The future of the NFL is now, especially in the AFC East.
The New England Patriots chose rookie Mac Jones as their starting quarterback over former league MVP Cam Newton.
Meanwhile, the New York Jets made Zach Wilson their starter without any stern opposition.
Their average age of 23 years, 229 days marks the record for the youngest ever Week 1 starters from one division since the AFL and the NFL merged in 1970.
However, this is not the first time that four quarterbacks in the same division were 25 years old or younger.
Last time that every team in the same division started a QB 25 years old or younger in their season opener was the 1973 AFC Central, with Terry Bradshaw, Ken Anderson, Dan Pastorini and Mike Phipps, per @eliassports. pic.twitter.com/0qRoGwFctG
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 31, 2021
Fast forward to Labor Day 2021 and Allen is the oldest among AFC East quarterbacks at 25 years, 104 days old.
Tagovailoa is 23 years, 184 days old while Jones is 23 years, 2 days old.
Wilson is the youngest at 22 years, 30 days old.
While they all have their best years ahead of him, it’s best to gauge who’s the best among them.
But if they all live up to the hype, this division will be an exciting and competitive one for the next decade.
Allen Gets The Nod Success-Wise
The former Wyoming standout has the advantage in terms of team success.
He already led the Buffalo Bills to a division title and a stint at the AFC Championship Game.
What’s scary is that he’s not just a quarterback with a cannon arm anymore.
His improved accuracy makes him one of the best play-callers in the league as of the moment.
The Bills finally found a quarterback they can build around since Jim Kelly and signed Allen to a six-year, $258 million contract extension this offseason.
We asked and you voted.
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 4, 2021
In contrast, Tagovailoa can claim that he helped the Miami Dolphins win 10 games last season.
However, his team missed the postseason and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s late-game heroics overshadowed his success a bit.
I’m told Dolphins coach Brian Flores just addressed his team regarding recent reports tying Miami to a possible trade for Deshaun Watson. Sources say he told players and staff that Tua Tagovailoa is “our quarterback” in a brief but poignant endorsement of the QB. (quick thread)
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) August 31, 2021
Jones ranks third success-wise because he hasn’t played a single regular season snap but showed mastery of the Patriots offense during the preseason.
Finally, Wilson lags in success because he did not dazzle the Jets coaching staff to win the starting quarterback role.
It’s just that he’s their best option and they will ride with him despite possibly being the cellar-dwellers of the AFC East.
Who Has The Best Upside?
Allen and Tagovailoa might have shown their upside already but to contrasting judgment.
The former became a legitimate Pro Bowler and star while the latter is still getting his bearings.
Throwing through tight windows and making quicker decisions are some of the knocks against Tagovailoa’s game.
Therefore, his sophomore year is a great opportunity to show his vast improvement, if there will be any.
As for the two rookies, Jones is showing more upside because he’s comfortable with New England’s system and he has a talented roster around him.
Highest-graded rookies this preseason:
🇺🇸 Mac Jones
🐎 Kwity Paye pic.twitter.com/sqXKL2xMor
— PFF (@PFF) August 31, 2021
On the other hand, the Jets are still a major work in progress.
But they are miles away from the other AFC East teams.
As a #Jets fan, we have too many scars to allow ourselves to believe in anything, but the enthusiasm about Zach Wilson's potential is unlike anything we've ever heard about a Jets QB. It's not fan or even media hype. It's experts. Consider the following observations made so far:
— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) September 3, 2021
That said, Allen is the best quarterback among the four while Tagovailoa is hanging by a thread at second.
A few impressive performances from Jones can make him second-best in the division.
Last but not the least, Wilson completes the list at number four because he will be playing at a disadvantage.