Skip to content

The ‘2+3+2 (+3)’ Project: AFC East Division

When the NFL eliminated the “one shell” rule a couple seasons ago, it opened up a world of possibilities for throwbacks (as we’ve seen in spades over the past two years). But the single helmet repeal wasn’t permitted just for throwbacks; teams were allowed to introduce a second color shell which could be worn with any Classic (throwback), Alternate or “Color Rush” (CR) uniform, and several teams did introduce alternate helmets for non-throwback use. However, teams were forbidden from pairing the alternate shell with either the primary home or road uniform.

That got me to thinking. Since the NFL is probably going to, at some point, allow the second shell to be paired with any uniform, why not see how teams would look if they paired their alternate shell with one of the primary uniforms. For example, the Buccaneers now have a white helmet, which they are pairing with their throwbacks. But what if they paired the white shell, and added their current helmet logos, with one of their primary unis? More than half the teams have second shells now, so that would cover about half the league.

It was going to end there, but seeing how almost every team has at least three jerseys, I wanted to see how the alternate shell would pair with teams’ home/road/alt (but NOT CR). Then I got into the pants. And the socks. It should come as no surprise to you but if you start pairing an alternate helmet with the home/road/alt, with all the pants and socks combos, you’ve got a LOT of different possible uniform combos. In some cases it’s waaaay too many. So I had a project in mind but I needed to narrow the scope.

After a great deal of hemming and hawing, I came up with an idea: How might it look if every team were permitted to have two helmets, three jerseys, and two pants (and three sets of colored socks)? Each team to be able to mix and match any of the uniform elements. Home teams would decide upon a combo and — in a thought borrowed from soccer — none of the uniform elements worn by the home team could be in the same color as the road team (in other words, helmet, jersey, pant & sock colors would all be different for opposing teams).

The catch in this plan is currently many teams don’t have alternate uniforms that would mix/match well. Other teams, like the Packers or Raiders, for example, basically have one helmet, two jerseys, and one set of pants, even if you count their rarely worn throwbacks. So in order to make this 2+3+2 (+3) Project to work, I have created some new helmet colors (or jerseys/pants/socks) and, in order to make sure each element is interchangeable, tweaked some unis. A good chunk of teams have at least one throwback, so I figured, as long as I’m at it, let’s give some teams a full set of throwbacks (or fauxbacks) which also fit the project parameters.

Each team gets a “dark,” “light,” and “medium” color jersey. So color-vs-color games would be permissible (although I would hope teams would not go “dark” jersey vs “dark” jersey) as teams could wear their designated “medium” color jersey against a dark. The idea is to provide both optimal contrast and aesthetically pleasing matchups. With regard to socks: with these basically a free-for-all now, I decided that each team would get three solid color socks (and hopefully all of the players wear the same color sock or compression pants at the same time).

That’s basically the genesis for this set of concepts. I’ll explain my selections beneath the concepts, and note how extensive the changes would be. A couple clubs already would fit into the 2+3+2 (+3) parameters, and I’ll note that as such. For each club I will show only straight on views — Ideally all pants will have regular stripe patterns and teams will eschew the yoga pants (same color pants and socks, often with stripeless pants) look. Template borrowed from the fantastic GUD.

Here we go:

• • • • •

AFC East:


Right off the bat, the Bills almost perfectly fit the 2/3/2/3 criteria. The only thing they don’t (yet) have is a second color shell. And for the past two years, the Bills have teased both a red helmet and a blue helmet. So, I decided the second shell should be red, which would (in the real world) allow them to wear their Supe-era throwbacks. But for this project, the red shell would be used to mix/match with any of the Bills’ possible combinations (three of which are shown above). Their current white helmet, three jerseys (blue, white and red), white and blue pants (I eliminated their current third set of red pants), and three socks (b/w/r) round out the options. In this instance, the blue jersey is considered “dark,” white is “light” and “red” is medium. I’ve also given two new facemask options (red and blue). [The Bills — like the Giants and Texans and others — use red/white/blue. While I consider red to be “medium,” I’d prefer those teams NOT pair the red jersey with another dark jersey, even though I consider it permissible under the 2/3/2/3 parameters.]


The Dolphins are one of three AFC East teams to have a Classic (throwback) uniform, so I decided to give two options for them: one based off their current primary uniforms, and one based off the throwback.

Current uniform

The Dolphins have a perfectly fine uniform IMO (despite most of us wanting them to make their throwbacks their primaries). But it only has one helmet shell color option (white) and only two jerseys and pants (white and aqua). So for the ‘phins, I would need to create a second helmet as well as an additional jersey and set of socks. With aqua, orange and white their primary colors, I decided to give the team a more pastel shade of orange for their new helmet/jersey/socks. The Dolphins do have some history with both an orange jersey as well as their (now retired) CR unis. I used a shade of orange that is lighter than the jersey, and similar to their CR shade. (I did also try an aqua helmet, but felt the orange worked better.) Ideally the Dolphins would stick with the white helmet and white/aqua pants and shirts, but if they were to play a white-helmeted team, that would be cause to break out the orange.

Throwback uniform

I think most of us would agree that the Dolphins should make the throwbacks permanent, but until they do, I’m just throwing this out there. The situation is similar to their current primary unis in that a second shell and third jersey/socks are needed. I went with orange again for the “medium” — in a slightly different shade (almost a goldenrod) from the current proposed orange, which I think works a bit better with the throwback helmet. I wouldn’t want to see the orange elements too often, but against another white-helmeted team I think this works.


Like the Dolphins, the Pats also have a throwback uniform which just so happens to have a white shell. So I’ve proposed an additional helmet for the current uniforms, ditched the dark blue pants altogether, and added white pants to pair with their white shell. I also added a red jersey and socks.

Current uniform

The propensity of the Patriots to go silver over mono-blue is NOT a good look. So the first thing I did was to get rid of the blue pants as an option, leaving them with silver/gray and white. I also gave the team an alternate red (medium) jersey which, when paired with the white helmet and pants, gives off a bit of a throwback vibe. Socks would be blue/white/red.

“Fauxback” Uniform

When I created the white/red/white/red uniform (seen in the “Current” graphic above), I said it gave me a throwback vibe. So I thought a fauxback uniform encompassing several eras might work. I kept the Flying Elvis helmet logo (previous and current eras) and provided three facemask options, and worked with the current throwback jersey to create a fauxback. The red and white jersey and pants harken back to the Pat Patriot style, while the royal blue jersey encompasses the bridge between Pat and the Brady years. I think this assuages those who remember a lot of losing in the red jersey era — keeping that Pat Patriot-era look while still providing visual cues from their successful era unis.


The Jets are another team who have introduced a throwback uniform (white jersey version only), although they currently still have a black alternate shell. Everyone knows the Jets colors are green and white (and NOT black), so I created a white shell to be used with both the current template as well as a full throwback option.

Current uniform

With a desire to eliminate black from the Jets color palette, and only two colors of green and white, coming up with a third jersey/socks option was actually a difficult decision. I tried giving them silver/gray (to mimic the color of an unpainted airplane), but, while that color “worked” in terms of the 2+3+2 (+3) parameters, I wanted to try something a bit different. So I split the baby and created a jersey/helmet color that basically combines white and green. I’m not unhappy with the results, but I’d prefer the Jets stick with their two basic (white/green) colors. I gave the white helmets a green mask and the green helmet a white mask, which I think works well. Unless the Jets wanted to change things up, I can’t see a need for the “seafoam” elements, but they’d still mix and match reasonably well.

Throwback uniform

The same thinking with the current uni applies here. The solid green and white elements work well (and I particularly like the white shell), so a third jersey/socks aren’t really needed. I wanted to make another pastel-ish green for the third color, but I made this one slightly darker than the proposed “current” third. (I think I like the “current” alternate green shade better than the throwback alternate shade, but wanted to see both for comparison.) And while my favorite Jets uniform was the Namath-era kelly greens, I am also a fan of the Sack Exchange throwbacks they introduced this season. White, green and “pastel” green masks are also options.

• • • • •
Thanks for indulging me, and I hope you at least enjoy the concept of 2/3/2/3. I’ll tackle the other seven divisions in separate posts. Please leave any comments/suggestions/critiques in the comments below!

Comments (18)

    Since current NFL rules allow for different helmet logo/striping/stickers (as well as swapping different color facemasks), it would also per permissible in the 2/3/2/3 system. Teams today (Dallas for example) wear different striping/decals on their white shell.

    Today the Browns will swap their brown facemask for a white one, and other teams have swapped masks during the same season.

    The most common (though not sole) decal/stripe swap occurs when teams wear throwbacks that have the same color shell as their current primary helmet. NY Jets and Giants both do this, for example.

    Jets: link and link

    Same helmets, but different logo and facemask

    Giants: link and link

    Chargers change helmet decal as well if they are wearing royal or navy tops. Royal tops will be a royal bolt. Navy tops will be a navy bolt.

    Nice work!
    Bills: there some ‘debate’ on whether BUF in red is a good look (it isn’t)… but there should be no question that they should be a blue facemask team all the time, especially with the crimson lid.
    I’m coming around to the blue-pants option.
    Dolphins: I’m in the camp that the current unit’s are modern classics, and the throwbacks should only be used occasionally. They should have just 1 pairuhpants…white. The orange and yellow options are jarring, but sorta work here.
    Patriots: Love the fauxbacks! Add a white helmet/silver mask choice in there and you get a 21-gun salute.
    Jersey B: Eliminating the stealth makes the currents so much more palatable. The Sack Exchange/green pants look is surprisingly great, but not with the white helmet. Hold the wasabi!

    I have a question. We all know the league doesn’t allow alternate helmets with primary uniforms, but they let the panthers wear their black helmets with their primary black jerseys in 2022.

    Any idea why their situation was different

    I’ve addressed this many times before, but here we go:

    The alt-shell can be worn with a Classic (throwback), alternate jersey, or CR uniform. Any combination of those three is acceptable, and the alt shell can be worn a maximum of 3 times per season. The Panthers are kind of playing fast and loose with the rule (while still abiding by it) by designating their all black jersey/pants/socks as their CR (color rush) uniform, even though they also wear their black jersey as their primary. So the black alternate helmet can only be worn with the full mono uniform. If they wear the silver hat with the black jersey, they can wear white, silver or blue pants, and any set of socks.

    Despite this, last year they wore their black helmet with their “CR” uni: link

    Against the Falcons, no less, another black helmeted team.

    The ALSO wore that same exact combo (mono-black below the waist) last year as well: link

    Against the Steelers (another black helmeted team).

    They were *technically* not in violation of the alt shell restrictions, but still. They were able to do this by designating their black jersey (with silver helmet) as their primary AND designating their mono-black combo as their CR, thereby permitting the black (alt) shell.

    My only quibble with this very fun project is the rigidity of the pants pairing. For several of these, I think I’d like the third uniforms much, much more if paired with the color pants instead of the white. That aside, I’d love to see NFL uniform habits evolve in this direction.

    Not quite sure I follow. The two sets of pants can be paired with any of the jerseys/helmets/socks — they don’t need to be worn with the combos I’ve shown, per se. Or is your concern that I only include two different pants color options (and in the AFC East that includes white for all)? In other divisions, there will be teams for whom there is no white pants option — the AFCE now affords every team white pants, so I tried to keep it as much as possible with the current options. Can you elaborate a bit Scotty?

    The puke green Jets jersey and pastel orange for the Fins are a no go for me. They look like rejects from the XUSFL.

    Fair points, Tim, and I think I said I’d rather not have either team use their alt jersey if possible. But I’m trying to give every team enough options for the 2/3/2/3 concept — which even if adopted, I wouldn’t necessarily want to see.

    Just out of curiousity, if you had to have a new alternate (“medium” in my lexicon) jersey for either team, what color would you suggest?

    I’m down with the Pats white lids/white pants look!!!!! And, think the Bills should go with the red jersey/white pants look as well. But, would gladly sacrifice that one if they used the red helmet a and did a Jim Kelly era throwback.

    Love the concept! However, echoing others, I’m not a fan of the pastels for the Dolphins and Jets. I think “powder” versions of a team’s color works in baseball but just doesn’t click for me on a football jersey.

    I think for the “medium” color I’d rather see the Dolphins’ regular orange. I think there’d be enough contrast for color vs color when they face off with a blue or green team. And for the Jets, I’d like to see an option for the fighter jet grey look. I guess it is GFGS, but if we’d like to take another cue from soccer then it’s not uncommon for a club to have a completely different color for their third shirt.

    All that said, I’m really excited to see the rest of this series!

    Love the idea! My 2¢, unsolicited:
    1. STRIPED SOCKS! They wouldn’t clash and Lord knows the NFL would sell anything they could make a buck off. Stripes can be proprietary; plain-colored hosiery, not so much.
    2. On the flip side of Point 1, fans don’t generally wear football pants. So the idea of having multiple pants is less likely. Teams that can make use of yellow (Rams, Packers, Steelers… Commanders? Vikings?) or metallic (Saints, 49ers, Raiders, Bucs, Eagles, Patriots) can pair those pants with multiple jerseys.
    3. BUF: no changes
    4. MIA: throwbacks all the time, the current uniform is a Nikefied mess; aqua helmets would work better than orange (no clash with other teams); true orange would work better than pastel orange.
    5. NYJ: the Jets are one of the few teams that don’t need a 3rd color. But to conform to the rules of the project, why not gray? I don’t like gray for NFL teams but fighter jets are often gray. No BFBS, no pastel green.
    6: NE: you could go throwback white and throwback red and a navy 3rd, maybe red pants if you can’t make silver work.

Comments are closed.