Since Tom Brady became the Patriots starting quarterback in 2001, New England has had a strangle hold on the AFC East, winning 13 of the past 15 division titles, and that trend continued in 2015. The New York Jets appeared destined to join the Patriots in the play-offs after five straight wins edged them ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the race for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC heading into the final week.But Rex Ryan came back to haunt his former team as his Buffalo Bills defeated the Jets in Week 17 to bring an end to their season. Despite lofty expectations after a summer spending splurge that included making Ndamukong Suh the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, the Miami Dolphins struggled all year and sacked head coach Joe Philbin after three and half seasons in charge.New England Patriots (12-4) Rob Gronkowski came up with several big moments for the Patriots The Patriots started the season on fire as they raced out to a 10-0 record but they lost steam as the season wore on and lost four of their final six games.That dip in form proved costly as they surrendered their grip on the number one seed and were forced to travel to Denver for the AFC Championship, where they narrowly lost 20-18 to the Broncos.A big focus this offseason will be fixing an offensive line that was hurt by Von Miller and the Broncos pass rush in Denver, but the return of left tackle Nate Solder from injury will help.Star player: Injuries took their toll on the Patriots offence as the season wore on but one man who maintained the lofty standards he has set for himself was tight end Rob Gronkowski. The 26-year-old was excellent all year and almost singlehandedly willed New England to the Super Bowl with eight catches for 144 yards and a touchdown against Denver.Grade: B. Most teams would be delighted with a trip to a conference title game but most teams are not the Patriots, who have been to five straight.New York Jets (10-6) Brandon Marshall was a big part of the Jets success story The Jets can look back on 2015 with plenty to be happy about even if it did end in stinging disappointment, with former coach Rex Ryan spoiling their chances of reaching the play-offs.First-year head coach Todd Bowles looked an excellent hire in his first season in New York and reinvigorated a team which had been in steady decline under Ryan.Ryan Fitzpatrick exceeded expectations at quarterback and is likely to return as starter in 2016.Star player: Some may have thought Brandon Marshall was on the downside of his career after a below-par season in Chicago in 2014 but the 31-year-old wide receiver bounced back in spectacular fashion as he caught 109 passes for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns.Grade: B+. It is a shame the Jets couldnt cap their season with a trip to the play-offs but there was plenty to be positive about in Bowles first season in charge.Buffalo Bills (8-8) Tyrod Taylor was one of several to impress for the Bills As usual, Rex Ryan talked a big game when he arrived in Buffalo but his Bills team did not back that up on the field in a season that was characterised by inconsistency.Buffalo could not string more than two wins together as the Bills highly-touted and highly-paid defensive line struggled to meet expectations.On the bright side, Buffalo led the league in rushing and quarterback Tyrod Taylor showed plenty of promise after winning the starting job in training camp.Star player: Left guard Richie Incognito spent the 2014 season out of the league after being involved in a bullying scandal with the Miami Dolphins. The Bills took a chance by offering the controversial lineman a route back into the NFL and he repaid them handsomely as he was one of the best guards in the league last season. He was a big part of why Buffalo led the NFL in rushing.Grade: C. An 8-8 record was not what the Bills envisioned when they hired Rex Ryan. He might have to make the play-offs next season to save his job but that is achievable if Taylor takes another step forward in his second season at quarterback.Miami Dolphins (6-10) It was a season to forget for the Miami Dolphins Joe Philbin was on a short leash entering the season after failing to make the play-offs in his first three years in charge.Three straight defeats - including one-sided losses to the Bills and the Jets - prompted owner Stephen Ross to cut ties after just four games and the rest of the season was a struggle under interim coach Dan Campbell.The Dolphins have hired highly-rated Chicago Bears offensive co-ordinator Adam Gase as head coach in the hope he can get quarterback Ryan Tannehill playing with some consistency.Star player: Defensive end Olivier Vernon is a free agent this offseason and he has made himself some money with his performances last season. Outstanding against both the run and the pass, Vernon will be a coveted player if he hits the market. At just 25 years old, his best football is ahead of him.Grade: D. Any season where you are forced to fire your coach is one to be forgotten. Miami will hope Gase can turn the team around in 2016 and lead them to the play-offs for the first time since 2008 and just the second time in 15 years. Also See: AFC North: In Focus AFC South: In Focus AFC West: In Focus AFC East: In Focus Puma Rihanna Suede Creepers
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