New Jets running back Frank Gore views AFC East race as 'wide open' for one obvious reason

Frank Gore has enough experience watching the New England Patriots control the AFC East over the last few years as a member of the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. The veteran running back will get his latest crack at dethroning the Patriots, this time with the New York Jets

This time, Gore smalls blood in the water. The AFC East is there for the taking. 

"I think it's wide open ... Brady's gone," Gore said in a conference call with Jets beat reporters, per the New York Daily News. "It's wide open. You got young quarterbacks. Sam Darnold. Josh [Allen] ... But I'm just going to be ready when we start and hope it goes our way."  

The Jets haven't won the AFC East since 2002, but the division is there for the taking now that Brady has moved on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The last time New England failed to win the AFC East was the season Brady tore his ACL in Week 1 (2008), and the Patriots still finished 11-5, but missed the playoffs. Matt Cassel was a relative unknown, but still threw for 3,693 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. 

In other words, don't count the Patriots out -- even though there is a major difference between Cassel and Jarrett Stidham. Cassel was in his fourth season in New England's offense while Stidham is entering Year 2 after being selected in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. Cassel threw 39 passes in his first three seasons in the league, while Stidham has just four attempts. 

Perhaps that's why Gore believes the division is wide open, and the Jets have the opportunity to dethrone New England. While the Buffalo Bills have Josh Allen, the Jets can argue they have the best quarterback in the division in Sam Darnold. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 draft compiled a winning record with the Jets in his second season, throwing for 3,024 yards (61.9% completion rate), 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions (84.3 rating) in just 13 games as the Jets went 7-6 in his starts. 

Gore will also be part of the Jets' revamped offense. The 37-year-old has 6,508 rushing yards after turning 30, the most in league history. Gore rushed for 599 yards on 166 carries and two touchdowns last season for the Bills and rushed for 722 yards while averaging 4.6 yards per carry in his lone year with the Dolphins (2018). 

Retirement wasn't an option for Gore, not when there's an opportunity for him to make history at age 37.

"I didn't because ... the first 6-7 games (with the Bills last season), I was ballin'," Gore said. "I felt like I could still do it." 

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