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Saturday, January 16, 2010
AFC East mailbag on your doorstep


John in La Jolla, Calif., writes in with a complaint: "Tim, why do you have so little respect for the Chargers? I can't wait for your response. Hardly anyone at ESPN ever mentions them."

Tim Graham: The fact the San Diego Chargers play in the AFC West and this is an AFC East blog might have a little something to do with it. That would explain my lack of Chargers coverage over the past two years.

As for a lack of respect, I've gone on record as predicting the Chargers will beat the New York Jets on Sunday. So have all eight ESPN experts who pick the games, AccuScore and the SportsNation poll. Notice those 10 yellow lightning bolts all in a row? That means they're predicting a Chargers victory.

Ethan in Austin, Texas, thinks the Buffalo Bills' inability to land a coach has been "overplayed" because of his belief that Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is the only one to have turned down an interview, that Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera eventually will interview and that there have been no confirmed reports Bill Cowher is out of the mix.

TG: That's an awful lot of blind hope. In all fairness, Ethan submitted his question before Saturday's report in the Buffalo News that Arizona Cardinals assistant head coach Russ Grimm likely won't accept the Bills' invitation to interview either. Even so, these men also spurned overtures from the Bills: Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren and Charlie Weis. Mike Shanahan interviewed and went elsewhere. That's a lot of rejection.

Interim coach Perry Fewell would rather have the New York Giants' defensive coordinator job than the possibility of the Bills' head-coaching position. That leaves one candidate we know they've interviewed and still is available, Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

As for still waiting on Cowher, what are you basing that hope on? Other reports that state the Bills have been pursuing him? You can't listen only to the stories that tell you what you want to hear. ESPN's Adam Schefter and John Clayton and Sports Illustrated's Peter King all have reported Cowher isn't coming to Buffalo.

Tony in Madison, Wisc., wants to know what the Miami Dolphins should do in the draft. He mentions the defensive line, receiver and safety.

TG: Let's not forget inside linebacker. The Dolphins need to upgrade there, too. They were ready to walk away from Channing Crowder last year and let him become a free agent. Crowder gave them a discount rate to remain with the team. Otherwise, the Dolphins would have gone a different direction a while ago. Akin Ayodele hasn't been a difference-maker, either.

The Dolphins own the No. 12 selection. A receiver there would be the sexiest pick. Chad Henne could use a formidable and reliable downfield target. But if the Dolphins identify a nose tackle they like, and who projects worthy of the draft slot, then that could be the way to go. Nose tackle is critical to a 3-4 defense. Jason Ferguson is a free agent, would turn 36 next season and is coming off a leg injury that limited him to nine games. Paul Soliai was adequate in Ferguson's place, but the Dolphins probably wouldn't mind improving there.

Carlos posted a question on my Facebook wall about how the Patriots might change on the offensive line to make room for Sebastian Vollmer. (If anybody else wants to friend me on Facebook, you can get alerts on my blogs the second they're posted.)

TG: Although receiver Julian Edelman was the biggest name at the end of the year, Vollmer was the prize of New England's 2009 rookie class. Vollmer showed he was capable of being a franchise left tackle, but the Patriots would be better off if they kept the aging-but-still-capable Matt Light through the final year of his contract and insert Vollmer on the right side for Nick Kaczur. If the Patriots wanted to cut payroll, however, then they could start Vollmer at left tackle next year with no problem.

In response to the debate about whether Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis deserved to win the AP's Defensive Player of the Year Award instead of Green Bay Packers defensive back Charles Woodson, Kevin in Menlo Park, Calif., wants to know how each player compared from a penalty standpoint.

TG: Revis was penalized four times for 20 yards. Three flags were for illegal contact. The other was for defensive holding. No pass interference calls.

Woodson was penalized eight times for 68 yards. He was called for pass interference three times, defensive holding three times and facemask twice.

Steve in Middlesex, N.J., writes in with a correction. He points out that twice I erroneously cited the Dallas Cowboys finished with a better scoring defense while, in fact, the Jets gave up fewer points.

TG: Guilty as charged. I have no explanation other than I must've looked up the stat incorrectly the first time and then committed those false numbers to memory. For the record, the Jets allowed a league-low 236 points for an average of 14.8 points per game. The Cowboys allowed 250 points for an average of 15.6 points per game.

Gene in Rochester, N.Y., writes: "Do you ever get tired putting down the Bills all the time? Its getting old."

TG: After a full decade without making the playoffs, the only way I can avoid writing anything negative about the Bills would be not to cover them at all.