Tuesday, November 3, 2009
How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
1. Rex Ryan's rhetoric: All of the bold talk that sounded like the bravado of a proud papa when the Jets were 3-0 now sounds like the words of a man trying to convince himself his team is as good as he thought it was.
The Jets have gone 1-4 since their hot start and enter their bye week with an uninspiring .500 record. Ryan's big talk about his boys and occasional shots at the opposition are ringing hollow.
2. Dolphins offense: The Wildcat was a savage weapon up until two games ago. The Saints and Jets, a team that had been abused by the Wildcat three weeks earlier, stymied the direct-snap offense.
Sophomore quarterback Chad Henne has struggled, too. He won his first two NFL starts and posted an astronomical 130.4 passer rating in Week 5. The Dolphins then went on their bye, and in the two games since, Henne has one touchdown and has a 52.6 passer rating.
3. Bills quarterback situation: The Bills must be longing for the days of a quarterback controversy. By definition, that would mean a debate exists about the merits of two men. In this case, the Bills don't seem to have one desirable option.
Concussed starter Trent Edwards was lacking when healthy. The Bills were playing so poorly under his direction that backup Ryan Fitzpatrick had a shot to seize the job. He actually won two of the three games he played -- thanks to the defense. Buffalo's offense got worse. Edwards is expected to be healthy for Week 10. What difference will it make?
1. Ted Ginn, Dolphins kick returner: He occupied the No. 1 spot in the falling category last week as a receiver, and rightfully so. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano stripped Ginn of his starting job in the offense. Only one pass went his way Sunday, and it was incomplete.
But Ginn provided high voltage in the opportunities given. He became the first NFL player to score two touchdowns of 100 yards or longer when he returned back-to-back kickoffs all the way in the third quarter. He finished with 299 kickoff return yards, second-most in league history.
2. Dustin Keller, Jets tight end: The last time he played the Dolphins, he had zero receptions and was targeted once. In that game plus the next two, he had a combined three receptions for 42 yards and no touchdowns.
In Sunday's rematch with Miami, Mark Sanchez fired to Keller three times on third down, twice on fourth down and once for an unsuccessful two-point conversion. Sanchez went to Keller to convert a critical fourth-and-10 play and threw to him on their final shot at the end of the game (Sanchez overthrew him). Keller finished with eight catches for 76 yards, both game-highs. Six of his receptions were for first downs or a touchdown.
3. Gibril Wilson, Dolphins safety: A couple other Dolphins defenders deserve an honorable mention: defensive tackle Paul Soliai (six tackles, a pass deflection, the forced fumble Jason Taylor returned for a touchdown) and defensive end Randy Starks (seven solos, big sack of Sanchez on the final drive).
But I went with Wilson because he has been maligned all season for poor tackling and -- like Ginn -- lost his starting job to a rookie but made the most of the plays he was given at the Meadowlands. Wilson was credited with seven solo tackles, and he razed Sanchez twice. Wilson recorded one sack, while the other hit sent Sanchez staggering off the field.