Friday, October 14, 2011
Mailbag: Bills division champs?
By James Walker
Let's check our AFC East mailbag.
Chazz Steiner from San Antonio, Texas, wants to know if the Miami Dolphins would be better off targeting Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn over Stanford's Andrew Luck.
James Walker: The Dolphins, if given the chance with the top pick, should take Luck, Chazz. No questions asked. Flynn looked good in the preseason, but he is a former seventh-round pick and still a bit of an unknown. Luck is an unknown, too. But many scouts believe he could be a special talent that you can build a franchise around. You don't pass on that if you're Miami.
Paul from Everett, Mass., writes: What if Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore fails?
Walker: Miami signed veteran backup Sage Rosenfels for insurance, Paul. Moore and Rosenfels doesn't exactly strike fear in opponents. But I was in Miami's locker room this week, and players had good things to say about Moore. We will have a story on Miami's new quarterback this weekend (hint, hint).
Daniel from Port Allegany, Pa., writes: Do you think it's too bold for a Bills fan to think that the AFC East title will be on the line Jan. 1 at Gillette Stadium?
Walker: Slow down, Daniel. That's pretty bold. There's a lot of football left to play. I don't think the division is going to come down to that New Year's Day game. Barring injury, I still peg the New England Patriots as the favorites to win 11-13 games. I don't think Buffalo can keep pace with that. But there is a good chance at least one team will have some playoff implications on the line in that game. The NFL scheduled division games at the end of the year to make them more meaningful.
Tom from Southwest Ranches, Fla., writes: The Bills are dragging their feet on signing Fitz right now. Do you think he would make an attractive free agent QB or is he just a product of a good thing with this offense and Chan Gailey right now?
Walker: I think it's a little bit of both. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a journeyman quarterback who couldn't cut it with other teams. But he's a great fit for the Bills and their spread system, and that's what matters. I think Buffalo will work out an agreement with Fitzpatrick at some point. He's worth more to the Bills than to any other team.
John The Pats Fan Richmond, Va., wants to know what the contract status of Patriots receiver Wes Welker is.
Walker: Welker is in the final year of his contract. I recently mentioned in the blog that New England should extend Welker's contract sooner than later, because the price tag continues to go up during his monster season. But the Patriots are not in a rush. New England wants Welker, and Welker wants to stay in New England. So things most likely will work out. It's more of an issue of "when," not "if."
Graham Stott via Twitter writes: Do you see the Patriots doing any dealing before the trade deadline to improve the defense?
Walker: The Patriots could use another body or two on the defensive line. But I don't see New England making a trade. This time of year, most teams want draft picks before the trade deadline. The Patriots rarely trade draft picks for players. They prefer to acquire picks.
Marc from Hoboken, N.J., wants to know how concerned Jets fans should be with the offensive line.
Walker: I would say very concerned, Marc. Even Jets receiver Santonio Holmes is concerned. The Jets are losing for a variety of reasons. But I would peg the offensive line as the biggest reason the team is on a three-game losing streak. The Jets can't run consistently or protect Mark Sanchez most weeks. What are they to do? The strange thing is that we saw plenty of hints this could happen in the preseason. But we chose to ignore it, thinking it would be corrected when the games counted. That hasn't been the case.
Spyder from Santa Fe, N.M., wants my take on New York Jets rookie defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson.
Walker: As a Temple alum, I've been watching Wilkerson for a couple years now. He was a man among boys in the Mid-American Conference, and now his abilities are really being challenged in the pros. You see flashes of what he can do, such as his safety against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But the defensive end position in the 3-4 thrives off consistency, and that's where Wilkerson needs to improve. Wilkerson can make splashy plays. But I want to see him be more stout and hard to move against the run. There have been a lot of gaps in the running game against New York's defense in recent weeks.
Comment and complaint department
Chuck from Vero, Fla., writes: All I hear now from friends of mine that are Dolphin fans and articles about the Dolphins is that Chad Henne is not the answer and we should "Suck for Luck." Has anyone actually given Henne a chance besides the organization? It’s not his fault that the team is this bad right now. Henne is Big Ben of the Dolphins. That's how I see it. He was doing so much better before he was lost to shoulder surgery. Dolphins need to bring him back and need a new coaching staff. If they want to draft another QB then draft someone later in the draft. There are much more glaring holes to fix than QB like our secondary especially free safety. Strong safety is secure but (Yeremiah) Bell isn't getting any younger. This organization makes me feel embarrassed to be a Dolphins fan. I still support them but I'm given up on the season.
Walker: Your plan for the Dolphins is definitely in the minority, Chuck. As I mentioned before, the Dolphins can't pass on Luck if given the opportunity to draft him next April. Henne is a free agent coming off a season-ending injury. He showed strides in four games — but not enough to warrant building your franchise around. Miami tried that route for four years; it didn't work. Also, no offense to Henne, but I covered Ben Roethlisberger for three years, which included two Super Bowl runs, and Henne is not the "Big Ben of the Dolphins." I almost made you "Homer of the Week" for that comment, Chuck.
Christian Q from Tampa, Fla., writes: As a life-long fan, the decade demise that has been the Dolphins has been difficult to tolerate. The latest blow definitely has to be that in two weeks we may very well be honoring the visiting team's starting QB. I don't even know how to feel anymore!
Walker: Yeah, I thought the Tim Tebow thing was a little strange when the Dolphins announced it this summer. It was an odd promotion in theory and geographically. It's only worse now that Tebow is the starter in Denver. But promotions are not what's going to turn the Dolphins around. The team needs to win games and win at home to bring fans back to Sun Life Stadium.
Ed Cucci from Manchester, N.H., writes: Why do so many in the media make so much out of meaningless statistic "Yards Per Game?" Yards mean nothing. Games are decided on points. You can give as many yards as you want as long as you don't give up a lot of scores, and that how it has always been with Patriots. They are 4-1 because they score more points than their opponent and score when they need to. In fact, there are 14 teams that given up more points that the Patriots including the NY Jets who are "supposed" to have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Huh? The Saints have too. How come you never hear about them having a bad defense? So when you claim they have the worst defense, it's not true at all. You should write a little ditty about how useless the "yards" stat really is. It's all about the points baby!
Walker: While I agree that the scoreboard is what matters most, Ed, that doesn't make yards allowed meaningless. Truth be told, I think Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is New England's best defense right now. He's been so good that it puts pressure on opposing offenses to keep up, and at times, makes teams one-dimensional. I don't think the Patriots' defense can carry the team right now without Brady.
A.J. from Virginia Beach, Va., writes: Why is everyone writing off the Bills still? I understand people think we haven't played anyone but we've beaten a Chiefs team before their momentum went completely away, a Raiders team that many are pegging as legitimate, Patriots who are top-3 in the NFL to most, and now the Eagles who despite their start clearly have talent. Not only that but Fitzpatrick looks better than ever and this team is for real! Go Bills!
Walker: I'm not sure people are writing off the Bills anymore, A.J. There were some questions after the Bengals loss. But a good, bounce-back performance against the Eagles quieted most of the critics. I think they have a good shot for at least the wild card thanks to their fast start.
Norm from, Oneida, N.Y., writes: James, you need to go to all the Bills games this year or at least the big ones. Bills beat the Pats and Eagles while you were at the game. Come on you know you want to go to the Buffalo Bills vs. New Jersey Giants next week.
Walker: I see people won't let the New York/New Jersey thing go in the AFC East, Norm. I won't take credit for the Bills starting 4-1. But I will be at the Bills-Giants game Sunday, as well as the Dolphins-Jets game on Monday. I'm looking forward to a fun weekend of AFC East football.
If you have any questions, comments or complaints, feel free to send them to our AFC East inbox.