AFC East: Chad Henne

Double Coverage: Bills at Jaguars

December, 13, 2013
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Johnson/HenneUSA TODAY SportsStevie Johnson's Bills and Chad Henne's Jaguars are both 4-9, but the teams appear headed in opposite directions.
It has been a different second half for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills.

Both teams are 4-9 but they’re on opposite wavelengths. The Jaguars have won four of their past five games and are currently riding a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2010. The Bills have lost four of their past five and are coming off an abysmal performance in Tampa Bay.

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley is talking about making sure his players treat prosperity the same way they treated the adversity they faced in the first half of the season. Bills coach Doug Marrone is talking about scaling back the offense to help rookie quarterback EJ Manuel.

The teams meet Sunday at EverBank Field. ESPN.com Bills reporter Mike Rodak and Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco break down the matchup:

DiRocco: Manuel is pretty familiar to fans in Jacksonville from his time at Florida State. He has had an up-and-down season, but what have you seen from him that leads you to believe the Bills made the correct choice in deciding to build the franchise around him?

Rodak: I think the jury is still out on whether the Bills made the correct choice in Manuel. In Sunday's loss to the Buccaneers, Manuel posted a 3.8 QBR, which ranks 415 out of 426 single-game performances in the NFL this season. It's dangerous to give too much weight to what's most recent, but in this case, Sunday had to be alarming for the Bills. Manuel has the leadership and character traits that any NFL team wants in its quarterback, but his on-field performance has left a lot to be desired. These last three games will be critically important to determining which direction Manuel is heading.

The Jaguars have gone on a surprising run lately, winning four of their past five games. Have they been doing anything different than early in the season? Or are things just simply starting to come together for Gus Bradley and his players?

DiRocco: Schematically, no, other than just paring down the defensive game plan a bit and focusing more on the coverages and blitzes they do well. But three things stand out: better run defense, a better turnover ratio and better success in the red zone. In the first eight games -- all losses by double digits -- the Jaguars were allowing 161.8 yards per game rushing, were minus-7 in turnover ratio, and scored TDs on only 25 percent of red-zone possessions. The numbers in the past five games: 70.8 yards per game allowed, plus-5, and 66.7 percent. The offensive line has been much more consistent, quarterback Chad Henne is making few mistakes, and the defensive line has held up at the point of attack much better.

Kiko Alonso is one of the candidates for defensive rookie of the year and is second in the NFL in tackles. Obviously a second-round pick is expected to produce, but has the kind of impact he has made on the defense been a surprise?

Rodak: I think so. When I spoke to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine last month about Alonso, he indicated that the Bills inserted him into the starting lineup in the spring, but it was a wait-and-see deal. If it didn’t work out, they were going to turn somewhere else, but Alonso has certainly fit well within this defense. He has drawn a lot of praise from coaches and veterans on this team for his work ethic and ability to pick up the scheme quickly. However, I do think that Alonso’s play has tailed off slightly over the past several weeks after he had a hot start this season. He had four interceptions, one sack, and one forced fumble in the first month of the season. Since then, he has had one sack, no interceptions and no forced fumbles. Is that overly concerning for the Bills, though? Most likely not. I think Alonso will be a fixture in this defense for the foreseeable future.

What’s the latest on Maurice Jones-Drew? I remember hearing some trade talk around him a few months ago, but once the deadline passed, he hasn’t been on the radar as much. Does he have a future in Jacksonville?

DiRocco: He does if he’s willing to be realistic about a contract. No team is going to pay big money for a 29-year-old running back that has battled injuries the past two seasons, which is what he’ll find out if he decides to test the free-agent market when his contract expires after this season. The Jaguars are interested in re-signing him and likely will offer him an incentive-filled two-year contract worth $6-10 million. Jones-Drew, who would like to finish his career in Jacksonville, is making $4.95 million this season so that would be a pay cut. If he’s OK with that, then I’d be surprised if he’s not around.

What do you think of the job Doug Marrone has done in his first season? And what do you think of his long-term future in Buffalo?

Rodak: I think it has been a trying season for Marrone. It's not that there were high hopes for the team in his first season -- nobody realistically expected them to make the playoffs -- but I don't think everything fell into place as well as he would have liked. His hire of Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator has generally paid off well, but ultimately what's going to define Marrone's tenure in Buffalo will be the quarterback position. Coaches don't often get more than one chance to get it right at quarterback, so if Manuel doesn't work out in Buffalo, it may not work out for Marrone, either. That's just today's NFL. It's a brutal league.

What about for the Jaguars? Their roster was about as bare bones as it gets this past offseason -- in much worse shape than the Bills' entering this season -- and they've managed to put on a nice little run here. What's the next step that general manager David Caldwell needs to take?

DiRocco: His No. 1 priority is to find a franchise quarterback. At the beginning of the season I would have told you the Jaguars would draft Teddy Bridgewater with the No. 1 overall selection, but since it now appears the Jaguars will be picking in the Nos. 5-7 range it seems unlikely Bridgewater will be around. Caldwell is going to have to figure out whether there’s somebody else he likes just as much or if he’s going to be willing to gamble that he can get a good QB a little later in the draft, whether it’s A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray or somebody else.

It has been an ongoing debate in South Florida since the 2008 NFL draft.

The Miami Dolphins and former president Bill Parcells held the No. 1 overall pick and took left tackle Jake Long over quarterback Matt Ryan, who went to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 3. Miami chose a quarterback in the second round, which turned out to be Chad Henne.

Many questioned for years if Long and Henne were the way to go over Ryan, and Long's recent departure from Miami brings this debate back to the forefront. Combining Long's exit with Henne being a draft bust confirms the Dolphins made the wrong decision.

Long was an elite player in Miami during his first three years. However, his play and durability dropped significantly the past two seasons. Meanwhile, Ryan has been a franchise cornerstone in Atlanta his entire tenure and will have a long career.

Quarterback and left tackle are arguably the two most important positions on the field. But if you have to choose between the two, you always fill the bigger need at quarterback.

The Dolphins paid dearly for the Henne mistake. Former head coach Tony Sparano was fired in 2011, and Miami also had to take a quarterback in the first round in 2012 with Ryan Tannehill. None of that would have taken place had Miami selected Ryan over Long. Ryan is a franchise quarterback Miami could have built its team around. He's never had a losing season in Atlanta and already led the Falcons to four playoff appearances.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins are still trying to recover from their disastrous decisions in the 2008 draft. Long was the No. 1 overall pick and the final member of that draft class remaining on the Dolphins' roster -- and now he's gone.

Dolphins end Tannehill-Henne debate

December, 16, 2012
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MIAMI -- The Chad Henne era ended last March when the Dolphins let their former starting quarterback leave in free agency. Miami drafted rookie Ryan Tannehill the following month, but it wasn't until Sunday when Miami came full circle with that decision.

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeRyan Tannehill was the best quarterback on the field Sunday in Miami, throwing for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
Tannehill added further confirmation that Miami made the right decision. He was clearly the better quarterback on the field in Miami's 24-3 victory over Henne and the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12). It was Henne’s first return to Sun Life Stadium in a new uniform, and the Dolphins (6-8) embarrassed their former offensive leader by holding Jacksonville to one field goal in four quarters.

Henne was once considered Miami's quarterback of the future during his tenure from 2008-11. But the former second-round pick was a bust during four disappointing seasons. He is one of the main reasons the Dolphins are starting over this year with a new regime, led by rookie head coach Joe Philbin.

The Dolphins are hopeful history does not repeat itself with their new quarterback of the future: Tannehill. The rookie first-round pick showed good command of the offense Sunday and threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Tannehill also gained an additional 53 yards on quarterback sneaks that should put closure to the Tannehill-Henne debate.

"It was fun," Tannehill said of beating Jacksonville. "I think we executed the game plan on offense. I wish we would have put up more points in the red zone, I have to do a better job there. But we moved the ball consistently the entire game. I thought across the board we did a good job."

Henne's stats looked similar, but the performances couldn't be more different. Henne was 18-of-34 for 221 yards, but he gained most of his numbers in garbage time when Miami was leading big in the fourth quarter.

The book has long been out on Henne. Despite having a big arm, Henne is robotic in the pocket, doesn't take enough shots downfield and relies too much on his checkdowns. He did more of the same Sunday and Miami took advantage.

Tannehill brings more to the table than Henne. Tannehill has better mobility, can make all the throws and appears mentally tougher to handle the ups and downs of the NFL. The last one is key, because Henne often got down on himself in games and lost confidence with the locker room, coaching staff and Dolphins fans. Henne is Jacksonville’s problem now. The Dolphins are happy to move on with Tannehill.

Tannehill remains an unknown commodity. But it's clear Miami made the right choice to move on from Henne. The fifth-year quarterback showed many of the same things for Jacksonville that got him booted out of Miami.

In contrast, the future looks bright for Tannehill, who has gone three straight games without an interception. It's still very early in Tannehill's development, but the rookie could turn out to be everything Henne was not in Miami.

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 24, Jaguars 3

December, 16, 2012
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MIAMI -- Here are some thoughts on the Dolphins' 24-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars:

What it means: It means Miami (6-8) won its first game in December and snapped a two-game losing streak. The Dolphins are trying to finish the year strong and continue to progress under a rookie quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) and rookie coach (Joe Philbin). Miami has already matched last year’s win total by beating Jacksonville (2-12) on Sunday with two games remaining.

Henne's rough homecoming: The Dolphins made sure to make Chad Henne's homecoming a rough one. Henne, Miami's second-round pick in 2008, played his former team for the first time and couldn't get in the end zone. Miami's defense knows Henne well and exposed him. He was 18-of-34 for 221 yards in a losing effort. Henne also was sacked twice and led Jacksonville to just three points.

Tannehill solid: Henne's replacement in Miami, Tannehill, played a solid game against the Jaguars. Tannehill made plays with his arms and his legs. He completed 22 of 28 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, Tannehill added 52 rushing yards. The Dolphins appeared willing to let Tannehill use his mobility more in this game. He had several designed runs that caught Jacksonville off-guard.

Fourth-down blues: Overall this was a sloppy game, and that was shown in the fourth-down execution. Jacksonville failed to convert on fourth-and-1 on two occasions, and Miami ran a head-scratching fake field goal in the third quarter. Miami kicker Dan Carpenter lined up for a chip shot, but punter/holder Brandon Fields caught the ball and threw it way out of bounds. The Dolphins could have gone up 10 points at the time. But Jacksonville is so bad that it didn't matter.

What’s next: The Dolphins will return to AFC East play for the remainder of the season. First, Miami will host the Buffalo Bills next weekend at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins will wrap up their 2012 season on the road against the division-champion New England Patriots. Miami lost to both teams in the first meetings.

Jaguars-Dolphins halftime notes

December, 16, 2012
12/16/12
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MIAMI – The Miami Dolphins lead the Jacksonville Jaguars, 10-3, at halftime.

Here are several thoughts at intermission:
  • Chad Henne's return to Miami has been a mixed bag. He started fast by putting together a 10-play scoring drive to start the game. Jacksonville settled for a field goal. Since then, Henne has been cold. He's missed a few makeable throws and is bothered by Miami’s pressure. Henne is 9-of-14 for 96 yards in the first half.
  • Miami tailback Reggie Bush is struggling to find running lanes. Jacksonville is making a strong effort to stop Miami’s ground attack and held Bush to just 25 yards on 8 carries. The Dolphins are thin at receiver without Davone Bess. That makes their passing game easier to defend.
  • Miami’s secondary suffered a couple of injuries. First, starting safety Chris Clemons suffered a neck stinger in the first quarter and sat out the remainder of the first half. Then, cornerback Nolan Carroll suffered a knee injury in the second quarter. Both players are questionable to return.
  • Overall, the Dolphins have played down to their competition. Miami looks sloppy and committed a bad turnover on quarterback Ryan Tannehill's fumble, although it didn't cost the team any points. The Dolphins are clearly a better team. They have a chance to put the game away early in the second half and not let Jacksonville hang around to try to pull off the upset.

Morning take: Henne vs. Tannehill

December, 16, 2012
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Here are the most interesting stories Sunday in the AFC East:
  • Can Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chan Henne return to Miami and beat his former team?
Morning take: If Henne returns with the lowly Jaguars (2-11) and beats Miami, this would probably be the low point of Miami’s season. The Dolphins (5-8) need to finish strong this season and continue to develop their young quarterback: Ryan Tannehill.
Morning take: Branch played a little option quarterback in high school. Those skills came to use in practice this week. New England has a young and athletic front seven who covers sideline to sideline pretty well.
  • Both receiver Braylon Edwards (hamstring) and backup quarterback Tim Tebow (ribs) are expected to play for the New York Jets.
Morning take: New York is fighting for a playoff spot and need all hands on deck Monday against the Tennessee Titans. This will be a tougher game than most expect for New York.
  • The Buffalo Bills make their annual return to Toronto against the Seattle Seahawks. Is this series a success?
Morning take: It’s been five years and I don’t think the Bills’ Toronto series has met expectations. The most important issue for the Bills is to get its stadium situation sorted out next year.

Final Word: AFC East

December, 14, 2012
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 15:

Strength vs. strength: The New England Patriots' front seven on defense will have arguably their biggest test of the season against the physical San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco will look to slow the tempo by establishing the run. The 49ers are second in the NFL in rushing at 161.5 yards per game. Stopping the run also happens to be the Patriots' strength on defense. New England is eighth in the NFL against the run, and defenders such as defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo are playing at a high level. Something has to give in this matchup of strengths. Expect a lot of big collisions Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.

Patriots looking for assistance: New England needs to take care of business against a tough opponent this weekend. But the Patriots also will do some scoreboard watching of their own. There is a tight race for the top two seeds in the AFC. New England (10-3) trails the Houston Texans (11-2) by one game, and the Texans have a tough game against the AFC South-rival Indianapolis Colts. The Denver Broncos (10-3) and Baltimore Ravens (9-4) also play each other and both are trying to catch New England. The Patriots have the same record as Denver, but New England owns the head-to-head tiebreaker. By the time the Patriots take the field Sunday night, they will know the outcome of these two important games.

[+] EnlargeHenne
Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesChad Henne has made his case to be a starter in the league following the season-ending injury to Blaine Gabbert.
Henne returns to Miami: The Miami Dolphins will see a familiar face Sunday when they host quarterback Chad Henne and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Henne was a second-round pick for Miami in 2008. But injuries and inconsistency made Henne a draft bust during his four years with the Dolphins. Henne got a second chance in Jacksonville this year due to an injury to former starter Blaine Gabbert. Henne is auditioning for a starting job next season. This will be his fifth start of the season. He has thrown for 1,217 yards, 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in 2012. Expect a motivated Henne in his return to Miami. He was open to staying with the Dolphins. But Miami's new coaching staff, led by rookie head coach Joe Philbin, wanted to go in a different direction and drafted Ryan Tannehill in the first round.

Huge stretch for Gailey: No coach is on a hotter seat in the AFC East than Chan Gailey of the Buffalo Bills. Gailey is 15-30 in three seasons as Bills coach, and his long-term future with the team could come down to these final three weeks. The disappointing Bills (5-8), who had playoff aspirations, will play the Seattle Seahawks (8-5) in Toronto. Gailey's poor decision-making has cost the Bills games. That was never more evident than in last week's 15-12 loss to the St. Louis Rams. Gailey needs to finish strong to make his case to return in 2013. The Bills were 4-12 and 6-10 in his first two seasons.

Sanchez-Kerley connection: Not much has gone right for the New York Jets' offense this season. But New York might have found something between quarterback Mark Sanchez and second-year receiver Jeremy Kerley when throwing the deep ball. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Sanchez is an impressive 8-for-11 (72.7 percent) on passes of 20 yards or more to Kerley this season. Expect those two to try to connect for big plays again when the Jets travel to face the Tennessee Titans on "Monday Night Football." Kerley has taken over as New York's No. 1 receiver after the season-ending foot injury to Santonio Holmes. Kerley has 52 receptions for 728 yards and 2 touchdowns this season.

Flashbacks of Henne vs. Sanchez debate

December, 6, 2012
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Remember when there was intense debate in the AFC East blog about which quarterback was better: Chad Henne or Mark Sanchez? Miami Dolphins and New York Jets fans couldn't get enough of these young gunslingers. They were expected to develop and eventually challenge Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC East.

Well, all of that seems laughable now.

It turns out neither the Dolphins nor the Jets had a franchise quarterback. Both embattled players will meet Sunday when Henne's new team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, hosts the Jets. Henne is 3-1 versus Sanchez in their careers.

But Henne never panned out in Miami and wasn't re-signed in free agency. The Dolphins drafted quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the first round as Henne's replacement. The Jets are still sputtering with Sanchez in his fourth season. New York mistakenly offered Sanchez a big extension in March, which guaranteed an $8.25 million salary in 2013. With those numbers, New York could be stuck with Sanchez again next year.

Who is better between these two? It doesn't really matter, because neither player is a franchise quarterback.

Henne and Sanchez once offered optimism for AFC East fans. But the label of "potential" is long overdue. Both quarterbacks are officially busts.

Can the Bills cool off Chad Henne?

November, 28, 2012
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The Buffalo Bills (4-7) will see a familiar face at quarterback Sunday when Chad Henne leads the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) into Ralph Wilson Stadium. This is a game involving two struggling teams, but the Henne element adds a little spice to the matchup.

Henne was once considered the quarterback of the future for the AFC East-rival Miami Dolphins. The 2008 second-round pick spent four seasons in Miami -– three as a starter -- and had some success against the Bills.

Henne is 2-2 in four career starts against the Bills, which includes a win in Buffalo in 2010. He’s thrown for 748 combined yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.



The Jaguars are one of the worst teams in the NFL but have found new life with Henne under center. He replaced former starter Blaine Gabbert two weeks ago against Houston and nearly led Jacksonville to an upset. Henne then won his first start of the season last week against the Tennessee Titians.

Henne comes to Buffalo with the hot hand. In two games, he’s thrown for 615 yards, six touchdowns and just two interceptions. Henne also has a 99.6 passer rating.

The Bills are under a lot of pressure and need to win this game. Stopping Henne, an old rival, will be key.
We get all kinds of interesting emails in our AFC East inbox. This one comes from a Miami Dolphins fan who wanted to vent about the Ryan Tannehill-Chad Henne debate.


  • Paul from Mooresville, NC writes: Hey James, I’ve become a big fan of the weekly "Knee-Jerk Reactions" column that you and the other bloggers produce each week. While they don’t always mirror my own personal views or reaction, they're never that far off. HOWEVER, this weeks "I want Chad Henne back" comment was so far and beyond the realm of sanity I had to say something. Yes, Mr. Henne filled in quite magnanimously for Blaine Gabbert. But it’s still Henne! I think anyone who has cheered for Miami the last couple seasons would agree -- that’s the absolute LAST thing we'd want to happen. Heck, I'd take Jay Fiedler, Sage Rosenfels, even Cleo Lemon ANY DAY before I call up Chad Henne. Besides, at the end of the day Henne did for the Jaguars what he did for the Fins week in and week out for years: lose. Keep up the good work, James. Hopefully you don’t have too many people like me still salty about the Henne-era.
James Walker: Thanks for the interesting thoughts, Paul. I agree that most intelligent Dolphins fans know that Henne was not the answer in Miami. He had four years filled with inconsistency and injuries. It was time for both sides to move on, and now Henne gets his second chance in Jacksonville. The Dolphins did the right thing and drafted Tannehill, who should get the next few years to show his worth. It's too early to say whether Tannehill is the answer. But I like some of the things I’ve seen from him. He can make all the throws, and also has a natural leadership ability and calming presence that Henne did not have. Tannehill’s ceiling is higher than Henne's.
One of my favorite AFC East readers, Hot Sauce Steve, asked an interesting question in the blog today.
He writes: "James, here is another good topic from another article. How bad does taking Jake Long over Matt Ryan look now? We were pilloried for it. Jake is about to extend, Ryan looks like he has maxed out at zero playoff wins and they might have to find another or build a team that can carry him."
SportsNation

Four years later, did Miami make the right call by drafting LT Jake Long No. 1 overall over QB Matt Ryan?

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Discuss (Total votes: 4,695)

James Walker: It's a tough question, Steve. The Miami Dolphins took Long No. 1 overall and also considered Ryan, who went third to the Atlanta Falcons. NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas has an interesting piece on Ryan not fulfilling his potential in Atlanta. The case for Miami is that Long is arguably the best left tackle in football. If not, Long is in the top two or three at his position. The same cannot be said about Ryan, who is maybe a top-10 or top-12 quarterback. But Ryan certainly is not the best quarterback in the NFL. From that standpoint, Miami drafted the better prospect. However, the case against Miami is that the quarterback position is so important. Getting a top-10 quarterback makes a huge difference. The Dolphins took Chad Henne in the second round after passing over Ryan, and we saw how that worked out. Miami is still looking for a franchise quarterback (Ryan Tannehill?) four years later. Meanwhile, the Falcons have not had a losing season under Ryan and have been to the playoffs three of his four years. In contrast, Miami has had three losing seasons and been to the playoffs just once in the span, during Long's rookie year. Although Long is the better player relative to his position, I think drafting Ryan would have made a bigger impact for Miami's franchise. The Dolphins would have won more games and probably saved Tony Sparano's job by having a top-10 quarterback on the roster. Long has more than done his job at left tackle, but he cannot make that type of impact.

So that's my take. Now let's hear yours.

Feel free to cast your vote. You can also share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Walker's weekend mailbag

May, 12, 2012
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Let's see what's in the weekend mailbag.

Akhilesh from Massachusetts writes: Why do you think the Patriots drafted Tavon Wilson, a low-ranked safety, in the second round? Is it just that Bill Belichick knows something others don't or was it poor drafting?

James Walker: Wilson was a player Belichick really liked -- apparently more than anyone else. Drafting Wilson that high is certainly a risk. The Patriots might have been able to wait another round or two. This puts some pressure on Wilson to perform. If he turns out to be a solid starter, no one will care where he was drafted.


Jorge Garcia from Mexico City writes: Which Patriots veteran do you see being released when all the final roster cuts are in?

Walker: You have to look at the deep group at receivers. There's no way the Patriots will keep all 11. I think players like Chad Ochocinco, Anthony Gonzalez, Donte' Stallworth and Julian Edelman will all have to fight hard for roster spots.


Jim from Toms River, N.J., writes: What's the possibility Donald Driver lands in Miami and what would that mean for the Dolphins?

Walker: If Driver is cut by the Green Bay Packers, which looks like a possibility, Miami will be high on his radar. For one, a starting job is waiting for Driver in Miami, and that won't be the case in most places. Second, former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin is now the head coach in Miami. There's a comfort level there. But none of this is possible unless Driver is released.


Shaggy Lewis from Shreveport, La., writes: What are the chances Terrell Owens signs with Miami?

Walker: Zero. Miami is rebuilding and does not want players with character questions in its locker room. Owens would not be a good fit.


Ben from Buffalo writes: It seems to me that the No. 2 receiver spot on the Bills is completely up for grabs. Given the lack of production from the guys they put out there last season, do you think T.J. Graham is the front-runner?

Walker: It’s too early to pick a front-runner. But Graham would make it very easy on the Bills if he was ready right away. That was the hope when the Bills drafted Graham in the third round. But that could be asking a lot. David Nelson is better in the slot, and if Graham and Donald Jones can step in, Buffalo's passing offense could be solid.


John from Germany writes: If you were C.J. Spiller, would you be a little upset that you're not the starter? If you are, would you leave the Bills at the end of your rookie contract?

Walker: Spiller has a gripe. But the reality is that he's not a better running back than Fred Jackson at this stage of their careers. Spiller has three more seasons on his rookie contract. By then, Jackson most likely will be ready to step aside. So it's not a certainty that Spiller walks down the road.


Chris from MA writes: I feel like I am beating my head against the wall. But could it make any more sense for the Jets to bring in Vernon Carey?

Walker: I'm surprised Carey hasn't gotten more interest. He's probably going to be one of those veterans who signs after there is a camp injury. The Jets won't sign him because they are pretty tight on salary-cap space.


Ben from Baltimore writes: Do you think Mark Sanchez still has the potential, with the right weapons and players stepping up, to have a comeback year?

Walker: I didn't like what I saw from Sanchez last year. It was my first year in the AFC East, so that was the most I've watched him on a week-to-week basis. Sanchez is in his fourth season, and I don't think his ceiling is much higher than what we've seen. But that doesn't mean Sanchez isn’t capable of playing better, or being a better decision-maker, or lowering his fumble and interception totals. These are things the Jets hope he cleans up in 2012. I doubt Sanchez will ever become an elite quarterback, but if he can make those aforementioned improvements, the Jets can win with him.


AFC East Homer of the Week

This week's homer is a BIG Chad Henne supporter.

Enjoy.

Rick from Miami writes: James, I don't think you are dumb but please look at the facts before you write something stupid. Henne had played the equivalent of two seasons and has improved each season. He carried a team with no run game or pass defense in 2010 to seven wins and would had more if he had any run support of the defense. Look at the stats. Miami was top 16 in passing ypg with Henne and dropped to 23rd with Matt Moore. That shows Miami only won six games because of their D and run game. Stop bad-mouthing players before you read he facts. Henne is better than Alex Smith, Mark Sanchez and a whole bunch of current starters. Maybe you should read the facts instead of going with idiotic public opinion. Dan Marino thinks Henne can start in this league. Do you know more than Marino about QBs? I think not. Henne will take the Jacksonville Jaguars to the playoffs before Miami wins six games in a season.

Walker: I'm always shocked by the number of Chad Henne supporters still out there in Miami. Henne had four years with the Dolphins to show what he could do and finished with more career interceptions (37) than touchdowns (31). In fact, Henne has never had a season in which he threw more touchdowns than interceptions. Henne was robotic, a below-average decision-maker and didn't have natural leadership ability. Four years is enough time to see that. But there's still a section of people, like Rick, who defend Henne and think he should have been the long-term solution in Miami. But, Rick, it’s the last statement that makes you our AFC East Homer of the Week. Henne will not lead the Jaguars to the playoffs this year. He might not even be the starter, because the team is invested in Blaine Gabbert. Congrats on being our Homer of the Week.


DAVIE, Fla. -- There is no bigger boom-or-bust prospect in the 2012 draft than former Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Is he the next prolific NFL quarterback, or simply a product of pre-draft hype that led to becoming a top-10 pick?

Opinions vary. But the Miami Dolphins believe they have the answers to the Tannehill question. Miami has more inside knowledge on Tannehill than any other team and drafted its quarterback of the future with the No. 8 overall pick Thursday night.

Tannehill will rejoin Dolphins offensive coordinator and former Aggies coach Mike Sherman, who says Tannehill is a star in the making. There are many critics who believe Tannehill is fool's gold, but the Dolphins are very confident they made the right choice.

"This was an all-in decision," Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said firmly. "From the football side, our scouts, our coaches ... we all felt very, very good about it."

Ireland hit the nail on the head. The Dolphins are betting the foreseeable future of the franchise on Tannehill -- for better or for worse.

If Tannehill develops into an upper-echelon quarterback, the Dolphins finally have the biggest piece to change their misfortunes. If Tannehill is a bust, it will set Miami back another three or four years.

"We're excited and thrilled," Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said of their first-round pick. "I've always said you need to be strong at the quarterback position, and now that's one of the strengths of this team. So I couldn't be happier."

The pick doesn't come without pressure. It's been 29 years since the Dolphins drafted a quarterback in the first round: Dan Marino in 1983. Those are some big shoes to fill.

It's also no coincidence Miami hasn't had a legitimate, franchise quarterback since Marino retired in 2000. The list of mediocre starting quarterbacks since included Cleo Lemon, Joey Harrington, Trent Green, Jay Fiedler, A.J. Feeley, John Beck and most recently Chad Henne. Tannehill will try to avoid being the next name on this infamous list.

Tannehill had only 19 career starts in college. There is a learning curve with Tannehill that isn't as steep for other top quarterback prospects like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, who went No. 1 and No. 2 to the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins, respectively.

The good news is Tannehill is not expected to play in 2012. Barring unexpected injuries to Miami veteran quarterbacks Matt Moore and David Garrard, Tannehill probably will hold a clipboard next season. This will provide Tannehill ample time to learn the NFL game.

[+] EnlargeMike Sherman & Ryan Tannehill
Icon SMIRyan Tannehill will be reunited with former Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman.
Dolphins rookie head coach and former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin kept Aaron Rodgers on the bench for several years before he became a starter and it worked out fine. But that wasn’t what Tannehill wanted to hear on draft day.

"I want to compete, that's just the competitor in me," Tannehill said in a conference call with the South Florida media. "Obviously with competition comes learning. It doesn't have to be a hostile competition. It's just competing."

Ireland said he’s going to leave Tannehill's playing time next season up to the coaching staff. But chances are, we won't know much about Tannehill until 2013. The boom-or-bust talk will have to wait for at least a year.

But Tannehill's ceiling is high if things go right in Miami. It also doesn't hurt that the quarterback competition in the AFC East is not very stout. It's pretty much Tom Brady, and then there's everyone else.

Tannehill has the physical ability to potentially rise above the struggling quarterback pile in the division that includes Mark Sanchez, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tim Tebow. If Tannehill becomes the second-best quarterback in the AFC East over the next two or three years, that's a huge advantage for the rebuilding Dolphins.

Remember this day, Dolphins fans. Tannehill is the draft pick that will either change Miami's misfortunes or extend the team's misery for several more years. The Tannehill mystery won't be solved overnight, but Miami feels it found the piece to eventually build this struggling franchise into a winner.

"I don't know if this energizes the fan base. What energizes the fan base is winning," Ross said. "I'm looking to field a winning team, because energizing a fan base only lasts a very short period of time.

"We're talking about winning in the long haul."
The New York Jets continue their search for a backup quarterback behind Mark Sanchez. According to the Denver Post, the Jets will host former Broncos and Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn on Friday.

Quinn, a former first-round pick, was Tim Tebow's backup in Denver last season. He expressed disappointment that he didn't get a chance to play with the Broncos over Tebow recently in a controversial interview with GQ magazine. Quinn later apologized for his comments.

The Jets are looking for a viable No. 2 quarterback, but that became increasingly difficult after New York agreed to a $58.25 million extension with Sanchez. The contract ensures Sanchez is the starter for at least the next two seasons. Borderline starters such as Chad Henne (Jacksonville), Kyle Orton (Dallas) and Jason Campbell (Chicago) all signed with other teams.

Quinn has starting experience. He started 12 games with Cleveland, and has thrown 10 career touchdowns and nine interceptions.

The Jets also met with former Detroit Lions backup quarterback Drew Stanton on Thursday. Stanton has four career starts in four seasons.

AFC East free-agency notes

March, 13, 2012
3/13/12
5:50
PM ET
Things are going fast and furious at the start of NFL free agency.

Here are some notes on the latest happenings in the AFC East:
  • The New York Jets have announced they re-signed linebacker Bryan Thomas, who was an unrestricted free agent.
  • In other Jets news, they have reportedly expressed interest in free-agent quarterback Chad Henne. But the interest isn't as strong on Henne's end, most likely because of Mark Sanchez's recent five-year $58.25 million contract.
  • The Miami Dolphins will be one of the first teams to meet with free-agent offensive tackle Eric Winston.
  • In addition to Mario Williams, the Buffalo Bills also are expected to meet with former New Orleans Saints receiver Robert Meacham Tuesday night.
  • The New England Patriots are expected to re-sign receiver and special team's ace Matthew Slater.

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