AFC East Coaching Breakdown

Posted on 2018-08-08 12:08 by Jeff Mans




Every year I say it and every year I am flabbergasted by the lack of attention and notice that Head Coaches, Coordinators and offensive & defensive systems get amongst fantasy football players. I will put it to you this way: Look at an NFL Team as you would a movie. A movie could have every famous actor and actress that you could imagine. But if the script is a piece of garbage then so too is that movie. Every team in the NFL uses a script. It is called a playbook.  If the playbook is sound and it suits the personnel taking part in its development well, the chances for success are high. If you put Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull or Casino, it’s a terrific film. You put him in Dirty Grandpa and it is a piece of crap. It is the exact same way with players.   

Head Coaches are the Directors of the film. They are the ones who build a staff, implement the systems, and choose the actors who will bring their ideas to life. If a Director doesn’t have a proper script, a vision of what they wish to see, and a cast who will fulfill that prophecy, the film is doomed to fail.  

Football is one of the only sports where it isn’t just about god given ability or even pure talent. Every player that steps out onto an NFL field is a historically amazing athlete. But if they don’t have a good script, good directors, and aren’t a good fit with the rest of the cast, they just aren’t going to work out for the team or for your fantasy team.  

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at each NFL team’s coaching staff and see which tickets we’ll be purchasing this season. 

***A few notes about the breakdown. Each number you see is where that particular coach’s unit ranked in the NFL that season. Only the head coach and offensive & defensive play callers warrant consideration in fantasy football unless otherwise noted***



New England Patriots

Head Coach –Bill Belichick (19thYear) – Defensive Play Caller

Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach –Josh McDaniels (7thYear) – Offensive Play Caller

Defensive Coordinator –None

Running Backs Coach –Ivan Fears 

Wide Receivers Coach –Chad O’Shea

Tight Ends Coach –Nick Caley 

Offensive Line Coach –Dante Scarnecchia 

Offensive System: Spread – A spread offense is one that utilizes three or more receivers all running routes to separate areas of the field in order to stretch out the defense. 


Volume Report(Values refer to NFL rank in each category)

Offense Breakdown:The Patriots coaches are simply better than other coaching staffs and it all comes down to Bill Belichick. He is unapologetically crass and focused on the nearest objective. He does not allow distractions from the front office, other teams, other coaches or any players. The goal of the Patriots from top to bottom is to win. 

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will create personnel mismatches on offense much like Belichick has made a career out of on defense. The greatness here is that the Patriots can and will line up in anything from a five wide spread formation to a two TE jumbo package. They will also use a lot of pre-snap motion to throw the defense off the scent and go gain a matchup advantage. They acquire and utilize personnel better than any other coaching staff in the NFL. 

Bill Belichick won’t allow either his offensive or defensive system to get stale. He is continuously changing scheme in order to adjust to personnel and to how the opposition is matching up. They will game plan to the weaknesses of their opponent every single time out. They run a spread offense but one that will adjust play to play depending on the tempo and tone of the game. 

For fantasy purposes, if you plan on owning a Patriots player or two you absolutely must be able to understand how this coaching staff will attack each opponent every week. If you think that you can just use one of their RB’s or WR’s every week, you are going to be sorely mistaken. If you are not good at anticipating how teams will attack each other, you should stay away from the Patriots no matter how delicious they may look on draft day. 


Volume Report(Values refer to NFL rank in each category)

Players That Fit the System: Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel

Defensive System: 4-3 Hybrid/Multi Front 

Volume Report (Values refer to NFL rank in each category)

Defense Breakdown: Matt Patricia is off to Detroit as the head coach of the Lions leaving head coach Bill Belichick to once again assume the role of defensive coordinator. He certainly has his hands full as the Patriots defense got destroyed in the first half of the 2017 season ranking in the bottom three in points against, passing yards, passing TD’s, rushing yards and rushing TD’s against. Obviously, the unit got better as time went on but was still not one of their better units in this Belichick era. 

To say that the Patriots defense fits into any one particular scheme is not realistic. This is a scheme that will jump in and out of sets and coverages in order to lure the offense into making mistakes. They are very good at making QB’s believe they have figured something out only to be jumped as if they knew it was coming. Bill Belichick is one of the all-time great defensive strategists. He gets more out of less than any other coach in the NFL. He uses psychology to lure in opponents and schemes against their best attributes. He forces opponents into playing their own weaknesses and ultimately gets them to beat themselves. 

The Patriots are taught to play every style of offense and defense in the NFL each season. The coaching staff expects players on both side of the ball to understand exactly what the opposition is trying to do in order for them to be better prepared on game days. The Pats will scheme differently every week depending on who their opponent is that week. Thus, depth and versatility are essential to play for the New England Patriots defense. 

Players That Fit the System –Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty


Buffalo Bills

Head Coach –Sean McDermott (2ndYear)

Offensive Coordinator – Brian Daboll (1stYear) – Offensive Play Caller 

Defensive Coordinator –Leslie Frazier (2ndYear) – Defensive Play Caller 

Quarterback Coach –David Culley 

Running Backs Coach –Kelly Skipper 

Wide Receivers Coach –Terry Robiskie 

Tight Ends Coach –Rob Boras 

Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach –Juan Castillo 

Offensive System: Erhardt-Perkins Offense –A run first system that utilizes play action to create big plays down the field. 


Volume Report (Values refer to NFL rank in each category.

Offense Breakdown:The Bills significantly overachieved last season in many different areas but especially offensively where they ran a very heavy rushing attack under Rick Dennison. Dennison’s zone blocking scheme was quite successful on the ground while failing terribly in the passing game. Head coach Sean McDermott went out and hired former Browns, Dolphins & Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who helped lead the University of Alabama offense to a national championship last season. 

Daboll hasn’t led an NFL offense since 2012 but spent the following four years learning under Josh McDaniels in New England before taking the offensive coordinator job under Nick Saban at Alabama. It appears as though Daboll has adopted several new techniques from his time in New England including some spread formation tendencies. This system is going to lean heavily on the run once again but will do so while spreading out the defense with multiple receiver sets. Daboll has talked up the idea of versatility with his new offense which is much easier said than done. 

He played up tempo at Alabama and has stated on record that he will be installing tempo variations in Buffalo this year. We are going to see a lot of formation changes at the line of scrimmage. The Bills are trying to bring in players who are versatile and can play (or at least sell the idea of playing) both the run and pass. 

While the formations and pace suggest a decent enough fantasy offense, the odds would suggest that Daboll will have to cut back his aspirations significantly due to inexperienced QB’s and a completely gutted offensive line. This offense appears to be over its skis in terms of design and competency. The Bills are going to put a tremendous amount of pressure on their defense and that isn’t good for either side of the ball. 


Volume Report(Values refer to NFL rank in each category)

Players That Fit the System: LeSean McCoy, Charles Clay, Corey Coleman, Josh Allen, Zay Jones 

Defensive System: 4-3, Cover-2 primary coverages 


Volume Report (Values refer to NFL rank in each category)

Defense Breakdown: Leslie Frazier is a coach players love to play for and is a very good defensive back tactician. But, his cover-2 system is severely outdated and gives up a ton of big plays in today’s game. Sure, if you don’t have great (not just good!) cover corners and immense speed at the safety position this defense will get clobbered. Aaron Rodgers against a cover-2 defense is an automatic DFS play for instance so you may want to circle week four on your schedule.  

The Bills traded away Marcell Dareus to the Jaguars at the deadline last season leaving a huge gap on their defense specifically against the run. The Bills were real easy pickings as they surrendered the fourth most yards and most rushing TD’s in the NFL in 2017. Frazier will try and sell out to plug the rushing holes which leaves even more pressure on these cover-2 safeties. Micah Hyde played incredible last season but will need a lot more help this season.  

The additions of CB Vontae Davis and first round MLB Tremaine Edmunds should help shore up some of these holes but that is where the scheme fails these Bills. The lack of imagination both up front where Frazier will once again use his standard 4-3 setup and in the defensive backfield will hamper this unit all season. They will bend and without any sort of offensive threat to keep them from exhaustion, they eventually will break too. 

Players That Fit the System –Micah Hyde, Vontae Davis, Tre’Davious White, Harrison Phillips


Miami Dolphins

Head Coach –Adam Gase (3rdYear) – Offensive Play Caller 

Offensive Coordinator – Dowell Loggains (1stYear)

Defensive Coordinator –Matt Burke (2ndYear) – Defensive Play Caller 

Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers –Frank Bush 

Associate Head Coach/ Special Teams Coordinator –Darren Rizzi  

Assistant Head Coach/Offense –Shawn Jefferson 

Quarterbacks Coach –Bo Hardegree

Running Backs Coach –Eric Studesville 

Wide Receiver Coach -Ben Johnson 

Tight Ends Coach –Shane Day 

Offensive Line Coach –Jeremiah Washburn 

Offensive System:Air Coryell(aka Timing or Vertical Offense) – Stretches the field for power running game, utilizes motion to read defense and timing pass patterns to maximize run after the catch.


Volume Report (Values refer to NFL rank in each category)

Offense Breakdown:Adam Gase is proving to be a master of disguise. Everywhere he has been, Gase has run a completely different style of offense. What he built here in Miami was again completely different than what he had worked with before. Many coaches claim that they will build their scheme around their players but Gase has done it over each of the past three seasons.

First of all, Gase is an up-tempo guy. He likes to send in a series of plays to his QB and have him call the plays at the line without huddling up. This is what Peyton Manning did most of his career and that is what Gase installed first thing in this Dolphins offense. This is why it was important for him to bring Jay Cutler out of retirement when Ryan Tannehill went down last season. Being able to catch the defense napping is something that Gase has made a career of and he longs for the days when he had Peyton Manning to execute on that ideal. 

This season former Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains will perform the same duties with the Dolphins in 2018. Last year’s offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen is still with the organization and actually assisting Loggains in training camp this year. Loggains believes in playing up tempo which requires a QB to have a grasp of the offense and be able to call plays and switch out of them on a moment’s notice. There will be some big plays as a result of this.


Volume Report (Values refer to NFL rank in each category)


Players That Fit the System: Ryan Tannehill, Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore, Danny Amendola

Defensive System: 4-3


Volume Report (Values refer to NFL rank in each category)

Defense Breakdown: Matt Burke is a highly educated man who had been a LB coach around the league for the past eight years before becoming the Dolphins defensive coordinator in 2017. He was quick to make changes last year when the Dolphins began the season getting gashed on the ground once again. 

The Dolphins use a 4-3 defensive front but employ an interesting arrangement called the wide-nine. This involves lining the two defensive ends up way to the outside of the tackles/tight end and speed rushing into the backfield. This works exceptionally well when you have a lineman like Ndamukong Suh who demands two blockers and frees up either the inside or an outside rusher. But Suh is in L.A. this year and Miami simply doesn’t have the firepower to pull this off. 

The problem with this defensive setup is that you need your linebackers to be run stoppers up at the line of scrimmage. The Dolphins LB’s are far more of the pass rusher variety and hence they struggled quite a bit in stopping the run while in the wide nine formation. They are said to be limiting that setup here in 2018 and becoming more of a multi front defensive scheme instead. 

The big changes coming this season appears to be in the defensive secondary where Burke is installing a new wrinkle in using seven defensive backs on the field at once in some 3-4 setups. Bringing in a third safety will allow them to cheat up and play the run while also securing themselves against the pass as well. 

Players That Fit the System –TJ McDonald., Reshad Jones, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Raekwon McMillan 


New York Jets

Head Coach –Todd Bowles (4thYear)

Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach – Jeremy Bates (1stYear) – Offensive Play Caller 

Defensive Coordinator –Kacy Rodgers (3rdYear) – Defensive Play Caller

Assistant Head Coach/Inside Linebackers Coach –Mike Caldwell

Running Backs Coach –Stump Mitchell

Wide Receivers Coach –Karl Dorrell 

Tight Ends Coach –Jimmie Johnson

Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator – Rick Dennison

Offensive System: West Coast Offense –Relies upon short, high percentage pass plays instead of power rushing. The short passes setup outside runs and deep passes in hopes of surprising the defense. There is a high volume of plays in a west coast system.


Volume Report (Values refer to NFL rank in each category)

Offense Breakdown:If you look up the term “dead man walking,” it is likely you see a picture of Jets head coach Todd Bowles. After a promising start to his tenure in New York, the Jets have completely fallen into the pits of despair (dilly, dilly!). The talent level here is massively subpar though as you continue reading will see that Bowles has put together a quality coaching staff here. 

Todd Bowles is best known as a developer of defensive backs and anti-passing game strategist. He doesn’t concern himself much with the offensive side of the football as he leaves that entirely to his offensive coordinator. That job in 2018 will belong to Jeremy Bates who served as the Jets QB coach last season. He will fill both roles for the team this season. 

Jeremy Bates was a hot coaching commodity back in 2007-2008 when he was Mike Shanahan’s righthand man for the Denver Broncos. After a failed attempt at being the Seahawks offensive coordinator, two years before Russell Wilson was drafted, Bates took a four-year hiatus from the NFL for what he called a “spiritual awakening.” Bates has strong ties to the west coast offense and specifically a zone blocking scheme. 

In fact, the Jets will employ Bates and his former Broncos coach-mate Rick Dennison in tandem in hopes to recreate their Denver magic. Dennison will be the offensive line coach and run game coordinator. He is widely considered one of if not the best zone blocking teachers in the NFL. 

The good thing about these two offensive coaches is that they are both no nonsense personalities who are very good at developing talent. Since the Jets are very lacking in that capacity, it will be up to the coaching staff to develop who they do have on the roster. Each has done this before with the likes of Jay Cutler, Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster, CJ Anderson, Eddie Royal and Robby Anderson. 

We need to look for quarterbacks with quick read ability and good accuracy, one cut running backs and quick twitch wide receivers. These attributes can thrive in this new Jets offense and we could see some fantasy sleepers from the Jets this season. 


Volume Report (Values refer to NFL rank in each category)

Players That Fit the System: Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, Jermaine Kearse, Robby Anderson

Defensive System: 3-4 (Multi Front)


Volume Report (Values refer to NFL rank in each category)


Defense Breakdown: Head coach Todd Bowles runs the defense alongside longtime defensive line whiz, Kacy Rodgers. Rodgers is a terrific developer of defensive line talent and focuses on that and generating the pass rush while Bowles runs secondary coordination. Rodgers wants versatility along his defensive line as he likes to show different fronts to disguise the blitz. 

The Jets defensive line has been picked apart with only Leonard Williams remaining among the once formidable grouping of Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson. They used a third and a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft to try and beef this unit back up, but the Jets are going to be much worse up front than we are used to seeing. 

Bowles employs his aggressive coverage style in the secondary where he likes to blitz and swap coverage mid play. A lot is asked of the secondary in this Jets defense. Bowles wants to mix up coverages constantly and uses both man-to-man and zone schemes to accomplish this. Morris Claiborne has thrived in this environment and it is expected that former Rams CB Trumaine Johnson can see a similar resurgence under Bowles and Kacy Rodgers. 

The fact of the matter is that this will be both Todd Bowles and Kacy Rodgers final season in New York as this Jets team simply has nothing to work with. If they can get this defense to limit the damage and pick up some wins against a very weak schedule, it’s possible that we see both of these guys running defenses somewhere in the NFL in 2019. 

Players That Fit the System –Leonard Williams, Morris Claiborne, Jamal Adams, Trumaine Johnson