Sep 16, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots tackle Nate Solder (77) before the start of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

AFC East 2012 Quarter One Grades

New England Patriots:

Record: 2-2

Offense: A

New England leads the NFL in total offense (438.2 yards) and points per game (33.5) through the first four games. Tom Brady is still a top-tier quarterback in this league, and doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon, even with a suspect offensive line.

Defense: B-

They still have a lot of issues in the secondary, but Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower will be bright spots on this defense for years to come.

Special Teams: D

It seems that Stephen Gostkowski has lost his mojo. With three field goal misses in four games, he’s a far cry from the clutch kicker that the Patriots have come to expect from him week in and week out.

Overall: B

Their record may be 2-2, but they are not a 2-2 team. They have losses against Baltimore who, in my opinion, is the second best team in the AFC right now behind Houston, and Arizona, whose defense has been one of the biggest surprises thus far in the NFL. After fans and media began to panic when the team fell to 1-2, New England proved their dominance with a powerful statement win over rival Buffalo. Proving that the era of New England isn’t over just yet.

New York Jets:

Record: 2-2

Offense: D

Only reason the Jets don’t get an “F” here is because they put up 34 points (on offense) against the Bills in week one. Since then, they have been just as bad as they looked in the preseason.  Mark Sanchez has looked scared and timid far too often this season, and the Tim Tebow experiment just looks hopeless.  And now without Santonio Holmes for the rest of the season, the Jets need to find a new number one receiver along with finding a number two receiver.

Defense: C

The only glimmer of hope the Jets had during the preseason was the play of their defense. However, four weeks into the season, it’s safe to say that, that defense has been awful compared to the Rex Ryan defenses of the past few seasons. They sit at 21st at the quarter pole, and with no Darrelle Revis for the remainder of the season, that may not improve.

Special Teams: B

As a whole, the Jets special teams has been good. Nick Folk has been perfect this season, and they even have a punt return for a touchdown. That blocked punt against San Francisco keeps them from an “A”.

Overall: C+

The Jets are in a tailspin — pun intended — and need to figure things out fast. They aren’t a bottom of the league team on paper, but with the injuries they have suffered and the execution of the gameplans, that’s where they may find themselves come December.

Buffalo Bills:

Overall: 2-2

Offense: B-

At the quarter mark, the Bills have the 11th best offense in the NFL, and, like most expected entering the season, has been productive. However, one has to wonder just how much better they could be on offense if they could cut down on the turnover issues, they have seven interceptions and four fumbles in four games. C.J. Spiller has emerged has a future top back in the league, but is battling a shoulder injury that clearly hindered him in week four against New England. Ryan Fitzpatrick is still the Jekyll and Hyde of the quarterback position. The offensive line has proven to be talented and capable of protecting the quarterback, however with both LT Cordy Glenn and RG Kraig Urbik out at least a few weeks, the depth of Buffalo’s line will be tested.

Defense: D-

The team has had one sure thing on defense this year: Free Safety Jairus Byrd. Other than that, the defense has been near atrocious at times. They have 10 sacks on the season, but nine of them came against the Browns and Chiefs, two of the NFL’s basement dwellers. Mario Williams has been non-existent, and is now using a bum wrist as an excuse for his poor showing. The linebacking unit hasn’t been able to stop anyone. And the secondary is having trouble covering receivers one-on-one. There are a lot of issues with this team that need to be fixed, fast.

Special Teams: B-

Rian Lindell has just one FG attempt this season, which he converted, but he has always proven to be reliable. Leodis McKelvin has been a huge spark returning kicks, giving the Bills excellent field position nearly every time he returns a punt. Buffalo released 12-year veteran punter Brian Moorman and signed rookie Shawn Powell to replace him in a move that the jury is still out on.

Overall: C-

The Bills want to be a playoff team. Their fans want them to be a playoff team. Unfortunately, they aren’t playing like a playoff team. They are heading into the toughest stretch of the season that began last week against New England. With games against San Francisco, Arizona, Houston, and New England coming up, the world will know whether the Bills are a playoff team or not by week 10.

Miami Dolphins:

Record: 1-3

Offense: B-

The Dolphins have the 9th best offense in terms of total yards in the NFL. Rookie Ryan Tannehill has started to come into his own as a QB in this league, and Reggie Bush is proving each and every week that he can be an every-down back in the NFL. They still need to figure out who their top wide receivers are, but after a 250-yard performance against Arizona last week, Brian Hartline is making his case to be one of them.

Defense: B-

Say what you will, but this defense isn’t bad at all. In fact, they’re pretty damn good. The front seven is near the top in the league, but their awful secondary takes away from their greatness. Their run defense ranks tops in the NFL. The linebacking unit of Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett, and Koa Misi are making a case to be the top unit in the NFL. Now, if only they could get a true shutdown cornerback.

Special Teams: D

Kicker Dan Carpenter has missed too many big kicks this season that could very well have Miami at 3-1 instead of 1-3.

Overall: C+

The Dolphins are better than their record indicates. In fact, I would even go as far to say that they are the second best team in this division right now even with their loss to the Jets. However, at the end of the day they’re 1-3, and that’s the only thing that matters in this league.

Tags: Buffalo Bills New England Patriots New York Jets

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