Sunday, June 24, 2012
Catching up on the AFC East
By James Walker
MIAMI -- We are back at the AFC East blog headquarters after a brief hiatus. Let's catch up on a few story lines that developed while I was away.
Story No. 1: Reggie Bush wants to win rushing title
Analysis: The Miami Dolphins' starting tailback wants to win the rushing title after posting his first 1,000-yard season in 2011. I applaud Bush for having such a lofty goal, but I don't see this one happening. First, there's always a question of durability with Bush. To lead the NFL in rushing you usually must have a consistently strong performance over 16 games. Bush has only played a full season once in his career. Last season he played 15 but also battled injuries. Second, Miami's passing attack isn't good enough to keep defenses honest. Thirty-four year old Chad Ochocinco may be the team's most dynamic receiver. There's also a quarterback competition and a new West Coast offense being installed. There will be growing pains. Third, Bush will be pushed by young running backs Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller. Both up-and-comers will share the load with Bush and take carries away from the starter. I would be surprised if Bush overcomes all these factors to lead the NFL in rushing.
Story No. 2: Plaxico Burress rips Sanchez, Tebow
Analysis: Last week former New York Jets receiver Burress failed to give an endorsement to quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. Sanchez was Burress' quarterback last year, so it can be taken as a potshot. Burress didn't play with Tebow in Denver or New York. You got the sense that Burress wasn't high on Sanchez when things imploded last season. Burress and Santonio Holmes got along well, and perhaps neither receiver was a big fan of their quarterback. But Burress won't return to the Jets this year. So it doesn't really matter to New York how Burress feels about Sanchez. The important thing is for Sanchez and Holmes to continue to repair their working relationship.
Story No. 3: Patriots sign James Ihedigbo
Analysis: New England continues to do what it can to patch up its 31st-ranked pass defense. Ihedigbo is another body to add to the competition and potentially to the rotation. Ihedigbo isn't the most physically-gifted safety, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick likes his smarts, and that is what got him on the field last year. Ihedigbo has a decent chance even though he has to compete with eight other safeties for a roster spot.
Story No. 4: Bills aim to be a top-10 offense
Analysis: Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and his teammates want to be a dangerous offense in 2012. The Bills are confident after their fast start last year, when they averaged 32.8 points per game and were off to a 4-1 record. The key will be Fitzpatrick. Whether Buffalo's offense thrives or tanks will depend on Fitzpatrick's play. He can be very streaky. He was an early MVP candidate last October, but then lost eight of the final nine starts and could not get out of his funk. Injuries to Fitzpatrick and the offense had something to do with it. But there are no excuses for that kind of inconsistency this season.