AFC East: Joey Harrington

Kiper: Newton, Gabbert bad values early

March, 20, 2011
ESPN draft deity Mel Kiper rates Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert and Auburn quarterback Cam Newton the 11th and 12th best players in this year's draft class.

But he projects Gabbert being the first overall selection of the Carolina Panthers and Newton the fourth selection for Cincinnati Bengals.

So what gives?

Kiper explained he thinks those teams will draft quarterbacks, but that doesn't mean the value is there.

"I'm not as high on those two as I think teams in the league are," Kiper said. "I think there's a wide range of opinion on players, but in terms of the two quarterbacks, a lot of opinions all over the place.

"I think both have a lot of potential and a lot of intrigue. But there are concerns with both Gabbert and Newton."

Kiper also wrote an ESPN Insider column on the worst quarterback busts since he got into the draft analysis biz. None of the 13 was selected by an AFC East club, although Joey Harrington eventually started for the Miami Dolphins.

If the Buffalo Bills draft Gabbert or Newton next month, do you think either of them could supplant anyone on Kiper's list?

Bills will draft third, Dolphins 15th

January, 2, 2011
The Buffalo Bills have locked up the third overall pick in April's draft. The Miami Dolphins own the 15th choice.

The order is set through the seventh pick. The winner of Sunday's night game will impact the rest of the order. But the Dolphins will be slotted 15th no matter what, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Playoff teams are slotted based on when they're eliminated from the tournament. We must wait to learn where the New England Patriots and New York Jets will select.

The order so far:
  1. Carolina Panthers
  2. Denver Broncos
  3. Buffalo Bills
  4. Cincinnati Bengals
  5. Arizona Cardinals
  6. Cleveland Browns
  7. San Francisco 49ers

Who will the Bills select?

I have no clue. Neither does anybody else.

We have four months to find out what their options might be after they comb through their roster, conduct the offseason evaluation process, pick up or lose players via free agency and then scout and interview hundreds of college prospects who will fluctuate with every combine workout, pro day, suspension, personal background disclosure or injury revelation.

And even then, once the Bills were on the clock eight months ago, how many people predicted they would draft running back C.J. Spiller?

That's why it's folly at this juncture to guess who the Bills -- or any other team -- will target in the first round, let alone assign the name of a specific candidate.

But here's what we can do for Bills fans. We can take a look at the recent history of third overall picks.

2010: Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers defensive tackle

2009: Tyson Jackson, Chiefs defensive end

2008: Matt Ryan, Falcons quarterback

2007: Joe Thomas, Browns tackle

2006: Vince Young, Texans quarterback

2005: Braylon Edwards, Browns receiver

2004: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals receiver

2003: Andre Johnson, Texans receiver

2002: Joey Harrington, Lions quarterback

2001: Gerard Warren, Browns defensive lineman

2000: Chris Samuels, Redskins tackle

Dolphins on 15th starting QB since Marino

November, 18, 2010
Buffalo Bills fans thought they had it rough, trying to find a semblance of quarterback stability since their Hall of Fame quarterback retired in 1996.

With Tyler Thigpen about to become the Miami Dolphins' third starting quarterback of the season, it's time to dust off that long list of quarterbacks to have started since Dan Marino hung up that weird boxing-boot cleat after the 1999 season.

Thigpen will be the 15th quarterback to start a game for Miami since Marino retired.

Only twice in those 11 seasons has a quarterback started all 16 games. Those "perfect seasons" came seven years and 11 new starting quarterbacks apart. The Bills at least had Drew Bledsoe starting 48 straight games from 2002 through 2004.

This will be the fourth season in which at least three quarterbacks started for the Dolphins since Marino retired.

2000: Jay Fiedler (15), Damon Huard (one)

2001: Fiedler (16)

2002: Fielder (10), Ray Lucas (six)

2003: Fiedler (11), Brian Griese (five)

2004: A.J. Feeley (eight), Fiedler (seven), Sage Rosenfels (one)

2005: Gus Frerotte (15), Rosenfels (one)

2006: Joey Harrington (11), Daunte Culpepper (four), Cleo Lemon (one)

2007: Lemon (seven), Trent Green (five), John Beck (four)

2008: Chad Pennington (16)

2009: Chad Henne (13), Pennington (three)

2010: Henne (eight), Pennington (one)

Henne fifth of 13 Fins starters to win post-Marino

October, 4, 2009
Nobody ever will replace Dan Marino with the Miami Dolphins.

But for crying out loud, they need to get a regular quarterback at some point.

Maybe Chad Henne will be that guy. That's why the Dolphins drafted him in the second round out of Michigan last year.

Henne made his first NFL start Sunday, completing 14 of 22 passes for 115 yards and one touchdown to beat the Buffalo Bills in Land Shark Stadium.

Henne become the 13th Dolphins quarterback to start since Marino retired. That was more recently than you probably think. Although it seems like a lifetime ago for Dolfans, the post-Marino era began in 2000.

Henne is only the fifth quarterback to win his first start for the Dolphins since Marino retired.

The rundown of quarterbacks who have started for Miami since Marino retired, with 2001 the only season they didn't use a new one (asterisk denotes winner in first start).

Patriots go according to Hoyer

September, 4, 2009
Anybody have a problem with Brian Hoyer being a New England Patriots quarterback project?

Didn't think so.

Hoyer's performance in Thursday night's 38-27 victory over the New York Giants underscored the Patriots' decision to waive Kevin O'Connell four days earlier.

Hoyer took every snap for the Patriots, completing 18 of 25 passes for 242 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. The undrafted rookie from Michigan State finished with a 115.8 passer rating.

Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis made a strong bid for a spot on the 53-man roster with a great game. He rushed 29 times for 125 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 22 yards.

But the real intrigue is at backup quarterback. Tom Brady is returning from reconstructive knee surgery and gave Patriot Nation a scare last weekend, when Washington Redskins behemoth Albert Haynesworth slammed Brady's throwing shoulder.

As impressive as Hoyer's complete game was, the significance might have more to do with the future of Andrew Walter. The Patriots signed the former Oakland Raiders quarterback four weeks ago, but haven't given him an opportunity to prove himself in exhibitions.

Walter didn't throw a pass in any of the Patriots' last three preseason games. He went 5-of-9 for 62 yards and zero touchdowns in the second exhibition. Not exactly a convincing audition.

So who will be Brady's backup? Hoyer seems more logical than Walter at this point, but acquiring a veteran via free agency or a trade is more plausible.

A few options exist. National Football Post analyst Michael Lombardi presented the going rates for possible candidates to join the Patriots. The list includes Tarvaris Jackson, Jeff Garcia, A.J. Feeley, Luke McCown, Tyler Thigpen and Joey Harrington.

Nobody carries a team like Brady or The Bomber

August, 13, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

When it comes to carrying a team, Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of the past 35 years.

So says research done by Mark Wald of the underrated and often fascinating

Because a high number of pass attempts generally equates to a defeat, Wald wanted to ascertain which quarterbacks have had the greatest success when throwing a lot. He ran the stats from 1960 through 2008, qualifying a game in which a quarterback was asked to "carry the team" as 30 or more passes pre-1978 and 40 or more passes from 1978 on.

Wald's data showed Daryle Lamonica was worthy of his nickname, The Mad Bomber.

Lamonica ranked first with a .703 winning percentage when asked to carry his team. Brady was second at .680. Bart Starr and Bill Nelsen were tied for third at .625.

Big deal, you say?

Then consider this: The average winning percentage is .307 for all quarterbacks in "carry the team" qualifying games.

Some other AFC East quarterbacks of note:

12. Jack Kemp, .490.
14. Dan Marino, .478.
16. Al Dorow, .462.

Wald also listed the quarterbacks with the worst records when asked to carry his team. Here are the quarterbacks with AFC East backgrounds:

2. Joey Harrington, .048.
6. Doug Flutie, .100.
9. Daunte Culpepper, .118.
10t. Steve Grogan, .125.
16. Scott Mitchell, .158.
17t. Gus Frerotte, .176.
17t. Neil O'Donnell, Jets, .176.

Your AFC East mail returned

September, 13, 2008
Posted by's Tim Graham

Matt in Maine writes: Give me one reason as a Pats fan that I don't give this season up and use this time to build up good karma with my wife and do family things on Sunday afternoons this fall?

Tim Graham: I'll give you three: Bill Belichick, the defensive line and Randy Moss.

Matt in Fresno, Calif., writes: Does ESPN tell you to only talk about New York vs. Boston? Is that the only thing they allow you writers to talk about? I mean seriously ... Even if there is no rivalry, you gotta try to make one up Jets and Patriots? Give me a break.

Tim Graham: Yes, we're making it all up. You caught us. All those reasons I gave why Jets-Patriots is a huge rivalry were fictional. I actually thought about naming my lead character Santa Claus instead of Bill Parcells, but then I thought that might be a little too over the top.

Chris in Fort Lauderdale writes: Pats-Jets is just another ESPN-forced rivalry. The true rivalry in the AFC East is Jets-Dolphins.

Tim Graham: I guess that's why about a third of the upper deck consisted of empty orange seats on Sunday, when the Jets visited the Dolphins ... on opening day ... with the Dolphins unveiling their new team and head coach ... with Brett Favre making his Jets debut ... with Chad Pennington playing against his former team.

Harlan in Boston writes: I'm a Pats fan, a huge one and I am realistic about the Patriots not being the team they are without Tom Brady. What I don't understand is why people are so high on the Jets taking over the AFC East. If any team has a chance I see Buffalo, a team with a solid defense, an All Pro-caliber RB and a promising QB. Your thoughts?

Tim Graham: I agree with you. I've gone on record as calling the Bills the new team to beat in the AFC East. They also have Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters coming back from his holdout.

Brian in Phoenix writes: Do you think the Bills will win at least 10 games to make it to the playoffs?

Tm Graham: I like their chances if they stay healthy. I'm not going to get into picking wins and losses down the schedule, but they have the Dolphins twice, the Raiders, Rams, 49ers and Chiefs. That's favorable for the Bills.

Garrett from Parts Unknown writes: I enjoy most of your work, but when I looked over your preseason All-AFC East defense lineup I just ended up puzzled. You stated that you were doing a 3-4 defense, which is intelligent, but then you selected Aaron Schobel at RDE. A 250-pound DE cannot hang in the 3-4. 270 pounds doesn't even cut it. Is this an isolated oversight? Or should the readers be prepared for more nonsense?

Tim Graham: Garrett, are you the guy who complains that the Shoeless Joe Jackson character in "Field of Dreams" incorrectly bats right-handed, yet overlooks the concept of ghosts living in a cornfield?

The preseason All-AFC East team isn't real. It would have been, but I couldn't find another team for it to play this weekend.

Mr. Anonymous from Waukesha, Wisc., writes: When a player makes a team's practice squad, is he under contract? If so, what is his salary?

Tim Graham: Practice squad players are under contract, but they can be signed to another team's 53-man roster. Their minimum salary is $5,200 a week. If they stay there the whole season that adds up to $88,400. But they can make more than that.

(Read full post)

Breakdown: AFC East

September, 7, 2008
Posted by's Tim Graham

Patriots 17, Chiefs 10: All those negative feelings Patriot Nation suppressed about their team's 0-4 preseason and what life might be like without Tom Brady should be gurgling to the surface now.

The AFC East is up for grabs.

Reports claim Brady's knee injury is season-ending. That could be cataclysmic for the Patriots, who are depth-deprived at quarterback. They needed to hang on in the final minute to defeat the lowly Chiefs.

Old friend Damon Huard -- the Chiefs' backup quarterback, no less -- drove 73 yards to give them a first-and-goal opportunity from the Patriots' 5-yard line. The Chiefs failed to punch it in, but that shouldn't be an occasion for gloating too much in Foxborough.

Brady's injury is cause for serious alarm, not only because the job would go to Matt Cassel (if he starts next week against the Jets in the Meadowlands it will be his first start since high school), but also because an extended rehab would be a discouraging blow to the locker room.

Cassel has done little to engender confidence. He failed to lead the Patriots to a scoring drive in the preseason. He came off the bench Sunday to complete 13 of 18 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. That was something to build on, but he did it against the Chiefs, whom the Dolphins dominated and shut out in the third preseason game -- the one that's supposed to be most reflective of the real thing.

Don't be surprised if the Patriots start calling around for help. Joey Harrington, Chris Simms and Daunte Culpepper are available.

That should make Patriots fans feel better.

Bills 34, Seahawks 10: It can be argued nobody had a better weekend than the Bills.

Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters ended his 43-day holdout by reporting to the team on Saturday. Brady's injury creates hope the AFC East title might actually be attainable. Then they put a thumping on the Seahawks, who were short-handed from injuries and suspensions yet still are considered one the NFC's better clubs.

The Bills rolled with a balanced offensive attack, a defense that recorded five sacks and forced a pair of turnovers and touchdowns from their special teams on a Roscoe Parrish punt return and a fake field goal.

That was the sort of statement game the Bills' needed.

Second-year QB Trent Edwards overcame his limited preseason action (four series over two exhibition games) and completed 19 of 30 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown. RB Marshawn Lynch ran for 76 yards and a score. WR Lee Evans had 102 yards. TE Robert Royal had a team-high six catches and a TD.

What else could they have done besides post a shutout?

In a division in which the gap between No. 1 and No. 2 constricted appreciably, the Bills showed today they could be the new AFC East team to beat.