AFC East: 2013 Week 4 NFL Buzz

Locker Room Buzz: Miami Dolphins

October, 1, 2013
NEW ORLEANS -- Observed in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 38-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints:

Somber room: It was the first loss for Miami (3-1), so this was as quiet as the locker room has been all season. This game wasn’t a fluke. The Dolphins knew afterward they were beaten by a better team. Miami players and coaches admitted they were outplayed for four quarters.

Protection issues: Miami’s pass protection -- or lack thereof -- was a major topic during the postgame news conference and locker room interviews. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked four times. He continues to take a beating and is the most sacked quarterback in the NFL after four weeks with 18. Tannehill needs to stay upright and healthy if the Dolphins want to have a successful season. “We have to be better,” Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo said. “Obviously, [Tannehill’s] health is of the utmost importance to us.”

Looking ahead: Several players in the locker room said they’re already looking ahead to the next game. Coming off a short week, the Dolphins will host the Baltimore Ravens (2-2) at Sun Life Stadium. Miami’s character will be tested after suffering a blowout loss. Can the Dolphins bounce back from defeat? “We can’t dwell on what happened,” Miami cornerback Brent Grimes said. “Nobody is happy with it, from the players, down to the coaches. You just have to move on to the next game.”

Locker Room Buzz: New England Patriots

September, 30, 2013
ATLANTA -- Observed in the locker room after the New England Patriots' 30-23 victory over the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome:

Physical football the key: The final player to conduct interviews in the locker room was running back LeGarrette Blount, and, to a degree, the bruising 250-pound running back epitomized the team's offensive approach. "We wanted to be physical," he said of the Patriots' power running game. Blount said coach Bill Belichick had stressed that message to players early in the week. In a cramped locker room, it was Blount, fellow running back Stevan Ridley and several offensive linemen who drew big media crowds.

Mostly positive despite near-collapse: While quarterback Tom Brady didn't seem overly enthused, perhaps because of the way the offense couldn't close things out, one player said it was mostly a positive message from Belichick to the players. "Hey, we're 4-0. And we had a lot of doubters out there," one Patriot said, pointing out that the author in this space was one of them. In his postgame news conference, Belichick said: "I'm really proud of the way our team played. They made a good example of what it takes to win in this league, and that's 60 minutes of good football."

Talib's play draws raves: The first player whom media members swarmed was cornerback Aqib Talib, whose pass breakup in the end zone on fourth down sealed the win. Belichick raved about his performance, saying Talib has played well going all the way back to spring camps.

Wilfork's status a natural concern: Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork's wife, Bianca, attends almost every road game, and Belichick was seen speaking with her after the game. Naturally, the Patriots are concerned after Wilfork was carted to the locker room in the first quarter. Wilfork was later spotted with a protective boot over his right foot.

Locker Room Buzz: New York Jets

September, 29, 2013
NASHVILLE -- Observed in the locker room after the New York Jets' 38-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans:

Steamed Rex: Rex Ryan was furious, and he didn't mince words. He began his postgame news conference by saying they were beaten in every phase, including coaching. He added, "It shocked me. I never expected that the game would turn out like this. Shocked. I don't know what else to say." He wasn't overly critical of rookie quarterback Geno Smith, instead spreading the blame everywhere.

Growing pains: Before the media was allowed in the locker room, Smith approached individual players and, according to linebacker Antwan Barnes, told each one, "It won't happen again." Minutes later, Smith faced reporters, calling his four-turnover day a "piss-poor" performance. Later, Smith was seen walking to the team bus, limping noticeably on his still-tender right ankle. He was staring at his smartphone as he walked through the bowels of the stadium.

Silent treatment: Santonio Holmes and Calvin Pace, two of the so-called leaders on the team, left the locker room without talking to reporters. Holmes, who injured his right hamstring, was limping. Pace wasn't injured; he just put on his headphones and bolted past reporters, none too eager to discuss an awful defensive performance. You expect veteran players to face the music after a humiliating loss.

Locker Room Buzz: Buffalo Bills

September, 29, 2013
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Observed in the locker room after the Buffalo Bills' 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens:

Explaining late-game tension: With 57 seconds remaining, the Bills opted to take a knee three times to burn Baltimore's three timeouts. Ravens defenders, still playing with an edge, broke through the line and tried to disrupt the kneel-downs, resulting in a Courtney Upshaw penalty on the third play. Bills coach Doug Marrone said EJ Manuel was trying to take extra time off the clock by not kneeling right away, something that Ravens coach John Harbaugh said should have been done more quickly. Harbaugh said he was disappointed that Terrell Suggs didn't cause a fumble and that he "did the right thing." Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who was on the sideline for the series, said that Manuel was "clearly" taking a knee and that he should be treated as a defenseless player.

Spiller, Jackson hobbled: The status of both members of the Bills' two-headed rushing attack may be up in the air for Thursday in Cleveland. C.J. Spiller, who only ran twice after returning from an ankle injury, was limping around the locker room after the game. He said X-rays revealed no structural damage to his ankle and that he believes it is just a sprain. Meanwhile, Fred Jackson said he sprained his MCL, the same injury he had last season, but that it is "less significant" and he expects to play Thursday.

Easley limping: The Bills can't afford more injuries, but receiver Marcus Easley also was limping around the locker room after the game. Like the pair of running backs, Easley came back into the game after being hurt, but on a limited basis. The short week may put his status against the Browns in jeopardy. Easley has emerged as a special-teams presence and has filled in at kick returner in Marquise Goodwin's absence.