Saturday, May 8, 2010
AFC East mailbag on your e-doorstep
Jared in Ann Arbor, Mich., unsurprisingly took exception to me listing Mark Sanchez ahead of Michigan alum Chad Henne in a ranking of AFC East quarterbacks. Jared asked me to consider which quarterback would fare better if we flipped supporting casts, claiming Sanchez had a better offense.
Henne versus Sanchez is a fun debate because they're the AFC East's top young franchise quarterbacks, but there's so much we don't know about them yet. Each is entering his second season as the starter, was inconsistent last year and showed tantalizing promise at times.
This year will give us a better idea of how good Sanchez and Henne can be, but all we have for the next few months is speculation.
Jared's suggestion is that Sanchez's receiving corps and offensive line were superior than what Henne had with the Dolphins. I agree the Jets had a better O-line. But Henne had more versatile options out of the backfield, and his receivers weren't that much worse. Sanchez started the season 3-1 -- the lone loss against the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome -- before Braylon Edwards arrived.
Even more important to me was how they finished. The composure Sanchez showed in the playoffs was impressive, regardless of how many times he was asked to throw. Skeptics like to note that down the homestretch he predominantly handed off and merely was a game manager in those victories. Isn't that how Bob Griese got into the Hall of Fame?
In defense of Henne over the final weeks, Dolfans mention he was without Ronnie Brown. That's true, but with the playoffs on the line, he was the quarterback when the Dolphins didn't come through.
Henne might turn out to be twice the quarterback as Sanchez is, but for now I have to give the nod to the guy who has won a couple playoff games already and had a 92.7 postseason passer rating.
Kevin in Modesto, Calif., was curious if the Bills would be interested in unrestricted free agent center Kevin Mawae.
Mawae still has a little left to give despite being 39 years old. But I don't see him fitting into the Bills' rebuilding plans. They're making long-range roster moves. Mawae would be a short-timer, the type of player who would be attractive to a contending team with a sudden need at center. To bring in a guy like Mawae might do the Bills' locker room some good, but I can't see him fitting into the master plan.
Bill in Wellesley, Mass., was curious about the Patriots situation at tight end and whether Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are the answers.
Between the two of them, I would bet the Patriots have addressed that position for years to come. They both present uncertainties though. Gronkowski already has undergone serious lumbar spine surgery, and back injuries for a rugged player such as him could be problematic. There have been multiple reports of Hernandez's marijuana problems at Florida. But each has upside. Gronkowski was considered the best all-around tight end in the draft pool, while Hernandez was considered the best receiver. Those two, plus veteran Alge Crumpler, comprise a group with an excellent outlook.
Michael in Tulsa, Okla., and Wood in Elkridge, Md., saw an item I wrote about the Dolphins using less Wildcat now that they have Brandon Marshall and wanted to play devil's advocate.
I theorized the Dolphins would be less likely to run the Wildcat because it would render their greatest weapon, Marshall, moot for those plays. They’re going to want teams to fear Henne-to-Marshall hookups on every snap.
But Michael and Wood shared the same thought: Use Marshall as the motion back instead of Ricky Williams.
"The reason I suggest Marshall doing this is because he is the hardest receiver to tackle," Michael submitted. "He plays wide receiver like a running back."
While that's an intriguing thought and Marshall has rushed seven times for 39 yards, I highly doubt the Dolphins would allow defenses to regularly gang tackle a receiver they signed to a four-year, $47.5 million contract extension.
Hans in San Francisco and Tasso from Oceanside, Calif., were among the many who wrote in to correct a mistake I made in Thursday's feature on Bills rookie Ed Wang.
In it, I erroneously referred to Yao Ming as the NBA's first Chinese player. In fact, it was Wang Zhixhi, who debuted with the Dallas Mavericks two seasons before Ming established himself as a star for the Houston Rockets.