AFC East: Michael Griffin

Holmes, Hill injured in loss

September, 29, 2013
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NASHVILLE -- The New York Jets might have to face the Atlanta Falcons next Monday night without their starting receivers, Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill.

Hill suffered a head injury on the second play of the Jets' 38-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans, when he was drilled by safety Michael Griffin. Incredibly, there was no flag on the play, but it would be a surprise if Griffin isn't fined.

Hill walked ever so slowly to the sideline and was taken to the locker room for evaluation. It was announced soon after he wouldn't return.

Rex Ryan provided no update on Hill or Holmes, who injured his right hamstring with 10:20 remaining in the game. It happened away from the ball, as Holmes tried to get off the line of scrimmage. Initially, there were fears that he aggravated his surgically repaired foot.

Holmes, targeted five times and finished with only one catch for 25 yards, declined to speak to reporters afterward. He was seen walking with a significant limp.

If Holmes and Hill can't play in Atlanta, the Jets likely would start Jeremy Kerley and Clyde Gates, with Ben Obomanu and Ryan Spadola on the bench.

One free agent: AFC East

January, 25, 2012
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There is one game remaining, which is the Super Bowl. But for the other 30 teams it is time to start rebuilding for 2012.

Teams around the league are deciding on which pending free agents to target. The AFC East blog is happy to offer the division some free advice.

Based on need, here is one free agent for each team we think should be on the radar:

Miami Dolphins (6-10)

Free agent: QB Matt Flynn (Packers)

Age: 26

2011 stats: 518 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions, 124.8 passer rating

Analysis: The Dolphins have made it no secret they are looking for a franchise quarterback. The most realistic option is Flynn, who came from new Miami coach Joe Philbin's system in Green Bay. Flynn would have a seamless transition running Philbin's offense. Flynn showed he can put up big numbers in limited playing time. His six-touchdown performance to beat the Detroit Lions in Week 17 was one of the top games for any quarterback this season. Peyton Manning's health is still an issue and Miami doesn't have the right draft pick to select Robert Griffin III. Despite limited experience, Flynn's price tag won't be cheap. He might be the next Kevin Kolb or the next Matt Schaub. But it's a worthy risk for the Dolphins.

Buffalo Bills (6-10)

Free agent: DE/LB Mario Williams (Texans)

Age: 26

2011 stats: 11 tackles, five sacks

Analysis: Buffalo needs somebody to get to the quarterback, and Williams could be the most qualified pass rusher on the market. Williams had five sacks in five games this past season before suffering a season-ending pectoral injury. Houston has a plethora of good pass rushers and was No. 2 in total defense without Williams. The Texans don't need to throw the money truck at the former No. 1 overall pick, who is looking for a huge payday despite his injury. But the Bills can definitely use Williams. The biggest question is could the team convince Williams to come to Buffalo? That could be a long shot, but if the Bills are willing to spend more than anyone else, that would help their chances. Buffalo general manager Buddy Nix said the Bills will spend to the cap this year.

New York Jets (8-8)

Free agent: S Michael Griffin (Titans)

Age: 27

2011 stats: 75 tackles, two interceptions

Analysis: There is no way around it. The Jets need two starting safeties next season. Jim Leonhard is a free agent coming off a season-ending knee injury and Eric Smith struggled last season. New York must patch up this weakness, which continually was exposed last season. One could come from the draft and the other in free agency. I think Griffin is the best veteran safety on the market, although some may argue for hard-hitting LaRon Landry of the Washington Redskins. It's a valid debate. But Griffin is more consistent and a better all-around player, and versatility is needed in New York's defense. Griffin also is durable. He's never missed a game for Tennessee in five seasons. I would assume the Titans will try to keep Griffin. But I think the Jets should make a push to outbid for the unrestricted free agent.

New England Patriots (13-3)

Free agent: WR Brandon Lloyd (Rams)

Age: 31

2011 stats: 70 receptions, 966 yards, five touchdowns

Analysis: Lloyd would be a great fit and a classic Patriots free agent. Similar to 2011 additions Brian Waters and Andre Carter, Lloyd is not the sexiest name on the market, but he could make a big impact. Lloyd put up solid numbers despite being traded from the Denver Broncos to the Rams during the season and dealing with different quarterbacks. Two seasons ago Lloyd led the NFL with 1,448 receiving yards. Lloyd had his best seasons under Josh McDaniels in Denver and St. Louis, and McDaniels is taking over as New England's offensive coordinator in 2012. Chad Ochocinco is a non-factor and Deion Branch may be on his last legs. Lloyd would happily join the reigning AFC champions and provide the deep threat New England is looking for.

Rough opening night for Bills first-teamers

August, 9, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

CANTON, Ohio -- Good thing the Buffalo Bills get five of these games.

Their first exhibition didn't go so well for the starters on either side of the ball or on special teams.

At the end of the first quarter and down 14-0 to the Tennessee Titans in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, the Bills' starters appear done for the evening.

Bills coach Dick Jauron gave his starting offense one series. Trent Edwards, running the new no-huddle offense against an opponent for the first time, looked good until throwing an interception at the 7-yard line.

On the series, Edwards completed three of his four passes for 34 yards and scrambled 8 yards to convert a third down. Terrell Owens had 27 of those aerial yards on two receptions, both for first downs. But Titans safety Michael Griffin snuffed the drive.

Buffalo's first-team defense surrendered a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Tennessee went 73 yards on 11 plays to take a 14-0 lead. Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin gave up a 19-yard Justin Gage reception on a third-and-15 play.

Buffalo's special teams got burned for the first touchdown. Tennessee's backup punter, rookie A.J. Trapasso, executed a brilliant hide-the-ball fake and darted 40 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown.

Blogger debate: Jets vs. Titans

November, 20, 2008
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Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky and Tim Graham

In advance of the New York Jets vs. Tennessee Titans on Sunday in Nashville, AFC East blogger Tim Graham and AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky debate what this November showdown means. The Jets could make a statement by ruining the Titans' hopes of a 16-0 regular season. Graham and Kuharsky debate other factors that should be considered.

CollinsFavre

Which graybeard quarterback will carry the day?
Paul Kuharsky: Well, Timothy, it's hard to argue against Brett Favre's contagious enthusiasm, but Kerry Collins is asked to provide something entirely different for the Titans. He's calm and cool, which fits a Jeff Fisher team perfectly. Odds are he throws for under 200 yards. Odds also are he doesn't get picked off or make a big mistake that puts his defense in a tough spot.

Tim Graham: I hear you loud and clear, Brocephus. But the Jets seem to have located their offensive happy place with Favre. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has reached a comfort level in calling plays for the type of quarterback the Jets weren't used to. Favre appears to be settling into his role -- somewhere between swashbuckler and game manager. I like to call him a swashmangler.

PK: Very wordsmithy of you. I know Farve's enjoyed joining a team that upgraded the offensive line before he arrived. One key to the Titans' success has been that they consistently get pass pressure from their front four. Kyle Vanden Bosch expects to be back from a groin injury that's pretty much cost him five weeks. Side-by-side with Albert Haynesworth, they'll look to overpower and outwork the left side of the Jets' line.

TG: The Jets' offensive line has been sensational. Alan Faneca has performed as advertised. Nick Mangold is turning into an elite center. But the New England Patriots, without Adalius Thomas and Ty Warren, got to Favre three times last week. Favre went down Strahan-style.

 
 Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire
 New York's run defense will be tested by Tennessee's Chris Johnson on Sunday.

How will the Titans' running game fare against the Jets' 3-4 defense?
TG: The element of Sunday's game I'm most fascinated to see unfold is how New York's run defense handles Tennessee's running backs. Two of my favorite players to watch this year have been Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins and Titans rookie Chris Johnson. The Jets have the fourth-ranked defense against the run. The Patriots didn't even bother last week, choosing to let Matt Cassel throw 50 times. The Jets' front seven are scary.

PK: Collins threw it 41 times in Chicago, but the Titans will be determined to hand the ball off. Still, the Titans likely will continue to look to get Johnson additional touches in the passing game, trying to set him free in space against favorable matchups. I certainly wouldn't be looking to get him up the middle against Jenkins. If offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger sees the Jets selling out to reduce the risk of big-plays by Johnson, then he'll give somebody else like Bo Scaife, Justin Gage or LenDale White more chances.

TG: I wonder how much of this game will hinge on Collins' arm. The Jets have a couple of stars in their secondary. Cornerback Darrelle Revis is one of the NFL's best, and safety Kerry Rhodes is Pro Bowl-caliber. But they were concerned enough with rookie cornerback Dwight Lowery's shaky play that they signed Ty Law, who hadn't played in 11 months.

PK: The Titans will be content to dink and dunk against that crew if that's what they have to do. Patience won't be a problem. And I suspect they'll like their chances of getting Favre to try to force a couple against their own group of rising DBs who are establishing names for themselves. Cortland Finnegan, Michael Griffin and Chris Hope each rank at the top of the AFC with four picks. If they can get one or two here, I like the Titans' chances. If they can't, this could be loss No. 1.

Which team has more to prove?
PK: It takes a 10-0 start and Favre coming to town with the hot Jets for Jim Nantz and Phil Simms to call a game for CBS in Nashville for the first time. The Titans love to cast themselves as the under-the-radar underdogs. They know they'll be drawing a lot of eyeballs Sunday and that
if they lose, there will be people who say the Titans weren't worthy the hype.

TG: One of the more nauseating sports phenomena is when teams try to underdog each other. Every team wants to enter a game feeling as though they're not being taken seriously. But the Jets feel that way, Paul. I mean, they were so emotional last week they actually were shedding tears before and after beating the Patriots. The Jets come into Sunday's game with a chip on their shoulder even though they're from the nation's biggest media market. Don't forget, the reason they went out and made all these splashy offseason moves was because they were sick of being in the New York Giants' shadow.

PK: The Titans would take a loss to this New York team if they could trade it for a Super Bowl matchup against the other New York team. I'm with you on the artificial underdog and faux disrespect stuff. Griffin played good defense against the Jaguars, then got all twisted up in the postgame locker room. He said people get tired of teams or athletes who win all the time, that they are rooting against the Titans just like they rooted against Michael Phelps. Yeah, nobody wanted to see that guy with all those gold medals around his neck.

TG: If Mercury Morris is OK with the notion you might go undefeated, then you're not exactly Public Enemy No. 1. In my travels around the AFC East, I haven't heard any negative talk about those dastardly Titans. I think the Patriots still lead the conference in haters. But if that's how the Titans are getting themselves jacked up, so be it. As Crash Davis once scolded Annie Savoy: "A player on a streak has to respect the streak." Whatever the Titans are doing to get mentally prepared, it is working.

PK: Even the truest Titans fan has to admit there would be at least one upside to a loss: Morris would disappear for another year.

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