Tuesday, October 18, 2011
AFC East Stock Watch
By James Walker
1. Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins head coach: A national audience witnessed the end of an era in Miami. Even with two weeks of preparation, Sparano failed to accomplish anything against a division rival -- the New York Jets -- and fell to 0-5 on the season. Sparano entered the year on the hot seat and suffered his eighth consecutive loss. Miami owner Stephen Ross has publicly backed Sparano, but Sparano is heading toward his third consecutive losing season. Now the owner is expected to cut bait barring a sudden and unexpected turnaround.
2. Buffalo Bills' defense: It's been a season-long issue, but the Bills' defense is only recently getting bad press after the team lost two of the last three. Buffalo allowed 400 yards for the fifth consecutive game in a 27-24 loss to the New York Giants. The Bills also failed to force a turnover for the first time this season. Buffalo's defensive issues are plentiful. The Bills struggle stopping the run, allow too many big passing plays and can't generate a pass-rush. Buffalo has two weeks to work on these issues during the bye week.
3. Matt Moore, Dolphins quarterback: The Matt Moore era in Miami didn't get off to a good start. He threw for 204 yards and two interceptions in a 24-6 loss to the New York Jets. Moore, like former starter Chad Henne, struggled most in clutch situations. Miami was 2-for-12 on third down and 0-for-3 in the red zone. Moore also was sacked four times. The Dolphins can't win many games with this kind of performance from their starting quarterback.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis had two picks in a primetime win against the Dolphins.
1. Darrelle Revis, New York Jets cornerback: Revis showed on "Monday Night Football" why he is, in my opinion, the best cornerback in the NFL. Revis had a high-profile matchup with Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall and recorded a pair of interceptions. One was returned for a 100-yard touchdown and changed the momentum in New York's favor. Revis also recorded three tackles and had four passes defensed. Most teams avoid throwing at Revis. The Dolphins were one of the few to test the Pro Bowl corner and paid for it.
2. New England Patriots' defense: The Patriots are quietly fixing their much-maligned defense. New England has allowed just 37 points in two games. The defense kept the Patriots in the game this past weekend when the offense struggled for three quarters against the Dallas Cowboys. Stopping the run has been key. New England is allowing an average of 87 rushing yards per game the past two weeks. Patriots coach Bill Belichick now has a bye to make further improvements.
3. Calvin Pace, Jets linebacker: Revis wasn't the only Jets defender who had a big game. New York linebacker Calvin Pace was all over the field. He recorded seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. The Jets' defense finally looked like the top unit it was the past two years under head coach Rex Ryan. Miami was an easy opponent. The Jets' defense must continue this improvement with a tough upcoming schedule.