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Monday, January 12, 2009
AFC East mailbag on your doorstep


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Let's kick off this week's mailbag with some feedback to a post I wrote on former Buffalo Bills receiver Andre Reed's credentials for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Shane in Syracuse, N.Y., writes: It's clear that you bring a Bills bias to your ESPN blog, probably over-compensating for your years at the Buffalo News. You're not struck by greatness when looking at Andre Reed? Please. He was a main cog in an almost unprecedentedly efficient offensive machine. Any good reporter knows that when looking at statistics he has to count for inflation. Comparing him to Kennan McCardell is just maddening. Your blog becomes less impressive with each passing month... Hockey/Boxing writer turned ESPN corporate blogging hack!

Tim Graham: Perhaps I failed in my delivery because the entire premise of my post about Reed's credentials was about inflation. And I didn't compare him toKeenan McCardell, Derrick Mason or Larry Centers . I compared Reed's stats to theirs. When people look back on Reed's career, he will be hurt by the fact receptions aren't as hard to come by anymore. Sorry if that offends you, but it's the truth.


James in Endicott, N.Y., writes: Sir: Reed was the dominate receiver on the dominate team of his era. While some may equal, nobody has ever bettered his YAC ability. Let's get to the heart of it here--just like making T.Thomas wait, yes, even one year--this is about disrespecting the Bills of that era. And that's just nonsense. I'm not going to get into a deep defense of those teams--let's just start with the NFC teams they beat on the road in that era--and you can go from there. All I saw was greatness, my friend.

Tim Graham: If you're convinced there's a conspiracy by the Hall of Fame electors to make Buffalo Bills wait for enshrinement, then all I can say is I hope you avoid those dastardly alien probes I've been hearing so much about in the Southern Tier.


Darren from Parts Unknown writes: > Andre was considered the best RAC receiver in the league behind Jerry Rice. > Defensively teams game planned to stop Andre Reed unsuccessfully every week. > For years the Bills next leading receiver behind Andre Reed wasn't even a WR (Thurman Thomas). > For years Andre Reed didn't have that "second receiver" to take the coverages away from him. (i.e. Rice-Taylor, Irvin-Harper, etc.) Cris Carter was able to get the majority of his catches because he had Anthony Carter, Jake Reed and Randy Moss on the other side. > He is part of the best QB-WR tandem in football history

Tim Graham: I don't disagree. But for a little context -- and to play devil's advocate because I enjoy it -- opponents game plan for Derrick Mason every week, it wasn't uncommon for running backs (Roger Craig, Keith Byars, Ronnie Harmon, Centers, et al) to have a lot of catches back then, and Mark Clayton (not in the Hall of Fame) is half of one of the NFL's greatest passer-catcher tandems.

That said, Reed belongs in the Hall of Fame.


Rick in Lowell, Mass., writes: If you're the Detroit Lions and you hold the #1 pick and the 15th pick, and most are saying you are going to spend one of the 2 on a QB, what do you think about taking a stud OT at #1(look at the last two years drafts and tell me the Lions wouldn't KILL to have Joe Thomas or Jake Long) then trade your pick to NE for Matt Cassel. Not a hypothetical "guy like cassel vs. unproven rookie" question. I'm asking you who you'd rather have on your team...Matt Cassel, or whatever young QB in this years draft you like the most? The Lions are in a great spot to trade because they have 2 first rounders, so they could still get the best OT in the draft, and FINALLY have a talented young QB to throw balls to your stud WR. What do you think?

Tim Graham: You've done more Lions draft preparation in one mailbag post that Matt Millen did the past four years. You raise an intriguing possibility. The problem is, the Patriots probably can't afford to trade Cassel before the draft. The main reason to franchise Cassel is to be an insurance policy for Tom Brady. April likely is too soon to know how that surgically mended left knee will hold up. If the Patriots trade Cassel, odds are it will happen over the summer.


Davin in Brooklyn, N.Y., writes: Hey Tim, love your work. I've been following the Jets disappointing season and now am looking forward to the draft for some impact players for the squad. However, the Vilma and Robertson trades last year had multiple stipulations and are a bit confusing to follow, (especially the Saints promising their second round pick to the JETS and Giants). I was hoping you can clarify where the Jets are picking in the draft next year.

Tim Graham: The New Orleans Saints acquired linebacker Jonathan Vilma from the Jets for a conditional draft pick. It started out as a fourth-rounder, but already has been upgraded to a third-rounder because Vilma played in more than 85 percent of the Saints' defensive snaps. Vilma is a free agent, but if the Saints re-sign him before the market opens Feb. 27, then the Jets will receive the Saints' second-round pick, and the New York Giants would get the Saints' first-round pick as part of the Jeremy Shockey trade. Don't count on that happening. The Saints want their first-round pick.

As for defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson, the Denver Broncos don't have to compensate the Jets because he didn't play 65 percent of the defensive snaps as stipulated. Robertson played in closer to 50 percent of the plays.


Mike in Kuwait writes: Do you think the Pats will win the East next year. With or without Brady I still think they are the team to beat. Injuries killed them this year. This is what I have: Pats 12-4 Miami 10-6 Jets 9-7 Buff 6-10

Tim Graham: The AFC East will be wide open again next year. I do think the Patriots and Dolphins will slug it out, but your records look a little ambitious to me. The AFC East will play the AFC South and NFC South next year.


Jan from Parts Unknown writes: Hey Tim...while i can agree with some of your evauluation of the Jets, you
made no mention of there defense in the last 5 games. Jenkins was dominate MVP early then after Titans game a total non-factor and just a big body. They're defense was stopping now one or getting any sacks. At least 3 of the games during that last stretch they had games where the opponents offense were dominating time of pocession, they're safeties where terrible even in double coverage. And also evident is that Jet receivers have no size,strength, or break away speak to get seperation was extremely notable. And why did they stop throwing to rookie TE Keller and involve Washington more..?? But you lay it all on Brett...you left so much on the table and didn't mention...WHY?

Tim Graham: Two touchdowns, nine interceptions in the last five games. You're right to say there are other reasons the Jets disintegrated, but none was more glaring than Brett Favre's poor performance down the stretch with the season on the line -- repeatedly.


Tony from Parts Unknown writes: Why don't they hold off to the end of the season before they vote for the top player's in the NFL like all the other sports. Thier were player's and coach's that were screwed and ones that recieved awards that shouldn't of, rookie's that were named rookie of the year and coach's that got coach of the year that played like rookie's and other's that are still playing.

Tim Graham: There's a belief, and I happen to agree, that players who reach the postseason would receive an unfair advantage in balloting. These awards are given out for regular-season performances, and the playoffs would tilt the process. Few could argue Peyton Manning was the MVP this year, but the Indianapolis Colts were knocked out in the first round. All of a sudden, Manning doesn't look as good compared to another star player who would mount a deep playoff run.

I also disagree with your statement that undeserving players were honored. Across the board, I thought every Associated Press award was justified. There were some wacky votes in the runner-up results, but the winners were proper.


Frank in Wilton, Conn., writes: You're crazy if you really think Jets fans, "deep down inside wish they had Pennington back in green and white!" Chad is a great guy, and can complete lots and lots of short passes. But when the stakes are the highest, he will always throw a killer interception. Clearly Favre was not the answer this year, but it was absolutely time for the Jets to move on from Chad Pennington!

Tim Graham: If I polled 100 sober Jets fans, knowing what they know now, if they would rather have had Pennington or Favre as their quarterback for 2008, I would be shocked if three of them would take 9-7, missing the playoffs and a team in disarray over another year with Pennington. The Favre experiment caused the Jets to regress as an organization.


Joe from New Jersey writes: Hey Tim, I'm a 3 year Jets fan now and I've been following your blog for about a year now. Since the compass seems to suggest that Brett Favre will retire after this season, it's obvious the Jets are going to need a new QB. Here's my question, would it be feasible that they might look at David Carr? He was a #1 prospect back in the day, and had not been sacked so much, he probably could have been pretty decent. In his few showings with the Giants, he's done pretty well. Should/would the Jets ever look at him as a potential?

Tim Graham: See why I used the qualifier "sober" in answering the previous question? Just kidding, Joe. I see where you're going with your suggestion of David Carr, but he would be slightly more acceptable from a marketing standpoint than a leper with bad credit. The Jets might look at a journeyman such as Carr as a backup who could start in a pinch, but they wouldn't pursue him as their starter.


Nick in Buffalo, N.Y., writes: they shut down your friday chat because there is no afc east action? weak sauce..

Tim Graham: No, the chat wasn't canceled because all of the AFC East teams are on golf courses or boats somewhere. I'll continue to do my chats whenever possible throughout the offseason, but Friday's chat was scrubbed because of a travel conflict. I was on my way to Nashville for the Ravens-Titans game at the time.


Josh in Norfolk, Va., writes: Mr. Graham, the two teams I wanted to see do well are out: the Atlanta Falcons and my Miami Dolphins. A few weeks ago I asked you what you thought of my favorite wide receiver, Devone Bess, and his potential. This was around the time Greg Camarillo went down with his season ending injury. You said it was to early to tell due to lack of playing time. I am happier than ever with his performance, even in our loss yesterday. When he broke that 45 yard screen, and Ed Reed's (who had a phenomenal day) ankles, I almost fell out my chair. Well, I just want to reiterate my past question and see what you think of Devone's potential. Do you think he'll be a starter for us or even our go to receiver? Or will he even be with us?

Tim Graham: Davone Bess is going to be a Dolphin for a long time. Teams fall in love with the hidden gems they uncover, and Bess is the first one for Miami's new front office. Not only did he have the best season of any undrafted rookie, but he also outperformed several receivers who were taken on the first day of the draft. Bess doesn't possess breakaway speed, but he has all the other tools to be a quality receiver for many years.


Max in Miami writes: I've been hearing rumors that Parcells may trade a first round pick for Anquan Boldin, or possibly attempting to get a big play receiver in the first round. What are your thoughts and have you heard something similar? Max

Tim Graham: I've heard nothing of the sort.


Steve in Fort Myers, Fla., writes: If you leave the AFC East and go north it'll be very sad.........

Tim Graham: I'm not going anywhere. I'm just being pimped out to the AFC North blog for the playoffs.


Noah in Okinawa, Japan, writes: Tim, I just wanted to announce my choice to strongly stay with the Chad Pennington bandwagon despite his poor performance in the wildcard playoff game. Pennington is the only reason the Dolphins were even placed in a position to lose on Sunday, and this season has been one of the most exciting I remember in Dolphin history, all things to him. I'm currently serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Japan, and Dolphin games are broadcast LIVE over here at 3 am Monday morning, which I religiously wake up for. That's a dramatic departure from just one year ago, a season during which I couldn't avert my eyes from Dolphin games much like one can't avert their eyes from a train crash or Kathy Griffin's standu
p. Let me just be the first to thank Chad for all the good times, and I hope he stays a part of the organization for many more years to come.

Tim Graham: Thank you, Noah, on three levels: for the long-distance dedication; for serving our country; for taking a run at Kathy Griffin, the female Pauly Shore.


Cody in Elmira, N.Y., writes: Hey Graham nice job with the Blog, always very informitive. What position do you think the Patriots will go after with their first round pick? Could they possibly get Brandon Spikes of Florida? Thanks for takeing the time to read my e-mail.

Tim Graham: I appreciate the compliment, Cody. Hope you keep stopping by. The status of Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli could influence what they do in the draft, but probably not much because Bill Belichick has final say anyway.

I'm not sure how the draft is going to shake out, but Florida Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes could be available when the Patriots draft 23rd overall. Scouts Inc. happens to rate Spikes No. 23 on its latest list of prospects.


Eddie from Parts Unknown writes: Tim, I wish you and everyone else would realize and see that Chad was not the problem on Sunday. Without a true #1 receiver and somewhat of a makeshift line they did not have a chance. I also for the first time this year questioned the play calling. In my opinion the Ravens D is the best in the NFL. I am a true Dolfan and see all the improvements but Sunday was clear as a bell there needs to be improvements on the Oline and Dline. No pass rush at all.

Tim Graham: The Dolphins are not an elite team and entered the playoffs as perhaps the most vulnerable AFC opponent. There are several ways to improve the roster on both sides of the ball and special teams. But when the quarterback throws only three fewer interceptions in one playoff game than he threw the entire regular season, then the loss hangs on him.


Daniel in Seattle writes: Tim, Been reading you all season, and I have to say, you give the best reading by any national journalist-ne Blogger on what is happening with the Bills. While there have been times I have been annoyed by what you have said, I cannot disagree with what you have said, so behind Dr. Z your my favorite read. I have a favor to ask, while the postseason is underway, and Juniors are still thinking about declaring, the amount of mock drafts out in cyberspace is starting to grow. About 95% of them are completely mis-reading the Bills situation. Many are saying we take a DB, or a LB, when we have as a team many more holes to fill. These "experts" really need to spend some time checking out sites like www.buffalorumblings.com which are run by very knowledgeable fans who take long hard looks at the players on the roster and the likelihood of improvement in the draft and FA. I sincerely hope I won't see you make the same mistakes as many of your brethren out there when we get closer to the draft. In fact, I can gurantee you won't, your just too smart to do that! -Dan

Tim Graham: I'm floored by your kind words, Dan. That's the first time -- and probably the last -- I will be mentioned in the same sentence as Dr. Z. Unless, of course, it's a press box attendant yelling "Tim Graham, please stop drooling on Dr. Z's black book!" So I see through your obvious attempt to plug a Web site. But I visit Buffalo Rumblings and find it entertaining and informative. I will allow it.