Running back Frank Gore has spent three years in the AFC East, jumping from the Bills to the Jets after a year with the Dolphins. He believes that the division is up for grabs in 2020.
“I think it’s wide open,” Gore told reporters on Thursday. “Brady’s gone.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is indeed gone, and that has sparked a sense that the sun is setting on the Patriots’ dominance of the division. The Bills are regarded by many (including former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly) as the team to beat in the AFC East, but it’s impossible to rule out a Jets or Dolphins uprising.
It’s also impossible to rule out the Patriots still being the Patriots. Bill Belichick is still the coach. The system that has produced the AFC East champion every year since 2003 with the exception of 2008 remains in place.
And, yes, in 2008 the Patriots missed the playoffs because Brady was injured. But they lost Brady in Week One of the regular season, and they had to adjust on the fly to Matt Cassel. (They still went 11-5, even without making the playoffs.)
This time around, they will have known for months that they have to figure out how to win without Brady. That’s not a guarantee they’ll win the division or secure a wild-card berth; however, it’s reason to not blindly write them off.
Then again, that’s not what Gore is saying. He’s simply saying the division is “wide open.” And it’s definitely more open than it’s been for the last decade.