was already at a high level coming from Alabama.
PFN NFL Analyst Arif Hasan ranked Tua above Rodgers in his overall QB Power Rankings. As fun as it would be to argue, the situation in Miami is primed for Tua to produce at an incredible level in 2023.
3) New York Jets: Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers is in a much better place this season, and we’ve already seen that it’s foolish to believe that Rodgers has officially crested the hill. After a few down years in Green Bay, he won consecutive MVP awards with the man who will call plays for him after a one-year hiatus to try and be a head coach in Denver. Say what you want about Nathaniel Hackett, but he had that Green Bay offense humming as the OC.
Rodgers is likely the most cerebral pre- and post-snap passer in the NFL, but he fools the people just as Tiger Woods once did. These amazing talents actually play an incredibly conservative brand of their sport overall.
He’ll have no shortage of talent alongside him on offense. But he will also have incredible expectations in New York, particularly because two of his former receivers joined him on the team from Green Bay.
4) New England Patriots: Mac Jones
Mac Jones has a lot to prove in his third NFL season. After playing well in Year 1, he was eventually benched for fourth-round rookie QB Bailey Zappe for parts of 2022. But the more crucial mistake may have been his perceived disloyalty to Bill Belichick.
“That effort to improve was showing up the Matt Patricia-Joe Judge contingent that Bill put in charge,” Tom Curran told WEEI. “When Bill caught wind of it — he’s still pissed about it.”
Belichick owes Jones more of an apology than Jones owes him for the decisions he made regarding the offensive coaching staff a season ago. But he won’t get that. Jones has to prove he belongs as the Patriots starting QB, and luckily Bill O’Brien should help supplement those efforts through actual offensive play-calling prowess.