AFC East: Mike Zimmer
Losses by the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints help the Dolphins speed up their coaching search this week. Miami already is interviewing Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Monday.
Miami previously interviewed Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and might want to speak to him again. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross would prefer an offensive coach who can put an exciting product on the field. The same goes for Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, who might draw some interest. Both Philbin and Carmichael had two of the NFL's most explosive offenses this season.
McCoy is generating a lot of buzz in NFL circles after doing the best with what he had in Denver. He used quarterback Tim Tebow in a read-option offense, won the AFC West and advanced to the divisional round.
It seems likely that Ross will hire from the NFL assistant ranks. Other than Fisher, Miami interviewed Philbin, Chicago Bears special teams coach Dave Toub, Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and Dolphins interim coach Todd Bowles.
- The NFL Network reports Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is scheduled to interview with the Miami Dolphins.
- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady says he's excited for a reunion with offensive assistant Josh McDaniels.
- San Francisco 49ers safety and former Buffalo Bill Donte Whitner is on a roll. After ripping Bills coach Chan Gailey, Whitner also tweets his disapproval of McDaniels being allowed to go to New England before the end of the league year.
- Bills receiver coach Stan Hixon reportedly will join Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien at Penn State.
- Guess which player led the New York Jets in penalties this year?
Here are some notes Wednesday from the Bills' locker room:
- Buffalo starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick knows how maligned his offense line was during the preseason. It was expected to be one of the weakest areas of the team. But the group has played well through three games. Buffalo's offensive line has only allowed just one sack and is opening a lot of holes for running back Fred Jackson. Fitzpatrick said it's time to give his linemen some credit. "These guys are playing really well up front," Fitzpatrick said. "It's not like I'm taking one step and throwing the ball. I've been able to sit back there, throw the ball and not take a lot of hits. ... They do deserve more credit than they're getting."[+] EnlargeRick Stewart/Getty ImagesBuffalo's offensive has given Ryan Fitzpatrick plenty of time in the pocket.
- Bills head coach Chan Gailey said he isn't surprised Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton has taken over as a first-year starter. Buffalo and Cincinnati were the two coaching staffs in this year's Senior Bowl, and Dalton impressed both staffs. The Bengals later took Dalton in the second round this past April. Dalton has thrown for 570 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. It also looks like Dalton will have some help. Embattled running back Cedric Benson will play Sunday, according to Bengals coach Marvin Lewis.
- The Bills also said they have a lot of respect for the Bengals' defense. "They're not third in the league for nothing," Gailey said. "They're good." Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has his group playing well. It will be a matchup of strengths. Buffalo is leading the league in scoring with 113 points.
- Buffalo kicker Rian Lindell was awarded the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his game-winning kick against the New England Patriots. Lindell was 2-for-2 on field goals and made all four extra points. The Bills also promoted cornerback Terrence Wheatley to the 53-man roster and released backup tight end David Martin.
- Bills veteran linebacker Shawne Merriman is impressed with how this young Buffalo team is handling success. Merriman has been on four playoff teams as a member of the San Diego Chargers. "I've been in a situation like that for a long time, and like I've said, these guys in this locker room handle it as well as anybody I've ever been around," Merriman said. "They're very mature and we got a bunch of guys who's focused right now."
The New England Patriots didn't need to do much research when it came to Deltha O'Neal.
They have his highlight films playing in their heads.
"We got killed by him, yes," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday at his daily news conference when asked about his new CB. O'Neal, cut by the Cincinnati Bengals over the weekend, signed today with Patriots.
O'Neal, 31, played his first four seasons with the Denver Broncos and his past four with the Bengals. The two-time Pro Bowler has 30 career interceptions, including a career-high 10 in 2005.
O'Neal intercepted Patriots QB Tom Brady twice in an Oct. 28 victory for the Broncos.
"Yeah, I remember -- very well," Brady said. "There were four picks in the second half ... actually in the fourth quarter. He made a diving catch that was pretty awesome.
"You don't want to mess around with him that much. He has great ball skills. In college [California], he could do everything. He was a receiver, defensive back and he returned kicks. Hopefully, he can add some of that play-making ability to our team."
The knock on O'Neal in Cincy was that he wasn't compatible with new defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's high-pressure system. The Bengals' CBs need to have excellent man-to-man skills, and O'Neal has lost a step.
But Belichick apparently didn't think that was enough reason to ignore O'Neal once he hit the street.
"We played him last year in Cincinnati, and I did some work on him going into that game and saw him the rest of the season and in preseason this year," Belichick said. "He is a very athletic corner, good ball skills, pretty big guy that goes up and plays a lot of press coverage.
"[He is] a physical player, good tackler, good interceptor, returner. We have seen the back of his jersey on that a couple of times."