Two of the New England Patriots division rivals are looking at tough times going into the 2012 season even before training camps open. The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins have both been dealt problems early into the NFL offseason which could benefit the Patriots as they begin their quest for another division title.
The problems for the New York Jets started when the team traded for Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. At the end of 2011, it was reported that there were problems between Jets players and starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. According to those reports, players on the Jets team had lost faith in Sanchez that he could lead the Jets to the championship level that they believe they can play at as a team.
Jets players also made it known that Tebow was not welcome on the Jets but team management made the deal anyway. As soon as Tebow arrived in New York, the questions began as to how the Jets would deal with the inevitable quarterback controversy. To make matters worse, some on the Jets have talked about Tebow’s leadership, something that they’ve indicated Sanchez lacks. Though the Jets have tried to settle the situation by announcing that Tebow will have a selective role on offense and special teams, calls for Tebow to start at quarterback will almost certainly come as soon as Sanchez’s first stumble.
The television show “Hard Knocks” has become a staple of the NFL offseason as they go behind the scenes of an NFL training camp. They have announced that in 2012 they will follow the Miami Dolphins and the players are not very happy about it. Players from throughout the league who have participated in the documentary series have said it has been a disruption in their preparation for the upcoming season. Even though head coach Joe Philbin stated that the filming was a “football decision” rather than a marketing one, players will not like the cameras around as they prepare for the upcoming season.
The filming dispute is in addition to front office decisions by the Dolphins that have made the team seem considerably weaker. After saying they would whatever it would take to convince quarterback Peyton Manning to join the team, they failed to acquire him or Alex Smith. In addition to failing to acquire a top quarterback, they traded pro bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall for just two third-round draft picks.
With the Dolphins effectively self-destructing through poor roster decisions and upsetting players on their current roster, the Dolphins seem doomed for a tough 2012 season. As for the Jets, their front office seems to have created an unnecessary controversy that will likely consume the majority of their season. Two teams that could have threatened the Patriots seem to have taken themselves out of the running leaving the Patriots to dominate the AFC East in 2012.
Going into this upcoming season the Patriots will likely be the favorites to win the AFC East but issues that have already plagued the Jets and Dolphins might help the Patriots a little more. Every team has issues during a season but these two division rivals have accumulated problems well before the season begins. The Patriots may not have needed the extra help as they attempt to win their fourth straight division title but they may have gained a little extra help anyway.