Saturday, November 5, 2011
Walker's weekend mailbag
By James Walker
Let's see what's in the weekend mailbag.
Brian from Berlin, Germany, writes: Do you think the New England Patriots (5-2) will be able to rebound against the New York Giants (5-2) this week?
James Walker: Yes, New England will rebound, Brian. For starters, the Patriots rarely lose at home. Second, they haven't loss back-to-back games since 2009. Patriots coach Bill Belichick knows how to get his team to respond. Also, I'm not very high on the Giants. They have a good record. But they are banged-up and one of the NFL's most overrated teams, in my opinion. I don't think New York is sound in enough areas to beat New England.
Ozzie from Brooklyn, N.Y., writes: Do you think the Patriots are going to make a move to strengthen the secondary or is Belichick going to work with what he's got?
Walker: The Patriots are going to stick with what they have, Ozzie. I don't agree with the recent personnel decisions Belichick made at corner. The timing was odd. But New England has to work with it. There are no Pro Bowl corners sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. Ty Law is not coming out of retirement to save the Patriots.
Patrick from Philadelphia, Pa., writes: Back in 2008 the Bills also had a strong start at 5-1. What differences in the team do you see that will keep them from falling to that same 7-9 record?
Walker: Leadership and stability at quarterback, Patrick. That is the biggest thing Buffalo has that it didn't have then. Ryan Fitzpatrick still has to prove he deserves to be in the second tier of quarterbacks under Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. But I think "Fitz" is pretty good, especially for the scheme Buffalo likes to run. This team is hungry, as well. There are lot of players with a lot to prove. As long as the Bills don't have significant injuries, they will be better than 7-9.
Sam Hill from Newport News, Virginia, writes: Do you think Marcell Dareus is a better NT than Kyle Williams? Would it be beneficial for the Bills to convert to a 4-3 next year to have those two studs on the field at the same time?
Walker: Williams is a Pro Bowler when healthy, Sam. So it's too soon to rank Dareus up there after one game at nose tackle. Dareus has the potential to be a Pro Bowler, and I think Buffalo should keep him at nose tackle until Williams is 100 percent. I don't know if that will happen for Williams (foot) this year. As far as switching to a 4-3, Buffalo has 3-4 personnel and it would be some growing pains and roster turnover to change that. Look at what New England is going through this year. It's not worth it. Dareus and Williams can still share the field. The Bills also can run 4-3 looks at times during the course of a game without completely changing their scheme.
Jeremy from Lakeport, Calif., writes: I know its still early, but humor us Dolfans. Given the factors beyond the win/loss record if the draft were conducted today, who would pick first Indy or Miami?
Walker: You're right, Jeremy. It's a looong way to go. But right now Miami looks much closer to winning its first game than Indianapolis. The Dolphins outplayed a 5-2 Giants team for three quarters last week. I wouldn't be surprised if Miami gets a win first. But it will close.
Joshua from Spokane, Wash., writes: Do you think it would be possible for the Colts to draft Andrew Luck, then trade Peyton Manning to the Dolphins? If so how much would the Dolphins have to give?
Walker: That's not happening, Joshua. Manning is not finishing his career with the Dolphins, and the Dolphins are not giving up multiple first-round picks. Miami's best plan is to start over and get Luck.
Phil from Hauppauge, N.Y., writes: So if the Colts cut Manning loose in March to save the roster bonus would the New York Jets be a possible site for him next year? He'd get his best chance at another ring and the Jets get their best shot as well.
Walker: Everyone in the AFC East wants Peyton Manning this week. What's up with that? Manning is not coming to the Jets, either, Phil. But I agree that would instantly make the Jets a Super Bowl contender. The team is going with Mark Sanchez as its long-term quarterback. The Jets have made zero indication otherwise.
Matt W from Bergen County, N.J., writes: What do you think the chances are that the Jets will use LaDainian Tomlinson more in the running game throughout the second half of the year?
Walker: I suggested this weeks ago and New York didn't follow, Matt. So I don't see it happening. If anything, the coaching staff is really high on Joe McKnight. I think he can see more reps on offense in the coming weeks. McKnight has a burst to complement Shonn Greene's power.
Anthony from New Jersey writes: Do you think your harsh remarks on Matt Cassel & Kevin Kolb are premature? Especially considering Kolb has only played six games in Arizona.
Walker: Nope, I stand by my comments. Matt Cassel and Kevin Kolb are not elite, franchise quarterbacks. They're not good enough to lead their teams to a Super Bowl, which is what $10-$11 million per year would suggest.
Comment and complaint department
Nick from Albany, N.Y., writes: James, the Bills are 5-2, have already beaten the Patriots and lead the division in both scoring offense (30.9 points/game) and scoring defense (21.0 points/game). If they beat the Jets on Sunday, we'd all have to consider them the best team in the AFC East, right?
Walker: Not so fast, Nick. I don't want to go too heavy on the best this and best that. But beating the Jets won’t cement Buffalo as the best team in the AFC East. The Bills won't win the division this weekend. They still have a return meeting against the Patriots in New England. I think that's the game where Buffalo can make the biggest statement. The teams have similar records.
Scott from Fairfield, Conn., writes: I was wondering if you think the Jets have a chance to win the division this year. I believe that if Rex has super bowl expectations, the Jets have to get home field advantage in the playoffs. With home-field advantage and the way they are playing at home right now, I believe this could be a tough team to beat at Met Life Stadium.
Walker: I'm not ready to give the AFC East to the Jets, either, Scott. New England has been my pick to win the division from the start and I'm sticking to that. Of course, the Jets are only one game out so they have a chance, too. But I think New York or Buffalo will battle for the wild card, while the Patriots take the division.
Chuck Roberts from Franklin, Va., writes: I wasn't banking on Bill Cowher. Having said that, there will be a new staff in Miami next year. What is your opinion of the following for head coach: Brian Billick, Jon Gruden, Marty Shottenheimer? Or do they go after a young hot assistant?
Walker: I would say Gruden is clearly the best out of that group, if they can get him. I also would throw Jeff Fisher's name in the mix. He's a good, veteran coach. If Miami can't get those two or Bill Cowher, I think the Dolphins should settle for the top assistant coach. I don't think Billick and Shottenheimer are the answer. There's a reason both have been on the market for so long.
AFC East Homer of the Week
We have another Dolphins fan to make our latest Homer of the Week.
Mark Brennan from New York, NY, writes: An optimistic Dolphins fan needs to be represented somewhere on this earth. I firmly believe that the ownership and the fans are largely at fault for the failures of the past two seasons. Neither Sparano nor Henne have been given a fair shot because they've both spent the last two seasons worrying about their job security. Sanchez isn't a great QB, but you give him the ball and say "you are the quarterback." As with any job, if your boss and the people around you are constantly making you feel inept, your work will suffer. Give Sparano and Henne (when he gets healthy) some confidence, and this team would be in much better shape.
Walker: I don't know where these Sparano and Chad Henne supporters come from. The Dolphins are 0-7 and have lost their last 10 games. Sparano and Henne are clearly not the answer to turn Miami around in 2012. Mark, congrats on being our AFC East Homer of the Week.
If you have an additional questions, comments or complaints, send them to our AFC East inbox.