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Saturday, August 2, 2008
Emptying the AFC East mailbag


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

New York Jets fans evidently are realists. They have zero faith their team can pull off a trade for Brett Favre based on what turned up in my mailbag this week.

Nary a Favre question.

So allow me to present your Favre-free AFC East mailbag ...

Justin in Los Angeles writes: Based on what you see at Jets camp is there a guy there that can be a good option, aside from Chad? There are whispers of the 3rd sting guy showing life ... obviously no Favre ... what do you think?

Tim Graham: I'm just getting to Jets camp, but from what I've heard, Brett Ratliff was having a solid camp until a couple days ago, when he started throwing interceptions. But Ratliff is trying to beat out fifth-round pick Erik Ainge for the third slot. That's the extent of that.

The Jets' QB battle will come down to Chad Pennington's experience versus Kellen Clemens' potential -- or a trade.


Jehrid in Buffalo writes: With the Bills revamping their defense, do you think the offense will be good enough for a playoff birth this year?

Tim Graham: The most popular question in this week's mailbag dealt with the Bills' chances for the playoffs. So thanks to everyone for sending in their questions. I apologize I didn't answer each one. That would get a tad redundant.

So my answer to Jehrid is that Buffalo's offense absolutely is sufficient. I'm predicting a playoff berth for the Bills this year. Unless there's a distressful injury, the offense should be effective enough. RB Marshawn Lynch is a horse. Another sophomore, QB Trent Edwards, is the unquestioned starter. WR Lee Evans is an overlooked stud. New offensive coordinator Turk Schonert plans to open up the playcalling with more downfield plays, but he'll need to get his TEs more involved.


Tom in Buffalo writes: With the Jason Peters situation looking very grim, what does the Bills' offensive line look like at the tackle spot? Also, how much does this hurt the offense as long as Peters comes back before the end of camp?

Tim Graham: This is the X-factor for the Bills' hopes. LT Jason Peters is a veteran and an elite performer at his position. He can afford to miss all of camp if he's staying in shape. Langston Walker will hold down Peters' position for now.


Chris in Spencer, Mass., writes: I would love to see Chad Jackson step it up this year, do you think he will? Also, From what I've heard, Jerod Mayo is beasting it up in training camp. How long do you think it will take for him to crack the starting lineup?

Tim Graham: WR Chad Jackson has the ability, but there's so much talent ahead of him, the opportunities will be scarce. I was in Foxborough for a few days and wouldn't describe ILB Jerod Mayo as "beasting it up." He still has a lot to learn for that position, but he does possess all the physical tools.


Alan in West Palm Beach, Fla., writes: Who do you think is the Dolphins top pick for QB? I really want them to stick with either Henne or Beck and move on from picking up tired old men who are a few years away from being eligible for Medicare.

Tim Graham: John Beck has looked miserable through the first week of camp. Chad Henne has been decent, but Josh McCown is the odds-on favorite to start Week 1.


Jon in Elyria, Ohio, writes: Do you think Eric Mangini will be on the hot seat if he doesn't get the Jets over .500 this year? Also, which team in the division has the best shot in a head-to-head match with New England?

Tim Graham: The Jets have spent an awful lot of money to be competitive this year and regain relevance in New York. If they don't win, the mood would get rather tense at the Jets' new $75 million headquarters in Florham Park, N.J.

I think the Bills are the second-best team in the AFC East, but the Patriots beat them last year by an average of 38.5 points.


Derek in Boston writes: You're a moron. There is NO comparison between Lawrence Taylor and ANYONE else that EVER played the LB position. When they talk about Lawrence Taylor they name him the best linebacker and defensive player of all-time as well as one of the best ten players ever! Tippett has never been mentioned as any of those things because he just plain isn't. He was a good pass rusher who came into the league AFTER Taylor. Remove head from rear then write article.

Tim Graham: Thanks for your passionate e-mail Derek, but I didn't compare Andre Tippett to Lawrence Taylor. Some guy named Bill Belichick did.

You'll see another post on my AFC East blog that Hall of Fame G Joe DeLamielleure says a lot of offensive linemen of that era, himself included, thought Tippett was better.

But what do they know?


Bo in Brooklyn, Conn., writes: The Pats are playing Tank Williams at ILB so much in camp. Are they just getting him ready for their sub packages or do they feel he is an every-down ILB? Mayo sounds like the real deal but I have not heard much on Hobson. How is he doing? Will Seau get a call from the Pats sometime during camp or only if someone is injured?

Tim Graham: I'm not sure how long the Tank Williams experiment will last, but on the days I saw him he got pancaked. Sub packages might be suitable. I didn't notice Victor Hobson much. Junior Seau's still out there, and remains a possibility.


Tony in New Haven, Conn., writes: What did you think of the under radar signing of LaMont Jordan by the Pats? From my view it was just another weapon added to an already explosive offense.

Tim Graham: LaMont Jordan was a great pickup. There's no downside here that I can see. He seems to be accepting of a backup role and shouldn't be a disruptive element. Yet he's a nice insurance policy.


Jay in Raleigh, N.C., writes: Any thoughts on who amongst Miami's young front 7 players (Rod Wright, Paul Soliai, Quentin Moses, Charlie Anderson, Phillip Merling, Kendall Langford) could/should emerge as legitimate NFL starters, if not this y
ear, then next?

Tim Graham: Charlie Anderson will start in the OLB spot Jason Taylor would have played in the 3-4. Phillip Merling has looked impressive and could start right away, while the Dolphins also expect big things from Kendall Langford.


Matt in Maine writes: If Eric Mangini loses this Jets job, will he ever coach in the NFL again? He basically ratted out his former employer, would another franchise trust him? On a Patriots note, are LaMont Jordan and Sammy Morris competing for a job, or would Morris just go to special teams on a regular basis if Jordan is ahead of him on the depth chart? Thanks, you are doing a great job with this.

Tim Graham: I appreciate the kind words, Matt. If an owner or GM is convinced Mangini can win games, his role in Spygate won't matter. But he probably reduced his future employment options given how many branches exist on the Parcells/Belichick coaching tree throughout the league.

As for Jordan and Morris, that's an excellent question that I don't have an answer to. I think the RBs behind Laurence Maroney will be used based on situations more than a depth chart. But if something were to happen to Maroney, then Jordan is better suited to take over. Morris has rushed more than 100 times only once in his career, and that was four years ago for the Dolphins.


Bill in Boston writes: I don't want to sound too critical of your blog entry, but I just wanted to let you know that this was pretty much a useless blog. Not quite sure what new information you were bringing to the table here. This honestly read like something that you threw together in 5 minutes. I mean, come on man you write for ESPN!!!! Sorry for the message, but I had to voice my opinion.

Tim Graham: Thanks for not being too critical.


Matthew in New York City writes: Dolphins fan here...on the football today podcast you were about to go in depth about ricky williams when Jeremy green pulled you off subject...do you think he and ronnie brown can make an impact enough to give the passing game a fighting chance?

Tim Graham: Thanks for listening to the podcast, Matthew. I'm bullish on Williams this year because of what I've seen with my own eyes in OTAs and minicamp. He looks sensational. On several occasions I've noticed a wide smile cross Parcells' face when Williams bolts through the line in 11-on-11 drills.


Drew in San Francisco writes: Hey Tim, a lot of people already have the Chargers penciled in for the AFC crown. They have amazing starters, but I feel that their two-deep pales in comparison to the Pats and Colts. Fair Assumption?

Tim Graham: Fair. But don't forget the Steelers' depth at the skill positions. Nobody is going to want to meet them in the playoffs.


Dave in Buffalo writes: The bills are not moving. after goodell tells everyone not to worry and that he would never allow the bills to move, why would you write this garbage???

Tim Graham: I don't ever recall NFL commissioner Roger Goodell telling people he never would allow the Bills to move. He has always said it was important the team remain in Buffalo, but he has not made any promises. I grew up in Cleveland. Don't ever be certain your team can't move, especially not this one.


RJ in Orlando writes: My girlfriend is a huge fins fan and is very disappointed with taylor and thomas leaving. She has both of there jerseys she wears on game day. She wants a new to wear this season but am not sure which player is really gonna shine on this team. What do you think?

Tim Graham: Does she already have a No. 34? What about Ronnie Brown's No. 23? Brown might not be at full speed until a few weeks into the season, but he has superstar skills. Remember, he was leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage when he got hurt last year in Week 7.


Mark from Pennsylvania writes: Do you think James Hardy will be the No. 2 WR by week 1 or will he have to wait a while. Do you think he could be rookie of the year?

Tim Graham: I do think Hardy will be highly involved in Buffalo offense, but I don't think he's a candidate to be the top rookie. There are too many other rookies out there who will be much flashier on the stat sheet.