Monday, May 28, 2012
Four more AFC East questions
By James Walker
Here are four additional questions I currently have for the AFC East:
Should Patriots be concerned about offensive line?
Although it's early, this is something worth monitoring. Right now New England has a mash unit with Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins rehabbing his knee, Matt Light retiring and Brian Waters’ future unknown. That’s three starters from the Patriots’ Super Bowl team. The first day of organized team activities saw some new faces in new places. One of them is veteran free-agent signing Robert Gallery, who lines up up at guard this week. His versatility could be needed. And, 2011 first-round pick Nate Solder also has a tall task of stepping in Light’s spot at left tackle and protecting quarterback Tom Brady’s blind side. That’s a huge responsibility for a second-year player, especially now that Brady is turning 35 in August. It is more questions than answers for New England’s offensive line. But the good news for the Patriots is it’s only May.
Will Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick find consistency?
Fitzpatrick is streaky, and it's been that way his entire career. But last year it was never more apparent when Fitzpatrick led the Bills to a 5-2 start, then went 1-8 the rest of the season. Some blame Fitzpatrick's rib injury for the second-half meltdown. Some say he got complacent after earning a $59 million extension. Whatever the reason, Fitzpatrick must learn from that and play well from Weeks 1-16 for the Bills to have a chance at the postseason. Quarterback is the NFL's most important position. If Buffalo doesn't get stability and consistency there, it will be hard for the Bills to make a run.
Is Jets rookie receiver Stephen Hill ready?
The Jets cannot afford to wait a year or two for Hill, their second-round pick, to develop and get up to speed on the NFL game. They need him to make big strides right now. Hill didn’t play in a pass-heavy offense in college. But he did show big-play ability. That is exactly what the Jets need to help quarterback Mark Sanchez and complement No. 1 receiver Santonio Holmes. Hill has the physical tools to be successful. He just has to get up to speed.
Will Dolphins get good safety play?
The Jets received a lot of attention for their safety acquisitions of LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell. But another team with questions at safety is the Miami Dolphins, who had the 25th-rated pass defense in 2011. Bell was Miami's leading tackler and was released. Reshad Jones showed flashes but he's only 24. The other spot could be filled by free agents Tyrell Johnson or perhaps converted corner Richard Marshall. It's a mostly unproven group. Corners Vontae Davis and Sean Smith can make plays, but will they provide security this season on the back end?