Saturday, April 21, 2012
Walker's weekend mailbag
By James Walker
The NFL draft is just a few days away. Let’s check to see what’s in our AFC East inbox this week.
Mike Mercer from Virginia Beach, Va., writes: The Bills were devastated by injuries last year. Have they ever come up with a reason that they are one of the most injured teams in the NFL every year? Have they taken any steps to try an prevent that this year?
James Walker: Good question, Mike. This is something that is tough to address, because injuries happen to every team -- some more than others. I remember my time in the AFC North covering the Cincinnati Bengals, and every year they were among the league leaders on putting players on Injured Reserve. There really is no set answer for injuries. That is going to happen to every team, every year. But I do think some teams treat injuries better than others. I haven’t covered the Bills long enough to get a feel for their medical staff.
Tom Z from Northern PA writes: What do you see as a bigger need for defense on the bills team, LB or CB?
Walker: Probably cornerback, Tom. Buffalo is pretty thin at linebacker, but I think the new-look defensive line is going to make that group look a lot better. Corners are on an island and Buffalo couldn’t guard anyone consistently last season. The Bills need play-makers more at corner.
Mark writes: Any chance LaDainian Tomlinson or Yeremiah Bell come to Foxboro?
Walker: No on Tomlinson with the New England Patriots, Mark. He is all but retired and the Patriots already have a stable of running backs. Bell is a possibility. The Patriots need help at safety. But New England is going to see if it can get a safety in the draft first.
Conor Murray from Ireland writes: What are the chances that the Pats use both first round picks this year or will that only be decided as the draft unfolds?
Walker: We did a poll on this in the AFC East blog and a majority voted New England would trade back, Conor. That’s been the trend. But every year is a new year. I have a feeling New England will use the picks this year. This team is not far away.
Daniel from Tucson, Ariz., writes: I am originally from Miami and am an avid Dolphin fan. Even though all the talk there is on Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland, no one talks about Joe Philbin, what do you think of him as a head-coach?
Walker: Well, I have to see him coach a game first, Daniel. All kidding aside, Philbin seems to have a good grasp and mentality of a head coach. But none of that really matters in the offseason. Philbin can only be graded once the bullets start flying. A jump from a coordinator to head coach is probably the toughest in the NFL. A lot more things come across your desk, and Philbin has to prove he can handle it.
Nick from Westerville, Ohio, writes: Is Cameron Wake going to be traded before draft day because of his holdout?
Walker: That’s not in the cards, Nick. Wake is Miami’s best pass-rusher and the team can’t afford to lose him. I think something eventually gets worked out. But it won’t be easy considering the Dolphins’ cap situation.
Neal from Queens, N.Y., writes: Could you see Asante Samuel as a safety for the Jets? And why is it taking Burress so long to find a new team? No interest? If so, do you see a return to the Jets?
Walker: No way. Samuel is not a strong enough tackler to play safety. His tackling is a shade better than Jets corner Antonio Cromartie. That wouldn’t work.
Comment and complaint department
We have several comments and complaints this week in the AFC East blog.
Christian Moody from Lafayette, Fla., writes: OK, I have two questions. One is when you write a blog about a team, especially when that team is where you live, aren't you supposed to brag on them instead of bagging on them? That's stupid. Number two, you say the Dolphins don't look that good this year? Well, seeing that they have one of the best running backs in the NFL, a veteran quarterback that they just signed this year, a possible chance at Ryan Tannehill, and then they can get a receiver and lineman in the draft I think their in pretty good shape.
Walker: Christian, a lot of people misinterpret my job as a blogger for the AFC East. I provide news, analysis and opinions on all four teams. This is a zero homerism blog. There is plenty of places for "rah rah" coverage on the internet. My opinions and analysis are going to be honest, based on how I think all four teams are currently doing. For example, when the Bills stunk it up in the second half of last season, I ripped them. When Buffalo had a great offseason, I praised them. It's pretty simple from my perspective, but I'm surprised how many readers don't see it this clearly. I don't "brag" for the home team. I live in Miami, but I'm not a fan of the Dolphins or any NFL team.
Diana from Pennsylvania writes: Why should Darrelle Revis step up to the leadership role when the coach doesn't even have control? What is going to build from? There is no unity and we see that clear as day. So why would you put it on one player? Everyone is accountable for their behavior as professionals.
Walker: This is in relation to a Jets/lack of leadership column that I wrote this offseason. Good comments, Diana, but I mostly disagree. The first point I want to make is I listed Revis with two other high-profile Jets (Mark Sanchez and Nick Mangold) who need to step up with leadership. I never put it on one player. But I did write Revis is, by far, the team’s best player, and he needs to become a more assertive leader. Ray Lewis would not let what happened in New York’s locker room happen in Baltimore. Tom Brady would not allow the Jets’ shenanigans to persists in New England. Players would listen to the soft-spoken Revis in the same way, but he must speak up. Leading by example is not good enough for a veteran player of Revis’ caliber. Revis -- along with Sanchez and Mangold -- should be more responsible for keeping everyone in line next season.
Chuck Shepherd from Cincinnati, Ohio, writes: Just wanted to say I enjoyed the irony of seeing the second post about a player who isn't even in the top 20 players in the division titled "Is Tim Tebow's celebrity out of control?" Well played, sir.
Walker: Sometimes you have to poke fun at yourself. I figured that was a clever way to do it.
AFC East Homer of the Week
This week's selected homer from our AFC inbox is a Bills fan. Enjoy.
Sawyer from New York, N.Y., writes: Close your eyes for a moment and imagine what the World would look like if the Buffalo Bills won the Super Bowl. So glorious, so beautiful! I know the Cubs technically have the longest drought, and I may be bias, but in terms of sheer bliss per person - don't you think a Buffalo Bills Super Bowl victory tops all?
Walker: Sawyer, sorry to ruin your blissful moment. But the Bills are not winning a Super Bowl this upcoming season. They are my sleeper pick to do some damage, and perhaps that got you excited with potentially seeing Buffalo in New Orleans next February. But congrats on being our latest AFC East Homer of the Week.