Saturday, January 5, 2013
Walker's weekend mailbag
By James Walker
With the 2012 regular season in the books, a lot of readers in our community have things to get off their chest.
Let’s see what’s in our AFC East mailbag.
Ray from Tulsa, Okla., wants an "honest" evaluation of Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
James Walker: I see mostly good in Tannehill, Ray. I like Tannehill's arm, mobility and even-keeled demeanor. I think all three things will serve him well in the future. Tannehill also is a good athlete. The only thing that scared me last season is his accuracy comes and goes in games. He can go quarters or long stretches where he gets cold. But I think that will improve when his supporting cast improves. Building up the offense around Tannehill should be Miami's biggest offseason priority.
AlexWeller721 via Twitter writes: Do you think the Dolphins should pay running back Reggie Bush or turn this team over to Lamar Miller?
Walker: This is a tough one, Alex. Thanks for the question. I like what Bush brought to the Dolphins. He was a leader by example and, at times, the team's only offensive playmaker. Bush rushed for more than 2,000 yards in two seasons in Miami. That was well above expectations. But this is a question of money. What is Bush worth to the Dolphins? They have the cap space to pay Bush a lot. But I think Miami will put a team-friendly contract offer on the table for Bush and see if he accepts. If not, the Dolphins will be ready to move on with Miller and Daniel Thomas.
Ken from Montreal writes: What has been more disappointing: Buffalo’s offense or defense?
Walker: You have to go with the defense, Ken. Buffalo's offense is what it is under Ryan Fitzpatrick. He can be hot and cold, and that's what Buffalo's offense was. I also think that's why the Bills will move on from Fitzpatrick, because you can't win consistently with an erratic quarterback. The defense was projected to be a top-10 group by some. Buffalo's run defense was atrocious. The defensive line significantly underachieved and the linebackers are not playmakers. Buffalo's young corners also took a beating, although I like rookie Stephon Gilmore's potential.
Charles D from Syracuse, N.Y., writes: I was wondering, in your opinion, who SHOULD the Bills be looking at for head coach?
Walker: I like the good mix and due diligence for the Bills this week. They've looked at former head coaches like Lovie Smith and Ken Whisenhunt, assistants like Ray Horton and Mike McCoy, as well as college coaches like Chip Kelly and Doug Marrone. They should have enough info at this point to make an informed decision. Kelly is out, so Buffalo has to move fast before it loses more candidates. I have my opinions on each of these coaches. But I'm going to wait to see who Buffalo picks and examine the fit from there.
Adam from Allentown, N.J., writes: Do you think the New York Jets need both Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie on their roster?
Walker: This is an interesting question, Adam. Cromartie certainly played at a Pro Bowl level without Revis this season. Cromartie is proving he still has what it takes to be a No. 1 corner. The Jets are also strapped with next year’s salary cap and trading Revis' big salary would provide relief. However, I am never for trading your best player, because it's nearly impossible to get equal value. Revis, when healthy, is the best cornerback in football. Trading him coming off a season-ending injury will not get equal value. I expect the Jets to make significant cuts in other areas of the roster and keep Revis in the final year of his contract.
Rich from Pompano Beach, Fla., writes: Is it possible Jets keep Tim Tebow to develop an offense for him and strengthen the defense with the No. 9 pick?
Walker: The Tebow era is over in New York, Rich. It was a bust. It's time to let it go.
tomC50 writes: I know Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is a talent. But my perception is that he does almost as many bad things (motion penalties, dropped and tipped passes, fumbles) as he does good things. What do you think?
Walker: That’s an astute observation, Tom. Hernandez is a high-risk, high-reward player at times. He can make spectacular plays and follow up by dropping a routine pass. But the good greatly outweighs the bad with Hernandez. His versatility is unique. Remember last season in the playoffs when he shared time at running back? Hernandez is a great chess piece for Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Eric Moss from North Providence, R.I., writes: Do you think Tom Brady will surprise us and walk away if he's a Super Bowl winner this year?
Walker: I don’t see Brady walking away this soon unless he is injured. Brady says he wants to play until he’s 40. That’s five more years. I don’t know if his body can take the pounding for that long, but his mind and his arm are certainly sharp enough. Even if Brady wins a Super Bowl, I think he would try to get five and surpass his childhood hero Joe Montana.
Comment and complaint department
Don R. from N.C. writes: You just wrote about Sanchez starting for the Jets. I want to set the record straight. FANS DO NOT WANT TO SEE HIM PLAY QB FOR THE JETS OR COMPETE FOR THE STARTING JOB NEXT YEAR!!! I don't care if he's due a $1 billion dollars! There is no way you can trot him out opening day as the starter next year. He's done in NY. However, I want to keep Rex. Happy New Year!
Walker: Don, the fact is money matters in the NFL. The Jets would love to move on from Sanchez, but they agreed to a $58.25 million extension last year. In that extension was a guaranteed salary of $8.25 million in 2013. The Jets have to foot the bill no matter what, and if they cut Sanchez, the cap hit more than doubles. Unless the Jets find a trade partner, which is doubtful, Sanchez will be on the roster next year. He might get a chance to compete for the starting job or simply be an expensive clipboard holder.
Stephen Kelly from Valencia, Calif., writes: Time to fire Rex Ryan. How embarrassing. He is a grown, 50-year-old man. He's not some kid. Woody Johnson should be mortified. Eric Mangini is Bill Walsh all of a sudden. Ryan has become a full-blown clown.
Walker: I’ve covered the NFL since 2004, Stephen, and I'm at the point where not much surprises me anymore. I thought I've seen and/or covered just about every form of NFL controversy. But Ryan's arm tattoo of a Sanchez jersey shocked me. That was new and zany -- even by Jets standards. I don't know what Ryan was thinking. I really like Ryan in terms of Xs and Os on defense. But some of the circus-like stuff that comes with Ryan is becoming a bit much, especially now that he’s had two straight non-winning seasons.
Edward Lusala from Bloomington, Ill., writes: Why re-sign Miami players who have contributed to three straight losing seasons? They have not improved the team or themselves, why expect anything different the next year? I don't understand the thinking in the NFL.
Walker: The point is to try to keep your best players, Edward. Yes, Miami lacks elite talent. That's why the Dolphins only had defensive end Cameron Wake in the Pro Bowl this year. However, that doesn't mean guys like Jake Long, Reggie Bush, Brian Hartline, Randy Starks and Sean Smith are scrubs. These are good players who can add to your core. You can't have 53 Pro Bowlers.