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Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
NFL: Brady and Patriots still a constant in AFC East
First Published Aug 30 2014 10:41 am • Last Updated Aug 30 2014 11:43 pm

Tom Brady has seen plenty of other quarterbacks come and go in the AFC East.

While the faces across the sideline keep changing, Brady has been a constant since leading the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl title during the 2001 season. Now, at 37 years old, Brady is still everything the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills have been searching for.

At a glance

Predicted order of finish

1. Patriots

2. Jets

3. Dolphis

4. Bills

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Namely, a franchise quarterback.

"I’ve been lucky to do something I really love to do," Brady said. "I’d love to keep doing it, so that’s a great motivation for me to come out. Where else would I rather be? This is a lot better than any cubicle I could probably think of. It’s a pretty good office."

Since Brady took over as the Patriots’ starter, the Jets have had nine quarterbacks start. Meanwhile, the Bills have had 11 and the Dolphins a whopping 16.

Given the constant turnover everywhere else, it’s no coincidence the Patriots have won 11 of the last 13 division titles. The exceptions: 2002, when New York won it, and 2008, when Brady missed 15 games with a knee injury and Miami won.

All three of the Patriots’ rivals think they might be on to something as far as setting up their futures under center. Miami’s Ryan Tannehill enters his third season, while New York’s Geno Smith and Buffalo’s EJ Manuel are going into their second.

Brady’s bunch

The Patriots’ offense should get a big boost with the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski. The health of one of Brady’s favorite targets will be a big story line after he had surgery on his right knee in January. He’s aiming to play in all 16 games this season after he missed the first six last year following back and forearm surgeries. He played the next seven, but hurt his knee and missed the rest of the season. The Patriots should be improved on defense after signing free agents Darrelle Revis — much to the chagrin of Jets fans — and Brandon Browner, who’ll sit out the first four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Three key defensive players sidelined for most of last season also are back: linebacker Jerod Mayo and defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly.

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Soaring Jets?

Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg are giving Smith every opportunity to establish himself as the team’s quarterback for now and beyond, even with Michael Vick on the roster. The Jets haven’t made the playoffs in three seasons, so there’s pressure on Ryan to build on last year’s 8-8 finish. While Smith has shown flashes, the Jets won’t hesitate to pull him if he struggles and plug in Vick. Regardless of who’s under center, the offense should be improved with the additions of wide receiver Eric Decker and running back Chris Johnson.

New-look Dolphins

Miami is trying to put the bullying scandal that rocked the franchise and the rest of the league far behind. Joe Philbin is back as coach, but GM Jeff Ireland was fired and replaced by Dennis Hickey. One of the Dolphins’ top concerns was to keep Tannehill more upright — and give him the opportunity to get the ball to Mike Wallace more often — after Miami allowed an NFL-high 58 sacks. Left tackle Brandon Albert was signed to improve protection. RB Knowshon Moreno, if healthy, should also help new coordinator Bill Lazor’s offense.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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