Stephen A. Smith Thinks Jets, Not Patriots, Will Be Last In AFC East

The Jets are still the Jets for Smith

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The Buffalo Bills are the new kings of the AFC East, while the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets made flashy moves in the offseason, meaning the New England Patriots could finish last place in the division for the first time in over two decades.

That was the debate on “First Take” Tuesday between ESPN analysts Marcus Spears and Stephen A. Smith. New England (10-7) finished second in the AFC East in 2021, and the Jets (4-13) finished last, but which team is in danger of finishing at the bottom? The Patriots made a big trade for DeVante Parker, but for Spears, New England has not done enough this offseason.

“They’re in danger because of, one, the other three teams are becoming more talented,” Spears said. “That’s number one, and it starts there, because people forget — Bill Belichick, taking nothing away from him, great coach, great guy to put people in position to have success. Bill Belichick had a bunch of Hall of Famers throughout his tenure with the New England Patriots, or elite All-Pro, Pro Bowl-level players… History has got to stop reverberating. This is not the same New England Patriots team. They have a second-year quarterback.”

“They’re trying to figure out, outside, who their weapons will be so they can be an explosive offense, and more importantly, they don’t know who the hell their offensive coordinator is going to be.” Now I get it, we can throw and dump on the Jets. The Jets have done phenomenal things from a personnel standpoint. Do they have to put it together? Absolutely. Miami, they have a more talented roster than the New England Patriots right now, and we don’t even need to talk about the Buffalo Bills.”

“Are they in danger of being the last place team? Yes, because of talent on these rosters, but I have pause, like everyone else, because Bill Belichick is the head coach, but coaches can’t overcome if you don’t have the talent to execute the plan you put in place, and that is my concern with the New England Patriots going into this particular season, don’t mean it’ll be that way going forward, but if I told Stephen A. Joe Judge and Matt Patricia may be your play-callers, you would tell me that don’t sit well for your team to play good football.”

Smith did not hold back in his response. The Jets, for a long time, have been the joke of the division, but their future looks bright for many. Smith, however, isn’t ready to crown the Jets just yet.

“Something is wrong with you, bro,” Smith said. “Something is absolutely, positively wrong with you. I got to seriously say to you, if it wasn’t for Adam Gase, I think you sound high. I mean, you got to be kidding me. The New York Jets are in this division, and you’re talking about the Patriots who have to worry about being in last place in the AFC East?”

“The New York Jets, they regressed to a point where Fireman Ed said let me retire from putting out fires, because that’s how bad the New York Jets are… You mean Zack Wilson, who had nine touchdowns, 11 interceptions, didn’t even throw for 3,000 yards. You mean the New York Jets with coach Robert Saleh. This brother was a big-time defensive coordinator in San Francisco. We know this. He got the job with the New York Jets. They ranked dead last in points allowed, dead last in yards allowed, bottom three against the pass and the rush, and defense is your signature.”

“I know it was his rookie year but come on now. Don’t get me started offensively. I see they got some weapons. I know they can play, (Denzel) Mims, Corey Davis, but the point is at the end of the day, the New England Patriots gotta worry about being in last place, when the last time the New York Jets were relevant from a championship perspective was when ‘Broadway Joe’ (Joe Namath) was their quarterback, walking in tight shorts in 1969. Are you kidding me?”

The Patriots face many questions as offseason workouts progress. If the Patriots don’t finish last in the AFC East, it will have been thanks to Belichick and Mac Jones, and perhaps the Jets not living up to their hype.

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