AFC East: Herm Edwards

DAVIE, Fla. – To get a sense of the Miami Dolphins' ideal mindset in the final two games, look no further than the credo written on the wall inside the team's locker room.

“I will never accept defeat,” the Dolphins’ credo states in bold letters. “I will never quit.”

We will find out Sunday if the Dolphins (7-7) live up to their year-long motto when they host the Minnesota Vikings (6-8) in a battle of mediocre teams. This game essentially has nothing at stake. Miami still has a small chance for the postseason but was virtually eliminated following back-to-back losses to the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens.

However, Dolphins players insisted that they will fight to the end. They still have a shot to finish with a winning season for the first time since 2008.

“The thing is that winning two games means something, so we take things one game at a time,” Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick said. “So beating Minnesota means something. Beating New York means something. But finishing 9-7 and not getting into the playoffs really doesn't mean anything.”

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill even cited a famous football line from former NFL coach and current ESPN analyst Herm Edwards.

“You play to win the game,” Tannehill said Wednesday.

Joe Philbin, who is 22-24 as Miami’s head coach, finds himself in a challenging spot the next two weeks. Rumors are swirling that Philbin could be coaching his final two games with the Dolphins after potentially missing the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. Philbin is doing his best to block out the noise, but he still must motivate his players to perform well in the final two games.

For players, this serves as an audition. Change is inevitable on a roster when teams are not successful, and Miami will have a lot of decisions to make in the offseason with high-priced veterans and prospective free agents.

Last year, Miami was in the playoff hunt until the final game. This season feels much different because the season essentially ended in Gillette Stadium in Week 15, leaving the team to deal with two uneventful games before wrapping up another disappointing season.

It will be up to leaders such as defensive end Cameron Wake and Tannehill to keep the team focused.

“You play for each other, you play for your team and you play to represent yourself and what you stand for as a person and as a player,” Tannehill said. “I don’t have any problem getting motivation. I love to compete, regardless of if the playoffs are on the line or not.”

Video: Most-intriguing Week 2 storyline

August, 14, 2013
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Herm Edwards wants to see how Bill QB EJ Manuel performs in Week 2 of the preseason against the Vikings.

Video: Rookie Manuel ready to start?

August, 13, 2013
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Herm Edwards examines the Bills' QB competition between EJ Manuel and Kevin Kolb and explains why he believes Manuel is ready for the starting job.
It has been a full 24 hours of Aaron Hernandez and New England Patriots coverage in the AFC East blog. It's not every day that a star player in the division gets charged with murder and faces five additional gun charges. Hernandez will continue to garner plenty of headlines as the legal system runs its course. But we also want to shift gears, to some degree, and get back to the other teams in the division.

One story that was overlooked this week was ESPN's Herm Edwards ranking Joe Philbin of the Miami Dolphins among his top up-and-coming head coaches . Edwards is a former head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets, so his opinion carries weight.

As a Miami resident, I spend a lot of time with the Dolphins and have been impressed with how Philbin goes about his business. He has an even-keeled demeanor and a sly sense of humor that works well in the NFL. Philbin also went 7-9 last year with a rebuilding Dolphins team, and his game-day decisions were mostly solid in his first season.

But similar to NFL players, Philbin has to prove that his first season was not a fluke. He's in a very good position to avoid a sophomore slump. The Dolphins spent more than $200 million in free agency, which included $117 in guaranteed money. The team Philbin has in Year 2 is more talented, more athletic and more versatile than his 2012 group.

Expectations are higher this year in Miami, and the bar also has been raised for Philbin. His 7-9 record was a pleasant surprise last season. But in 2013, Philbin must prove that he can do better and finish with a winning record with more talent at his disposal.
ESPN NFL analyst Herm Edwards made his debut column on ESPN.com Insider. It's a peek into the mind of a former head coach, who has plenty of interesting views.

One of the more pertinent points to the AFC East is that Edwards believes the Miami Dolphins should go with rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill in Week 1.

"The Dolphins need to start Tannehill now," Edwards writes: "Miami finished 6-10 overall and 3-3 in a tough AFC East last season. After a rough offseason, the Dolphins drafted Tannehill in the first round at No. 8 overall. If they drafted him that high, he'd better be their franchise QB. Right?"

Edwards continued to pull the Tannehill bandwagon.

"The real question is: How much better is Matt Moore going to be than Tannehill?" Edwards continues. "Are the Dolphins going to win two more games with him? Maybe go 8-8? What does that accomplish? They are rebuilding. They might as well find out what they have in Tannehill now."

Here is the thing: Edwards now has a cushy job at ESPN. He has the luxury to comfortably say another team should play a rookie quarterback when Tannehill clearly is not ready. If Edwards were still head coach of the New York Jets or Kansas City Chiefs, would he play Tannehill, or any rookie who was too green? Probably not.

In fact, Edwards had a chance to play Brodie Croyle his rookie year over veteran Damon Huard, and Edwards wisely chose Huard and won nine games that year. Croyle didn't start his first game until Year 2. Edwards also had a young Chad Pennington in New York and Pennington didn't crack Edwards' starting lineup until Year 3.

Edwards coined the phrase, "Hello! You play to win the game!" Miami going with Tannehill right now would not give the Dolphins the best chance to win in Week 1.

Video: 'Jets, Bills could threaten Patriots'

July, 24, 2012
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ESPN NFL Analyst Herm Edwards explains why the Bills and Jets are the biggest threats to the Patriots in the AFC East.

Video: Patriots preseason speech

July, 18, 2012
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Herm Edwards gives a preseason speech to the New England Patriots.

Video: Jets preseason speech

July, 17, 2012
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Herm Edwards gives a preseason speech to the New York Jets.

Take your pick: Jets or Bills?

June, 27, 2012
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A recent video in the AFC East blog sparked a heated debate between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. ESPN analyst Herm Edwards picked the Bills to be one of the last teams in the playoffs ahead of the Jets, and Jets fans weren't happy about it.

SportsNation

Which team will have a better 2012 season?

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    24%
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Discuss (Total votes: 10,263)

So we're going to revisit that topic Wednesday in the AFC East blog. Which team will have a better 2012 season: Jets or Bills?

Buffalo is considered a team on the rise after a stellar offseason, led by the acquisition of stud defensive end Mario Williams. Many feel they could be a sleeper in the AFC. The Bills will look to end a 13-year playoff drought.

Meanwhile, the Jets are a veteran team that is hard to read after last year’s 8-8 season. They could be primed to bounce back or on the downswing. It is interesting to note New York swept Buffalo last year and will play the Bills in Week 1 at MetLife Stadium.

Most people peg the Patriots to win the AFC East. But second place is wide open. Using our SportsNation poll, take your pick on whether the Jets or Bills will have a better 2012 season.

Burress 'absolutely' a match for Sanchez

June, 17, 2011
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At a book-signing event Thursday night, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan dodged questions about whether he'd be interested in signing free-agent receiver Plaxico Burress once the lockout ends.

But ESPN analysts Herm Edwards and Marcellus Wiley, a couple of guys with AFC East pasts, weren't bashful in sharing their opinions. They pondered how Burress would fit in with the Jets and agreed he would look good in green.

Edwards said the Jets "absolutely" should pursue Burress.

"This is a receiver that's a big, physical receiver," Edwards said. "He fits the bill. He's used to playing in the cold.

"The thing you like about Plaxico, he adjusts to the football. He's quarterback-friendly. When you think about the New York Jets, Mark Sanchez threw 17 touchdown passes. That has to pick up.

"They got a good running game. This guy is a matchup problem in the red zone. That's where this guy can make hay for you."

Wiley also emphasized the help a target like Burress would provide to Sanchez.

Can Dolphins, Bills be turnaround teams?

May, 31, 2011
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Parity isn't collectively bargained anymore. Whenever the NFL resumes, we can expect the competition level to remain relatively balanced -- even if the performances are sloppy because of missed workouts.

With parity in mind, ESPN analysts Tedy Bruschi and Herm Edwards mulled over the top candidates to go from a losing record last season to the playoffs in 2011.

The AFC East had two losing teams last season, but neither the Miami Dolphins nor Buffalo Bills made the conversation.

Bruschi brushed aside the easiest answers, the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans, and made a compelling case for the St. Louis Rams. Bruschi pointed out quarterback Sam Bradford is on the rise, and the Rams came one victory away from winning the flaccid NFC West last season.

Edwards went in a similar direction and picked the San Francisco 49ers, saying it will pivot on whether Jim Harbaugh can prop up quarterback Alex Smith.

Back to the Dolphins and Bills, I don't see either team making the playoffs next season. The Dolphins have the possibility to field a playoff-caliber team, and what I mean by that is a squad that would be competitive if they made the tournament. But the odds are stacked against them.

The Dolphins would need to conjure up quarterback play they didn't have last season in addition to the New England Patriots and New York Jets falling off in addition to enough contenders from other divisions not winning enough games.

The AFC seems too deep for the Dolphins until they get high-quality and consistent performances from their quarterback, whether it's Chad Henne or somebody not yet on the team. Then again, Chad Pennington showed what one reliable veteran could do in 2008.

The Bills still are a rebuilding team. They have the same competitive issues in the AFC East as the Dolphins, but lack the overall roster talent.

Video: Players treating lockout as vacation?

May, 12, 2011
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In light of public comments from some players who are treating the lockout like hammock season, ESPN analyst Herm Edwards explains the disconnect with fans.

Video: 'NFL Live' on owner Power Rankings

May, 11, 2011
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"NFL Live" analysts Herm Edwards and Cris Carter discuss ESPN.com's ownership Power Rankings from Tuesday. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was second, and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson was 10th.

Video: NFL lockout crawls onward

May, 9, 2011
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ESPN analyst Herm Edwards and reporter Adam Schefter discuss the latest developments with the NFL lockout, which is nearing the two-month mark. One of the key issues deals with reported against-the-rules contact between teams and undrafted rookies.

Herm Edwards preaches about Cam Newton

March, 30, 2011
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Hannah Storm merely had to ask the question and then sit back and listen.

ESPN analyst Herm Edwards got on a roll when discussing how much teams should weigh Auburn quarterback Cam Newton's so-called character issues.

"There's concerns as far as off-the-field [issues]. As far what he does on the field? Oh, he plays football -- at a high level," Edwards said Wednesday, a day after Newton visited the Buffalo Bills. "You think about his mental toughness. What he put himself through this year with some decisions he's made off the field that we haven’t come to the conclusion of what they are right now ... But he mentally stayed focused on the job at hand: playing quarterback for the University of Auburn, winning a national championship, oh, by the way, won a Heisman Trophy.

"So, through all that, he found a way to play football. Remember: You're drafting the guy to be a football player, not be a counselor for your children, not to be a role model for your children. You need to do that at home as a parent."

Edwards, the former New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs head coach, clearly wouldn't be concerned with adding Newton to a roster.

"He has talent," Edwards said. "He has tremendous amount of talent. .... He has a presence about himself. That team followed him."

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