The New England Patriots have finished atop the AFC East in 11 of the last 12 seasons and enter the 2015 season with a streak of six consecutive division titles. So there’s really no question which team enters the year as the one to catch in the division, although that reign could be difficult to maintain.
Between the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets, there are pass rushers aplenty and they’re all targeting a single player more than any other: Tom Brady.
Brady is currently suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season, although that could still change. But for the time being, the Patriots have to prepare for the possibility that Jimmy Garoppolo will be the man leading the way for the defending Super Bowl champions for the beginning of the season.
Even when the Patriots do get Brady back though, there are several teams hunting to dethrone the champions, and that hunt will officially begin at the end of July when the AFC East reports to training camp.
Aaron Rodgers says that leadership is a “challenge” but that he enjoys that part of his role.
He is the antithesis, really, of that State Farm commercial he does with Clay Matthews, the one in which he yells in the locker room, “Not here, not ever!” as his psyched-up teammates bounce around him. Rodgers would rather they watch him — how hard he works, how competitive he is — and follow. He will be there to give them a push, and when things get really bad, he’ll do more.
When he wasn’t in rhythm earlier this season, for example, he had a short meeting with the wide receivers. Many of them are young, in their early 20s. Some of them, at some point, were terrified of letting down Aaron Rodgers.
“He kind of took us aside and said, ‘I’m not yelling at you guys just to yell. I’m yelling because I care. I believe in each and every one of you.’ I think it meant a lot to all the guys,'” receiver Jeff Janis said.