AFC East: Justin Smith

Top AFC East offseason storylines

February, 11, 2013
2/11/13
12:00
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Every NFL team now has a clean slate. The Baltimore Ravens were world champions during the 2012 season, but now it’s time to get ready for 2013.

Here are the top storylines to watch this offseason in the AFC East:


New York Jets: Who stays and who goes?

The Jets are in for a major makeover. Thanks to former general manager Mike Tannenbaum, the Jets find themselves approximately $19 million over the salary cap this offseason and in need of gutting their already thin roster. New general manager John Idzik has a major cleanup job ahead. Veterans like Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Tim Tebow and Justin Smith are expected to be released or traded in the next several weeks. Other pending free agents like safety LaRon Landry, tight end Dustin Keller and tailback Shonn Greene are all looking for sizable contract extensions but probably won’t get it from the cash-strapped Jets. Even star cornerback Darrelle Revis, New York’s best player, reportedly could be traded for the right price.


New England Patriots: Fixing the secondary

For the second consecutive year, New England’s much maligned secondary cost the team in the playoffs. It’s time for the Patriots to fix the problem. The Patriots need more talent at safety and corner. The first order of business is to decide what to do with in-house free agent Aqib Talib. The talented by troubled corner had a good stint with the Patriots following a midseason trade and is looking to cash in. New England needs Talib or someone of equal talent in the secondary. The Patriots also have been linked to Ravens Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, which makes a lot of sense on many levels. New England led the NFL in passes allowed of 20 yards or more and Reed, a free agent, is the best deep-ball safety of all-time.


Miami Dolphins: Will Jeff Ireland excel or flop?

The Dolphins have a chance to be the stars of the offseason. Few teams have Miami’s combination of immense cap space (approximately $40 million) and draft capital (10 picks). The Dolphins have deep resources to make vast improvements to their roster. But the person holding all the chips make many Dolphins fans nervous. Ireland is not a popular figure in Miami and has had an uneven tenure. How Ireland does this offseason will determine his fate -- and the Dolphins’ fate – for the next few years.


Buffalo Bills: Where will they find a quarterback?

The Bills’ starting quarterback in 2013 is presently not on the roster. Buffalo is expected to cut veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick before his $3 million bonus is due in March. The Bills will look to the draft and free agency. They have reported been linked to San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Alex Smith, who will seek an offseason trade. Buffalo also has done a lot of scouting this year’s rookie quarterback class. This is a team with some good pieces in place. If the Bills can find the right quarterback to be productive, they could be competitive in 2013.

Are 32 players better than Tom Brady?

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
11:24
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While I stepped away from the AFC East blog for a week, Khaled Elsayed of Pro Football Focus released a series of articles in which he rated the 101 best players from last season.

The list generated murmurs about Elsayed's sanity because he listed New England Patriots quarterback and reigning (unanimous) MVP Tom Brady at No. 33.

Although grading players off television isn't the same as grading coaches' game film, and grades are only as good as the evaluators and the consistency of their systems, Pro Football Focus at least puts in the time to scrutinize every play from every game in myriad ways.

Elsayed has a basis for his opinion beyond pulling names out of the air, which many readers will assume he did.

Bart Scott, not considered the best inside linebacker on the New York Jets roster, was No. 29.

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams was rated third behind only Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and San Francisco 49ers defensive end Justin Smith and way ahead of superstars such as Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson.

Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis isn't on the list anywhere.

The list is, to be diplomatic, interesting.

The AFC East representatives who did make the list:
  • 3. Kyle Williams, Bills defensive tackle: The only Bill on the chart.
  • 26. Jake Long, Dolphins left tackle: The highest-rated tackle -- right or left.
  • 29. Bart Scott, Jets inside linebacker: Elsayed calls David Harris "inferior" and didn't include him.
  • 30. Nick Mangold, Jets center: The highest rated at his position.
  • 31. Cameron Wake, Dolphins outside linebacker: Dolphins should offer him for Brady, straight up.
  • 33. Tom Brady, Patriots quarterback: Brady was the sixth QB. Hey, at least he beat out Antonio Garay (37th).
  • 60. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots tight end: rated fourth behind Dallas Clark, Marcedes Lewis and Antonio Gates.
  • 67. Logan Mankins, Patriots guard: Run blocking was dominant enough to overcome a half-season of work.
  • 70. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Jets left tackle: Ahead of Joe Thomas.
  • 71. Devin McCourty, Patriots cornerback: Ahead of Asante Samuel and Brent Grimes.
  • 73. Sione Pouha, Jets nose tackle: Combination of size and hustle mentioned as reason he's so highly rated.
  • 85. Shaun Ellis, Jets defensive end: Division-leading fifth Jets player on the list.
  • 89. Paul Soliai, Dolphins nose tackle: Elsayed said his final nine weeks graded among best in the NFL.
  • 99. Anthony Fasano, Dolphins tight end: On the list for his blocking acumen.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below this article.

I expect a lively discussion.

Bills still trying to solve 3-4 defenses

November, 28, 2008
11/28/08
2:06
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Speaking of coincidences and the Buffalo Bills, one series of recurring events has been a disconcerting topic among their fans.

The Bills routinely have been successful against 4-3 defenses, recording all but one of their victories against them.

Against 3-4 defenses, however, the Bills have struggled. They have won just once against that setup, which unfortunately for them is used by the rest of the AFC East.

The Bills will face another 3-4 defense when the San Francisco 49ers visit Ralph Wilson Stadium to challenge another trend Bills coach Dick Jauron considered coincidental.

The 49ers switch in and out of 3-4 and 4-3 looks depending on how they want to use Justin Smith, but their base is a 3-4.

Here's the breakdown of how the Bills have fared against 4-3 teams:

  • Week 1 vs. Seahawks, W 34-10
  • Week 2 at Jaguars, W 20-16
  • Week 3 vs. Raiders, W 24-13
  • Week 4 at Rams, W 31-14
  • Week 5 at Cardinals, L 41-17
  • Week 12 vs. Chiefs, W 54-31

Here's how the Bills have fared against 3-4 defenses:

  • Week 7 vs. Chargers, W 23-14
  • Week 8 at Dolphins, L 25-16
  • Week 9 vs. Jets, L 26-17
  • Week 10 at Patriots, L 20-10
  • Week 11 vs. Browns, L 29-27

The Bills average 30.8 points, 334.8 yards and 1.5 turnovers a game against 4-3 defenses. That includes Week 5, in which backup quarterback J.P. Losman played virtually the entire game.

The Bills average 18.6 points, 300.6 yards and 2.6 turnovers against 3-4 defense.

"I think that we've faced the 3-4s and we've seen what a majority of their defenses can do," Edwards said. "Hopefully we can handle it.

"The past couple of weeks the 49ers haven't shown as much defensively as they had earlier in the season. But, again, I've said this about past defenses that they don't show a lot and then once we play them they bring the kitchen sink. And that hopefully won't happen to us, but we've faced that before, and we've got to be able to handle it."

Here is Edwards' average stat line against 4-3 defenses (excluding the Week 5 game at Arizona because he was hurt on the third play):

  • 20 of 30 for 240.6 yards, 1.2 touchdowns, 0.4 interceptions and 2.2 sacks. His passer rating against 4-3 defenses is 99.3.

Edwards' average stat line against 3-4 defenses:

  • 20 of 30 for 209 yards, 0.8 touchdowns, 1.6 interceptions and 1.8 sacks. His passer rating against 3-4 defenses is 73.3.

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