AFC East: JaMarcus Russell

Poll results: Are Jets fans serious?

January, 30, 2013
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Was this a gigantic troll job in the AFC East blog? Or are New York Jets fans really this fed up with embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez?

On Tuesday I referenced a report in the Newark Star-Ledger that the Jets had internal and “preliminary” discussions about former draft bust JaMarcus Russell. The former No. 1 overall pick is the posterboy for a quarterback quickly gone south in the NFL. And the fact that his name even came up behind closed doors with the Jets caused a stir in the AFC East blog and on social media.

But a poll was thrown in just for kicks. Russell has been out of the league for four years, and it was assumed Jets fans would choose Sanchez, despite his struggles, over a gigantic bust like Russell.

Not only was that assumption wrong, but it was way off. A vast majority voted for Russell as New York's starting quarterback in 2013 over Sanchez. I still can't believe my eyes. So I want to confirm if Jets fans really feel this way, or was this poll hijacked by Patriots, Dolphins and Bills fans?

Yes, Sanchez is struggling. Yes, Sanchez is not a franchise quarterback. But Sanchez has won in the playoffs and been to back-to-back AFC title games. He's accomplished more in his first two seasons than Russell probably will ever accomplish in his NFL career.

Therefore, I need a sanity check. Jets fans cannot be serious about wanting Russell over Sanchez at quarterback next season, right?
The New York Jets have to be kidding, right?

SportsNation

Who would you rather have as the Jets' QB next season?

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    41%
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    59%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,526)

Few things surprise me anymore when covering the NFL. But the Newark Star-Ledger's report of the Jets having "exploratory" discussions regarding quarterback JaMarcus Russell is one of those instances.

Russell quickly flamed out as a No. 1 overall pick in 2007. He had weight problems, work ethic questions and other issues during his three-year stint with the Oakland Raiders. But Russell, 27, declared he is ready to make an NFL comeback, and reportedly that has caught the Jets' attention.

New York obviously is looking for a quarterback after the Mark Sanchez debacle last season. But who knew the Jets were this desperate?

New Jets general manager John Idzik must have a better plan than this. Replacing a quarterback draft bust (Sanchez) with an even bigger draft bust (Russell) is not a formula for success.

Idzik recently said he's "comfortable" with Sanchez at quarterback. But if the Jets' backup plans include shaky options like Russell, Idzik should get a lot more comfortable with the idea of starting Sanchez in 2013.

Brady's throwing coach nears end of life

June, 13, 2011
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The news of Tom Martinez's rapidly deteriorating health hits close to home.

Not only has Tom Brady's personal passing coach been a great friend of the AFC East blog, but his situation is too similar to the man who taught me how to throw a ball, my father.

The San Jose Mercury News reported over the weekend doctors have informed Martinez he has no more than a month to live and as little as a week. Martinez has battled complications of diabetes for years. He is on dialysis and has heart problems.

"Physically I feel stronger than my numbers indicate,'' Martinez told the San Jose Mercury News. "My numbers say I'm basically gone. My blood pressure is too low for me to continue with dialysis and without dialysis poisons build up in my body. Doctors say without dialysis I have a week to go. We're looking into transplants. I would need both heart and kidney transplants done simultaneously.''

Martinez has been coaching Brady since the three-time Super Bowl champion was 15 years old and playing junior varsity at Serra High in San Mateo, Calif. Tom Brady Sr. took his wide-eyed son to get some pointers from Martinez, the respected head coach at the College of San Mateo.

Martinez continued to train regularly with Brady. They had a mechanics session as recently as eight days ago.

"There's so many people I owe so much to -- high school, college and the NFL," Brady told Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King. "But he is right at the top of the list. Second to none. He never held back with me. Even when I was going good, he'd watch me and call me and say something like, 'Your feet are way too slow in the shotgun. Speed it up!' or 'When you throw to your right, close your right shoulder.'

"I just can't say enough about him, and what he's meant to me. When I heard how serious it was the other night, I was there in bed with my wife, and it was just a sad moment. Very tough on his family, and on ours.''

Martinez always was available to speak with me about quarterbacks and throwing. When I got off the phone with him, I felt much smarter about football. He enjoyed sharing his knowledge.

He couldn't help but be honest. Sometimes he would avoid a question to protect Brady, but he revealed to me last summer Brady played much of the 2009 season with broken ribs and a broken finger. Before the 2010 playoffs, Martinez visited with me about Brady's fantastic MVP season.

Martinez often spoke to me about JaMarcus Russell or any other prospect he had worked with or currently trained. We were on the phone right before the draft to discuss his latest group, which included Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi.

I had a standing invitation from Martinez to attend one of his renowned passing camps for elite prospects -- not to observe, but to participate. He was willing to teach a 39-year-old former high school quarterback now on cholesterol medication the finer points because he knew it would make me a more enlightened NFL writer. That's the kind of guy Martinez is, and I'll always regret not being able to convince my editor to do that piece.

But this news is a thankful reminder that time is more precious than football. I had the chance to spend the weekend with my family in Ohio. My father has dealt with diabetes for three decades. He has congestive heart failure. He's on dialysis. And he's nine years older than Martinez.

So if you'll allow me to get maudlin for a moment, here's my request for today. Call somebody you love and tell them what they've meant to you. I'll bet they'd like that.

Buffalo GM unlikely to shop No. 3 pick

February, 24, 2011
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix likes owning the No. 3 pick in this year's draft.

But he doesn't want to make a habit of it.

"I'm going to tell you this, partner: I don't want to draft third again," Nix said Thursday at the NFL scouting combine.

[+] EnlargeBuddy Nix
AP Photo/David DupreyBuddy Nix says it's not likely that he'll trade the No. 3 pick in the April draft.
Buffalo earned its lofty draft position with a dismal 4-12 season.

Nix conceded he's prone to hold onto the pick and won't shop it before the draft.

"I wouldn't ever say we wouldn't do that," Nix said. "But I never have been one to do a lot of that. I don't like giving up a player, especially if you're sold on one."

Nix added the Bills would be open to trading out of their slot on draft day, but only if the players they've targeted are claimed within the first two picks.

"If the guys that you think merit a 3 are gone, then I think you have to look at moving back," Nix said. "We need as many picks as we can get."

But Nix indicated the Bills prefer to stay put.

"If there's a guy that you were dead set on getting," Nix said, "you better take him and not move down, thinking you can get him at No. 7 because you might not, and then you don't have the player. If there's a guy we think we're dead set on, we're going to take him."

The third selection is a premium asset and might be considered more valuable this year. Labor strife could delay free agency until after April's draft. While there's no collective bargaining agreement (CBA), clubs are prohibited from signing free agents or making trades that involve players. Teams could be forced to address personnel needs for the first time when they go on the clock.

Plus, a rookie salary cap is expected for the next CBA. That would make the top few premium selections more economical and limit the kinds of losses incurred when the Oakland Raiders drafted quarterback JaMarcus Russell first overall in 2007 or the New York Jets took pass-rusher Vernon Gholston sixth in 2008.

Those factors lead Nix and other NFL executives to believe there will be more draft-pick trades this year.

"That certainly will cause more movement," Nix said.

Nix also pointed out the added value of early second-round picks because the draft is broken into three days now. The first round takes place April 28. The second and third rounds are April 29. That gives several hours in between the end of the first round and the start of the second to trade with a team desperate for a player still on the board.

The Bills also own the 34th pick.

CBA issues create strange days in Indy

February, 23, 2011
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TannenbaumAP Photo/Bill KostrounJets GM Mike Tannenbaum, left, and coach Rex Ryan are ready for any scenario in this odd offseason.
The NFL scouting combine was conceived as an event to prepare for the upcoming draft.

As Februarys came and went, the scene in Indianapolis became a football personnel free-for-all. Free agency, potential trades and contract extensions are discussed as much as Johnny Touchdown's 40-yard dash time.

Agents scamper about to vend their pending free agents and get as much face time with NFL executives as possible. General managers convene over rib eyes at the St. Elmo Steak House or even steal a few words while waiting in line at the hotel coffee shop.

The scene should be decidedly different when personnel evaluators, agents and prospects gather this week. The combine opens Wednesday at Lucas Oil Stadium and runs through Tuesday.

Rather than a big bazaar for all a team's roster needs, the combine will be a little bizarre.

The collective bargaining agreement between the owners and the players will expire at the end of business next Wednesday. If a new CBA can't be brokered by then, most NFL personnel operations will be suspended. No player trades. No free agency.

The only way for teams to make adjustments would be at the draft in April.

"I've never been to Indy so close to the expiration of a labor agreement," New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said of what lies ahead. He spoke while driving, his GPS system fittingly announcing in the background she was "recalculating route."

"But our mindset is to carry on and be prepared and go from there," Tannenbaum continued. "There's uncertainty, but the only thing we can control is preparation, and we feel good that we'll be ready."

For all intents and purposes, the NFL offseason begins the second the confetti falls at the Super Bowl. But the way-offseason likely will begin in a week.

"This is going to be a combine that's focused on the draft and the new CBA," former Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers executive Vinny Cerrato said. "You don't have to focus on free agency. You can concentrate on the draft because that's all you got."

Heightened importance on the draft plus the anticipation of a rookie wage scale in the next CBA might create added interest for moving up in this year's draft. With the inability to sign or trade players, draft picks are the only available currency, and teams could be compelled to convert multiple selections into a premium pick.

In recent years, teams at the front of the draft have tried to trade out of seemingly plum positions because they didn't want to pay the exorbitant contracts that go along with the honor.

Oakland Raiders bust JaMarcus Russell is the poster child for such wasteful draft spending. Even the No. 1 picks who work out, for instance Miami Dolphins left tackle Jake Long, immediately become the highest-paid players at their positions before playing a single NFL snap.

But with a rookie wage scale, teams would be able to limit financial risk. The New England Patriots are in terrific position to try this philosophy if willing. The Patriots own two draft choices in each of the first three rounds.

The Buffalo Bills own the AFC East's most valuable pick at No. 3. It should be easier to trade it this year if they were of a mind to do so.

"I would expect to see more trading in this draft and people wanting to trade up higher because there's definitely going to be a salary structure for rookies," Cerrato said. "You can trade up and it won't kill you."

[+] EnlargeBraylon Edwards
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireMost teams are waiting for a new collective bargaining agreement before making decisions about their potential free agents, like the Jets' Braylon Edwards.
The Jets are in a personnel holding pattern. They have 17 free agents, by far the most in the AFC East. The big names include receivers Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith, and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

Teams can re-sign players up until the CBA expires, but the Jets are almost certain to decline because they don't know what the new rules will be.

How many years of experience will a player need to be an unrestricted free agent? A restricted free agent? How high will the salary cap ceiling be?

The only move the Jets expected to make was placing the franchise tag on inside linebacker David Harris, and even that maneuver will be in dispute. The NFL believes franchise tags are permissible. The NFL Players Association disagrees. It's possible a court will agree with the union and render Harris a free agent despite the franchise tag.

The longer there's no CBA -- Cerrato predicted there won't be a new one until August at the earliest -- the more handcuffed teams will be when it comes to addressing roster needs.

By the time the draft transpires, teams are supposed to have sifted through the free agency pool for nearly two months. Valuable veterans get their contracts extended. Trades go down.

In the AFC East last year, the Dolphins traded for receiver Brandon Marshall, the Jets traded for Holmes and Cromartie, the Jets signed running back LaDainian Tomlinson and pass-rusher Jason Taylor, the Patriots re-signed five important veterans, including nose tackle Vince Wilfork, and the Bills signed tackle Cornell Green, defensive end Dwan Edwards and Andra Davis -- all in the two months before the draft.

Such moves are unlikely to occur this year until after the draft, adding emphasis to a "best available player" approach when it's time for any team to pick.

For a wheeler-dealer such as Tannenbaum, this offseason might feel like walking up to the first tee box with only three clubs in his bag.

"If you've ever seen me play golf," Tannenbaum said, "I don't really need a lot of clubs to embarrass myself."

No free agency also means the Jets will have to wait to see how attractive they are as a destination for incoming free agents. Polls popped up during the season that showed Rex Ryan was the head coach players around the league most wanted to play for if given the opportunity.

Even so, the Jets can't afford to go into the draft assuming they'll be able to address their wants and needs in a free-agency scramble. Free agency probably will be the latest option to mold a roster this year.

Tannenbaum sounded like someone intent on avoiding stress over circumstances outside his control. After all, the Jets successfully coped with a handicap last offseason as a team constrained by the "final eight" plan, which prevented them from making particular free-agent acquisitions in the uncapped year.

"However the draft falls in line with anything else, we'll be prepared," Tannenbaum said. "We always look at the offseason as a big continuum to improve the team, from the first day of the league year through the last game -- trades, practice-squad signings, whatever it may be."

Cerrato stressed teams must be ready for a variety of developments, including the unexpected: a new CBA before next Wednesday's expiration.

"You have to assume March 3 is still the day because you can't get caught not having done your work and they get a CBA deal done," Cerrato said. "I would think most teams have their free-agency stuff done. If there is no deal, then they're at least ready for when a deal gets done. If that's after the draft, you go back and reevaluate your priorities because your needs are going to change."

Cerrato surmised every NFL team will need to compose provisional draft and free-agency boards for various possible scenarios.

Clubs would rank free agents based on interest level, and when they determine which positions are particularly deep for them (albeit with no guarantees), their scouts could skew their draft needs elsewhere.

It's a strange time, but personnel executives have no choice but to deal with it.

"We're excited," Tannenbaum said. "It's the first opportunity to put the Pittsburgh loss in the rearview mirror and say 'It's 2011. It's a fresh start. Let's go put the best Jets team together we can.' We fell short, but we have a lot of tangible reasons to be excited. We have more wood to chop, and when they say 'Go,' we'll be ready."

"We always look at the draft as an opportunity to improve the team. It's a fun time of year and an important piece to lay the foundation."

Even if the foundation has shifted.

Mayock presents different Newton theory

February, 11, 2011
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When it came to evaluating Cam Newton's media workout Thursday, ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer was effusive.

NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock was refusive.

Mayock didn't attend the workout in San Diego, said he didn't need to watch the workout and generally dismissed it as meaningless when it comes to appraising the former Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner.

[+] EnlargeCam Newton
AP Photo/Chris ParkFormer Auburn QB Cam Newton worked out for members of the media Thursday in San Diego.
"He's got a classic overhand delivery," Mayock said on the NFL Network. "He's got a big arm. You and I in gym shorts out at the local high school can throw pretty accurately. So I would guarantee you he would look great in a pair of gym shorts. He would throw with accuracy and arm strength. His mechanics are very good.

"But I would offer one cautionary note, and that is the best pro day for a quarterback I ever attended was JaMarcus Russell, and that same day -- even though I admitted it was the best pro day I ever saw -- I also said I wouldn't take him in the first round."

Russell, the No. 1 pick in 2007, is the worst bust in NFL draft history.

The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are the AFC East teams that could select a quarterback in the first round. The Bills draft third (Dilfer's apparent range for Newton), while the Dolphins draft 15th (closer to Mayock's range for Newton, but still probably too early).

Dilfer said "The ceiling is so astronomically high for this player, Cam Newton, that the scouts, the GMs, the coaches are really going to be slobbering about the prospects of having him on their team."

Mayock ranks Newton third in this year's quarterback class behind Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and Washington's Jake Locker.

"For me, it's not about [Newton] throwing in shorts," Mayock said. "It's about a lot of other things. He's going to throw the ball beautifully in those controlled environments.

"To me, there are two issues with this kid. Issue No. 1 is he came out of a shotgun, and if you watch the tape it's basically a very simple offense. One read and either the ball was out or he was out. So can he adapt to, can he process and assimilate to a very structured and complex pro offense against a complex pro defense?

"Secondly, and most importantly, when you get to a certain skill level in the NFL, which this kid certainly has, at the quarterback position, what kind of kid is he? Is he going to be the first guy in the building? Is he a gym rat? Is he football smart? Is he a leader of men?

"All those things to me are way more important than any workout in shorts."

Dilfer, meanwhile, was blown away and said Newton's stock should skyrocket. It's fascinating how two men who played in the NFL and have been around the game for decades would place such dissenting opinions over the value of Thursday's workout.

Dilfer played quarterback in the NFL for 14 years. He played for five organizations, went to a Pro Bowl and won a Super Bowl.

If anything, the divergent viewpoints of Dilfer and Mayock indicate how 32 teams can judge a player differently and why arguments sometimes break out among a team's scouting department over a given player before a pick is made. It also helps explain how the New York Jets could take Vernon Gholston sixth overall.

Brady's passing guru hasn't seen him better

January, 12, 2011
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Tom Brady Greg M. Cooper/US PresswireQuarterback Tom Brady has thrown 36 touchdown passes and only four interceptions this season.
Tom Martinez might've known in the summer what kind of season Tom Brady was about to have.

Martinez is the man who taught Brady how to pass. They've been together for about half of Brady's life, since before his first junior varsity start.

As usual, they got together during the offseason in Southern California to hone Brady's mechanics. Martinez identified a few areas to tweak.

"By the end of it all, I'd never seen him better," Martinez said from his home in Menlo Park, Calif.

"It was hard to stand there and watch it. You've got to shake your head that you're really looking at what you think you are. He was so precise. You go, 'Holy mackerel. He's got to throw some balls away.' It was unbelievably impressive."

Even with that knowledge, Martinez was surprised to see Brady's remarkable season unfold the way it has. The numbers Brady has posted in his MVP-worthy season can't be chalked up merely to refined mechanics.

With a diminished supporting cast that features rookies, castoffs and injury replacements, Brady posted the fifth-highest passer rating in NFL history, led the league in touchdown passes, threw the fewest interceptions and broke records for turnover efficiency.

"To watch him play is like watching Pavarotti," Martinez said. "He's in total command."

The big man who coaches the New York Jets sounds like he's trying to disrupt Brady's virtuosity. Rex Ryan has been belting out news-conference arias in advance of Sunday's playoff game against the Patriots. Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie took a less subtle approach to insulting Brady.

Brady's response: "We're just going to do our talking on the field."

The Patriots have performed impeccably all season. This year's production is more remarkable than what they accomplished in 2007, when they set the NFL record with 589 points and went 18-0 before losing in the Super Bowl.

The Patriots scored 518 points this season, seventh most in league history.

But the season becomes more incredible when you consider New England traded receiver Randy Moss, didn't have Wes Welker at full speed, relied on rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, didn't have Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins for half the season, lost right guard Stephen Neal after eight games and lost right tackle Nick Kaczur in training camp.

"Those two running backs," Martinez said of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, "might not make some of the teams in the league."

And yet Brady made it all work, guiding the Patriots to 14 victories despite a transitional defense that used four rookies in the starting lineup some weeks.

Brady has worked with Martinez since he was 15 years old. Brady's father took him to see Martinez, then head coach at the College of San Mateo, for pointers. Brady became Martinez's star pupil.

Much like a highly sought session musician, Martinez has worked with players on an individual basis but never joined a team. His pre-draft tutelage famously helped JaMarcus Russell turn into the No. 1 overall draft pick. This year, he will work with Iowa's Ricky Stanzi and Mississippi's Jeremiah Masoli.

Most amazing about Brady's stat line are his four interceptions, the fewest from any quarterback with at least 300 attempts in NFL history. He hasn't thrown an interception since Week 6, a streak of 335 consecutive attempts.

Martinez chalks up that number to happenstance more than anything else. He claimed it's not necessarily indicative of Brady's excellence.

"That's like Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak," Martinez said. "He couldn't do that again if he lived to be 580 years old. There's a series of things that have to happen to keep that kind of a string going. When they all go together, you break the records.

"He could go back and play the season over again and throw 15 interceptions."

From Martinez's perspective, Brady's dominance can't be found in any box score.

"The key to me is that he's in total command both physically and mentally of what he's doing," Martinez said. "If you really study their offense, he's going to the open guy probably 85 percent of the time.

"If you go to the right guy, chances are you're not going to throw interceptions because that's the guy that's got single coverage, or that's the guy that gets open in the zone. He's not throwing into double coverage. He's not forcing balls. He knows who to go to, and he has the mechanics to make the throw."

Martinez also said Brady is thriving with the aggressive offense called by quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien. The Patriots are no longer running what Martinez calls "dead plays," conservative calls that do little more than burn time off the clock.

The Patriots have scored at least 31 points in eight straight games, tying the NFL record held by the 2007 Patriots and 2000 St. Louis Rams.

"What they're doing now is they're constantly attacking, and he's getting them into the correct play," Martinez said. "They don't run many dead plays where you ask: 'What are they running that for?' They're constantly attacking."

Deion Branch was a Patriots receiver from 2002 through 2005 and was traded back Oct. 12. Branch was asked Tuesday what has been the biggest difference he has noticed in Brady and specifically mentioned Brady's deep ball.

"Early in his career, that was a weakness," Martinez said. "But that was such a part of Randy's game that [Brady] had to step his part of it up because Randy was outrunning the throws. That was one of his goals. Because he didn't throw them that often, mechanically they weren't thrown well."

That's one way Moss made Brady a more complete quarterback. When the Patriots traded Moss three games into the season, Martinez figured they would suffer.

"When Randy was gone, I don't think anybody predicted this," Martinez said. "I thought that Randy stretched the defense, which allowed all the other guys to run underneath stuff. With Welker doubled and Moss gone, it was hard to see them throwing it all over the yard."

Any yet Brady has compiled his most extraordinary season.

He'll be the consensus MVP. He'll almost certainly be voted first-team All-Pro for only the second time of his career. His name dots the record books even more.

And none of that will count if Brady doesn't remain in command like he has up until now and win the Super Bowl.

"The funny thing is, no matter what has happened to this point, this is one and done," Martinez said. "Somebody blocks a punt or picks one off and runs it back and all of a sudden you lose and didn't have that good a year.

"You're walking a fine line between being awesome and not getting it done."

Miami signs Ramsey, not sure about Henne

November, 15, 2010
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Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano isn't ruling out Chad Henne's return to action this year.

In a lively news conference that featured some reporter-on-reporter jabbing over a South Florida Sun-Sentinel story that stated Henne probably was done for the season, Sparano said the Dolphins were treating him as "day to day" and said he was "hopeful" Henne could start again this year.

Henne hurt his left knee in the third quarter of Sunday's 29-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans. Sparano didn't give further details on Henne's status, but declined to rule him out for Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bears.

That would seem unlikely. Henne left Sun Life Stadium on crutches.

Other Dolphins updates and reports from Monday:
  • The Dolphins signed free-agent quarterback Patrick Ramsey and placed Pennington on injured reserve.
  • Sparano didn't release names of who else worked out, but multiple reports named JaMarcus Russell, J.T. O'Sullivan, Tom Brandstater and Tommy Grady in addition to Ramsey.
  • Sparano didn't seem too concerned with left tackle Jake Long's shoulder injury, stating Long managed to play after he got hurt Sunday.
  • Miami Herald reporter Jeff Darlington, citing an unnamed source, tweeted outside linebacker Cameron Wake was sent home with an ice pack and a couple Advils for his sore hip. Sounds like Wake will get his chance to tee off on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who has been sacked a league-high 29 times.

Time also gets crunched for Dolphins

November, 15, 2010
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Teams usually get six days between games to take inventory of their roster and get healthy.

The Miami Dolphins get three days to recover from Sunday's carnage and significantly less time to come up with a game plan for Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bears in Sun Life Stadium.

Expect several roster moves in the coming hours for a team that lost its top two quarterbacks, star left tackle and maybe its sacks leader.

General manager Jeff Ireland will be combing the streets for free agents. It's hard enough to find somebody to contribute on the fly, but to get them up to snuff on a playbook within 72 hours is practically impossible.

JaMarcus Russell, Patrick Ramsey and Chris Simms all have been reported as quarterbacks of interest for Miami. The United Football League season ends in a couple weeks. That would make former NFL starters such as Daunte Culpepper, Jeff Garcia, Brooks Bollinger, Tim Rattay and Josh McCown available. Former starter Cleo Lemon is almost done with his Canadian Football League season.

Starting quarterback Chad Pennington suffered a shoulder injury. Previous starter Chad Henne went down with a knee injury. Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long reportedly dislocated a shoulder. Outside linebacker Cameron Wake hurt a hip.

The Dolphins have been scrappy in staying above .500 and in the AFC playoff race. But their 29-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans might have been their Waterloo because of the injuries.

The Dolphins won the game but still failed to gain any ground on the New York Jets or New England Patriots, who won on the road to remain two games ahead of the Dolphins.

Now Miami must scramble to field a team and identify somebody on its roster who won't get Tyler Thigpen destroyed. Vernon Carey played left tackle in 2007, but hasn't seen time there since Long was drafted first overall in 2008.

Check back for updates on the Dolphins' roster.

Reports: Chads are done, JaMarcus next?

November, 14, 2010
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The Miami Dolphins didn't show much faith in Tyler Thigpen.

One play after the Tennessee Titans cut the Dolphins' lead to 20-17, quarterback Chad Henne went down with a knee injury. Henne went into the game as the backup. Chad Pennington started, but left the game with a shoulder injury after just two snaps.

That left Thigpen, the third-string quarterback, to lock down the victory.

But one play after Henne got hurt, running back Ronnie Brown took the snap and pitched to Brandon Marshall, who threw it deep.

Yes, there were third-QB rules in place, but the Dolphins snapped to Brown five straight plays, including first- and second-down plays to start the fourth quarter, before yielding to Thigpen.

Thigpen was OK. He completed four of his six attempts for 64 yards and a touchdown to help the Dolphins win 29-17.

But can he carry the Dolphins for seven weeks?

Multiple reports state Henne and Pennington are done for the season. That leaves the job to Thigpen. The Dolphins can't bring back Pat White either. He's under contract to the Kansas City Royals.

Josina Anderson of Denver's Fox affiliate tweeted the Dolphins have reached out to JaMarcus Russell to bring him in for a tryout. Russell might be the greatest draft bust in NFL history, but the Dolphins still are in the playoff hunt and desperate.

I contacted Tom Martinez, Tom Brady's personal throwing coach, who worked with Russell before the Oakland Raiders drafted the Louisiana State star first overall in 2007. I wanted to see if Martinez has been working with Russell. Martinez hasn't, but has been in touch with Russell's representatives.

"All the info I've heard is very good," Martinez said. "I understand he's in great shape and running a lot. He's always going to be a big man, but I hear he's in really, really great shape and has turned the corner."

Russell would be a great reclamation story if he has gotten his act together.

"He obviously has a lot more talent that a lot of guys who are seconds or thirds in the NFL but cannot play," Martinez said. "He can play."

By any standard, Darrelle Revis a rich dude

September, 8, 2010
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How long would it take New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis to earn what you make in a year?

ESPN.com's "Salary Crunch" application has added Revis to its long list of subjects to scrutinize. He joins stars such as LeBron James, Ilya Kovalchuk, Joe Mauer and JaMarcus Russell for a diversion that might ruin your day.

You can plug in your salary (we won't tell anyone) and find out how relatively easy Revis' money is based on his average stat line. I'm not sure if the calculator takes FICA or income generated from stolen office supplies into account.

Using statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, I checked on a few average salaries to give you an idea.

Revis would need to play .06 games to earn as much as the average farmer, who would need to work 296 years to make Revis' average salary.

To make the same as an average casino pit boss, Revis will need to intercept half of a pass.

He will have earned as much as the average funeral director once he has made .28 tackles.

By the time he's done with his first quarter, he will have played long enough to make as much as the average lawyer -- unless that lawyer is Revis' agent.

His first tackle will stack up against the average anesthesiologist's annual pay.

A bartender would need to work 548 years to match Revis' average annual salary.

And compared to a blogger? Well, I couldn't find that on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' website because it's not a real job.

AFC East links: Brohm says he's ready

July, 6, 2010
7/06/10
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Buffalo Bills

Quarterback Brian Brohm says he feels like he's prepared to compete for the starting job. "I've had two years in the NFL to get used to everything and get myself prepared," Brohm said. "I feel like I can fully compete for this starting job. I feel like I'm ready to take charge out there. We'll see what happens. But I feel like I'm at a position where I'll be able to put my best foot forward and make a legitimate run at the starting job."

Miami Dolphins

With Jason Taylor, Joey Porter and Matt Roth all gone, the Dolphins need Cameron Wake, Charlie Anderson, Quentin Moses and Erik Walden to step up their game as pass-rushers.

Wake sounds like a guy who is prepared to do just that.

New England Patriots

Jeff Howe of NESN.com cites poor play calling as one of the reasons New England's offense struggled last season.

Despite losing a few starters in free agency, John Clayton says the Patriots are still the team to beat in the AFC East.

New York Jets

According to the New York Daily News, quarterback JaMarcus Russell is no longer on the Jets' radar.

Caylan Davis of NESN.com analyzes LaDainian Tomlinson's Super Bowl prediction.

Brady's QB guru: Russell still has tools

July, 5, 2010
7/05/10
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Much like tuning up a well-maintained Lexus or recovering a rusted-out muscle car from the boneyard, there's a difference between working with Tom Brady and JaMarcus Russell.

Personal throwing coach Tom Martinez has worked with both quarterbacks and might take on Russell as a client again in hopes of salvaging a once-promising career.

JaMarcus Russell
AP Photo/Pat SullivanJaMarcus Russell is "better than anybody that was drafted this year," said throwing coach Tom Martinez, who also mentors Tom Brady.
"JaMarcus is a different kind of a challenge," Martinez told me last week. I interviewed Martinez for a piece about his relationship with Brady. Toward the end of our conversation, we spoke for a few minutes about Russell's uncertain future.

The Oakland Raiders made Russell the first pick of the 2007 draft but cut him this spring. The New York Jets have shown interest, but New York Daily News beat writer Manish Mehta reports any fascination has completely evaporated.

Russell's attempt to avoid being known as the biggest bust in NFL history experienced a hiccup Monday. Russell was charged with possession of a controlled substance. Russell had codeine cough syrup without a prescription and was arrested as part of an undercover narcotics investigation.

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" recently produced a story on the popularity of "purple drank," a concoction of prescription-strength cough syrup, soda or juice and Jolly Ranchers candy. Green Bay Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly was arrested for illegal possession of codeine syrup last year.

Martinez, who has been Brady's passing-mechanics guru since he was a teenager in San Mateo, Calif., worked with Russell prior to the 2007 draft.

"It's unbelievably sad from a lot of perspectives, and it's a 50-50 issue," Martinez said. "I think he's 50 percent responsible, and I think the Raiders are 50 percent responsible.

"They both got an F. They got an F because they took a guy No. 1 in the draft and it didn't work out. And it's an F for him to be drafted No. 1 and not perform. He left them no choice but to let him go."

Martinez wasn't willing to write him off and claimed a team like the Jets could find a terrific bargain by bringing Russell onto the team as a backup for Mark Sanchez.

A charismatic psychologist such as Jets head coach Rex Ryan might be able to get Russell's attention. But a team has to be willing to take on the risk of introducing Russell to its roster first.

"He's just unbelievably, unbelievably talented," Martinez said. "He's just very young and very immature. He's got it all. He's better than anybody that was drafted this year.

"If you can steal him for minimal pay and get him in an environment where he respected the people and did what they told him, it might be one of the greatest deals of all-time, getting the first guy taken in a draft for such little investment.

"But he could already be done."

Football Outsiders use Jets for sneak peek

July, 4, 2010
7/04/10
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The mathemagicians at Football Outsiders are close to releasing their annual yearbook.

Luckily for New York Jets fans, Gang Green's dossier is the free sample chapter to promote the looming release of Football Outsiders Almanac 2010.

If you enjoy smart, statistical-based analysis, then you can immerse yourself in this reference staple. Any given paragraph of this book can provide information you didn't know could be tracked.

To get an idea of the type of insight you can pick up, here are highlights from the Jets' section, written by Football Outsiders managing editor Bill Barnwell:
  • Football Outsiders projects the Jets to win 9.8 games, but they have a 39 percent chance of winning 11 or more.
  • The Jets have a 7 percent chance to win six or fewer games.
  • The odds of opposing kickers missing five straight field goals, which happened in the postseason, was 5,292-to-1.
  • Cornerback Darrelle Revis limited receivers to 3.5 yards a catch. The league average for qualifying cornerbacks was 7.5 yards. Revis was targeted 96 times, more than any other cornerback.
  • Football Outsiders "Revisized" other players' stats to put his season in context: "A player playing at Revis' level while getting a comparable usage rate at a different position in 2009 would have set the NFL passing record by nearly 500 yards, beat out Jerry Rice for the single-season receiving record or run for 2,000 yards while averaging a record-tying 6.4 yards per carry."
  • Peyton Manning's "Revisized" season would have given him 5,532 passing yards. Brandon Marshall would have gained 1,922 receiving yards.
  • Among the 11 quarterbacks from 1978 through 2008 with statistical seasons most similar to Mark Sanchez's are David Woodley (1981), Troy Aikman (1990) and John Elway (1984). Then again JaMarcus Russell (2008) and Tony Banks (1996) are in there, too.
  • The Jets' defense forced opponents to go three-and-out on a league-best 34.4 percent of drives.
  • The Jets allowed an NFL-high 10.6 yards on every screen pass against them. On offense, they tried an NFL-low 10 screen passes for a measly 2.6 yards a try.

Tom Brady still listens to QB whisperer

July, 2, 2010
7/02/10
5:08
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Tom Brady rarely had been more surgical. To the Jacksonville Jaguars he looked like Kevorkian.

With the AFC East championship there for the clinching, Brady completed 23 of 26 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns in a runaway New England Patriots victory in Week 16 last year.

[+] EnlargeTom Brady
Elsa/Getty ImagesTom Brady still looks to one of his first coaches for guidance.
One of Brady's three incompletions was dropped, another purposely thrown out of bounds. His 149.0 passer rating was the third-highest of his 147-game career behind two games from his record-setting 2007 campaign.

A face in the crowd that chilly, late December afternoon was Tom Martinez. He might not have been grinning as widely as those around him, but nobody could come close to matching his feeling of satisfaction.

"Other than maybe his parents, people don't know what I do," Martinez said of his relationship with Brady. "But he knows."

A week before Brady scalpeled the Jaguars, he summoned Martinez cross-continent from Northern California to Foxborough, Mass. Brady felt battered and a little insecure. His delivery wasn't right. Injuries, sloppy mechanics, whatever it was ... He needed help.

Martinez has been Brady's personal throwing coach since before the three-time Super Bowl champion made his first junior varsity start. They spent the Christmas holiday tinkering in the Dana-Farber Field House. Brady was in a four-week funk that produced three passer ratings below 75.0 and a defeat in the exception.

"He had a broken finger and three broken ribs," Martinez said, ostensibly confirming reports Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Brady himself denied during the season. "He wasn't throwing well.

"It's one of those things where I can see right away what he's doing. He trusts me, so when I tweak him, it's right back to where he wants to be. Then, at that point, it probably is psychological."

Martinez has been working with Brady since 1992, when Tom Brady Sr. brought his 15-year-old son to the College of San Mateo coach for some pointers.

Martinez has been Brady's throwing whisperer ever since.

"What I feel good about is when guys trust me enough to do it, and it actually works," Martinez said. "There's a special relationship that's kind of unsaid between them and me.

"Guys don't say a lot to each other. It's just a masculine thing. On the other hand, you know what you did for them, and they know what you did for them. There's a respect."

Despite having groomed such a star pupil, Martinez hasn't pursued jobs as a quarterbacks coach in the NFL or at a major college. He interviewed for the Oakland Raiders opening a few years back but declined the opportunity because of health concerns.

Martinez still resides in Brady's hometown of San Mateo. He conducts youth camps like the one being staged by JuniorRank Aug. 6 in San Diego for elite sixth- to ninth-graders and works with NFL quarterbacks who seek him out.

He worked with JaMarcus Russell before the Raiders drafted the Louisiana State rocket-launcher first overall in 2007. The Raiders released Russell this spring. Russell has requested Martinez coach him up again in hopes of getting another shot.

He's tutoring Brady this weekend in the Los Angeles area. They've been meeting once a month throughout the offseason. They're often joined by Patriots receiver Wes Welker, who is rehabilitating from major knee surgery with the same specialist who helped Brady come back from his.

The Patriots, of course, have their own quarterbacks coach. Bill O'Brien is a respected member of Belichick's staff. Josh McDaniels was their quarterbacks coach before O'Brien.

So why does Brady still need Martinez after all these years? Martinez explained discussing flaws with a future Hall of Famer's mechanics can be a dicey proposition.

"When a guy gets that good like Brady, the quarterback coach is intimidated because he's not as good as the player," Martinez said. "So they hesitate to say things. Therefore, the player gets sloppy.

"Mechanics should be coached on a daily basis, and I don't know that it is. It's like Tiger Woods' golf swing or Michael Jordan's free throws."

Martinez declines to render opinions on how much Brady's reattached knee impacted last season or whether its stability messed with his confidence. Martinez prefers to concentrate on mechanics alone. He reasoned it doesn't matter why they're off, only that they are.

He will remain on call as long as Brady remains a driven perfectionist.

"He understands what it takes to get to Super Bowls," Martinez said. "A lot of guys don't, so they'll minimize preparation because it might be inconvenient. Where with him, he knows if he's off, that's the difference of whether they keep going or not.

"If he's off a little bit, he's going to be way off. The margin of error is so slim at that level that if you miss by a foot, you're off. Most guys accept that. He doesn't."

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