AFC East: Morning take

Morning take: Dolphins at a crossroads

November, 13, 2014
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Thursday from around the web:
  • Jeff Darlington of the NFL Network writes the Dolphins (5-4) are at a crossroads leading into their game against the Buffalo Bills (5-4).
Morning take: This is an elimination game for both AFC East rivals. So expect it to be tense. The Bills have won three in a row in this series.
  • Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald writes Thursday's game could be a barometer for the Dolphins' future.
Morning take: The pressure is certainly on Miami. The Dolphins cannot afford to lose this game if they want to remain in the playoff hunt. The margin for error now is slim.
  • Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel writes it's time for the Dolphins to put up or pack up.
Morning take: I said weeks ago that Miami must beat the Bills and sweep the lowly Jets to stay in playoff contention. A loss in any of those games most likely ends Miami's postseason chances.
  • Dave George of the Palm Beach Post writes the Dolphins can prove they are a contender with a win.
Morning take: A win would put Miami at 6-4 with six games remaining. That keeps the Dolphins in the hunt.
Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday in the AFC East: Morning take: This is rare good news of late for New England. Ballard is expected to ease the blow of losing Aaron Hernandez, who was released after getting charged for murder this offseason. Ballard is a different player but proved in the past that he can produce.
  • With Mark Anderson’s release, Jerry Hughes and Manny Lawson are the favorites to start at defensive end/outside linebacker for the Buffalo Bills.
Morning take: Hughes and Lawson are better fits for Mike Pettine’s defense, anyway. Anderson proved to be a bad signing for Buffalo. But at least the team wasn’t afraid to cut bait.
  • Former New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis has been medically cleared by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before training camp.
Morning take: This is bad news for the Jets, who will play Tampa Bay in Week 1. Don't expect Revis to do much in training camp. But chances are Revis will be ready for revenge on the Jets in the regular season.
Morning take: Tannehill finally has the weapons around him. So it’s natural to expect a better season. Tannehill must avoid a sophomore slump for Miami to take the next step.
Here are the most interesting stories Friday in the AFC East: Morning take: Optimism is high in Miami, but Pouncey is doing the right thing by avoiding prognostication. Leave that to the AFC East blog -- which picked the Dolphins as its sleeper team for 2013.
Morning take: Shawn Powell beat out longtime Bills punter Brian Moorman last year. So you have to make Powell a sizable favorite to keep his job over Brian Stahovich in training camp.
Morning take: Probably not. The Patriots have several issues on offense, and a fullback can't fix them.
  • When will receiver Santonio Holmes be ready to return to the New York Jets?
Morning take: Holmes’ return has been a mystery. His broken foot has taken a while to heal and he probably won’t be full-go in training camp. The Jets can certainly use Holmes as soon as possible.
Here are the most interesting stories on the Fourth of July in the AFC East:
  • The New England Patriots will have a new logo in the end zone at Gillette Stadium.
Morning take: I didn’t see anything wrong with the old one, so this appears to be change for the sake of change. I guess any Patriots news not related to Aaron Hernandez is a good thing.
  • Buffalo Bills quarterback Kevin Kolb doesn't think he’s a placeholder for first-round pick EJ Manuel.
Morning take: Kolb has to think that way -- but the reality is that Manuel will get his chance sooner or later. It is Kolb’s job to hold Manuel off as long as he can.
Morning take: Wilkerson is one of the returning stars on defense for the Jets, and conditioning will be important. He will play a lot of reps and the team will count on him for leadership.
Morning take: Sims is a better run-blocker than Dustin Keller and Michael Egnew, but can he make enough plays in the passing game? Sims' progress will be something to watch in training camp.
Here are the most interesting stories Tuesday in the AFC East: Morning take: Both Jones and defensive tackle Randy Starks want large extensions. But Miami already spent a lot of money in free agency this offseason. So there’s no assurance that one or both will get their wishes.
  • New York Jets receiver Stephen Hill is working out with Pro Bowl corner and teammate Antonio Cromartie.
Morning take: This is a good idea for Hill, who must step up big for the Jets to have offensive success this year. Hill needs to stay healthy and prove that he can be consistent with his routes and catching.
Morning take: Chandler has been making good progress, but there's no reason to push things too hard. The Bills need to be careful to manage Chandler this summer to prevent re-injury.
Morning take: You can never count out a Patriots team that has a healthy Tom Brady and has Bill Belichick. But this year’s New England team has a lot of question marks and less talent than the 2011 and 2012 teams.
Here are the most interesting stories Friday in the AFC East:
  • Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly believes Kevin Kolb is ahead of rookie EJ Manuel in the quarterback race.
Morning take: Kelly attended Buffalo's practices in the spring and viewed things from a former player's perspective. Kolb has the experience edge, and that has made for an early lead. Manuel has some ground to make up in training camp if he wants to play against the New England Patriots in Week 1.
  • Speaking of the Patriots, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell warned teams this week about claiming embattled tight end Aaron Hernandez off waivers.
Morning take: The NFL said a signing would have to get league approval, considering Hernandez is facing a murder charge and five additional gun charges. That essentially means the league doesn't want any additional attention right now by having Hernandez on an NFL roster during his legal process.
  • One of the marquee games on the Miami Dolphins’ schedule will be against the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in Week 5.
Morning take: I guess it’s never too early to look ahead to the regular season. This will be the end of a rough, five-game stretch for Miami to start the season. It also marks a revenge game for new Dolphins linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.
Morning take: Good pick by’s Rich Cimini to list guard Vladimir Ducasse at the top. The Jets have waited three years and haven’t gotten much from the former second-round pick. With former general manager Mike Tannenbaum no longer around to protect his roster spot, Ducasse must be ready to play in training camp.
Here are the most interesting stories Monday in the AFC East: Morning take: Miami hosted Leach immediately after he was released by the Baltimore Ravens. There is definite interest, but as usual it will come down to money. The Dolphins must outbid others like the Houston Texans, New York Giants and Tennessee Titans.
Morning take: Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady are among the biggest power pairs in football. However, it appears New England’s title window is closing with both in the twilight of their careers. Rare offseason concerns in New England lead me to believe the Patriots will not be as good as the 2011 or 2012 teams.
  • Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett feels good to have starting tight end Scott Chandler (knee) back.
Morning take: Chandler was an underrated but important part of Buffalo’s offense under former head coach Chan Gailey. It’s unknown how much the tight end will be used in Hackett’s new offense. But Chandler can produce if he stays healthy.
Morning take: The Jets will certainly need it. Cromartie is now the No. 1 corner in New York following the offseason trade of Darrelle Revis. Cromartie cannot afford to have off weeks for the Jets.
Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday in the AFC East:
  • Massachusetts police searched the home of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in connection with a homicide investigation.
Morning take: The important thing is that Hernandez is not a suspect. However, it’s hard to tell how serious a matter this will be until all the facts are released.
Morning take: Although you can’t completely rule it out, leaving Starks with the franchise tag makes sense for the Dolphins. Miami spent more than $200 million in long-term contracts and can’t tie itself up further with big extensions.
  • Will there be any movement in talks between the Buffalo Bills and safety Jairus Byrd?
Morning take: There’s no reason to worry just yet. Byrd is obviously unhappy with the franchise tag. But the Bills have the cap room to work out an agreement, so it’s always possible the sides can reach a deal by later this summer.
Morning take: Ellis will be coming off the bench and needs to bring quality depth to the trenches. Injuries often occur on the defensive line, so Ellis must stay ready.

Morning take: Bills tried to get Babin

November, 29, 2012
Here are the most interesting stories Thursday in the AFC East: Morning take: This is interesting because the Bills put a lot of money into defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson last offseason. Trying to claim Babin shows that the team is still looking to add more of a pass rush. The Bills could face Babin this weekend now that he's a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Morning take: Sunday's game is the biggest of the year for Miami, but there is no reason to be intimidated. The Dolphins don't have the firepower but must take their best shot.
Morning take: Stallworth nearly made the team in training camp, so he is on the short list if the Patriots need more depth.
  • New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez's numbers are improving.
Morning take: Numbers sometimes can be deceiving. Sanchez had a 300-yard game on Thanksgiving against the Patriots. But most of that production came in the second half after the team trailed 35-3.
Here are the most interesting stories Saturday morning in the AFC East: Morning take: Tebow has a story and message that a lot of people want to hear. This will be his second big speech this offseason.
  • Miami Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano said some players were unhappy about the team's decision to do HBO's "Hard Knocks."
Morning take: The show isn't the easiest thing to do for players who want their privacy in training camp. But the bigger picture is Miami could use the national attention and try to change the perception that it's a downtrodden franchise.
  • Brad Smith exclusively at quarterback, the Buffalo Bills moved him back to wide receiver in practice Friday.
Morning take: I wrote that Buffalo was dropping the ball with Smith several days ago. It seems the Bills figured it out. There's nothing wrong with Smith getting work at both positions, but he needs to play some receiver. Buffalo paying $15 million to a No. 3 quarterback just isn't a wise investment.
Morning take: New England is not an incredibly athletic team, but the Patriots are smart and skilled. This year's draft picks were a good indication the team wanted to get faster at all positions.

Morning take: Will Pats' D step up?

February, 4, 2012
Here are the most interesting stories Saturday morning in the AFC East: Morning take: The Giants are a tough challenge, particularly in the passing game. But New England's defense has been solid, allowing just 30 points in two postseason games. Red zone defense will be key.
  • Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus says Patriots quarterback Tom Brady "cries to the referees" and it "always goes his way."
Morning take: I don't understand all the Brady hate this week. He's only playing in his fifth Super Bowl. Maybe this was payback for the comment Brady made about Buffalo hotels.
Morning take: Sun Life Stadium is not all that impressive. There's no energy and nothing special about it. But the Dolphins say change is coming.
  • New York Jets coach Rex Ryan says quarterback Mark Sanchez and receiver Santonio Holmes will work things out.
Morning take: They have no choice if they want to be successful next season. Holmes will be the No. 1 receiver for New York and Sanchez most likely will be the starting quarterback, barring something crazy happening with a guy in Indianapolis.
Here are the most interesting stories Sunday morning in the AFC East:
  • The time for talk is over. The New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens look to seize this opportunity to go to the Super Bowl.
Morning take: Both teams have been respectful and cordial all week in the media. But expect championship-level play and intensity in what should be a competitive AFC title game.
Morning take: This is often the case and good for Philbin. I sense there will be a clear delineation in Miami of who coaches (Philbin) and who picks the players (Jeff Ireland). Early hints are there won't be a lot of overlap.
  • Former New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will take the same post with the St. Louis Rams.
Morning take: Schottenheimer failed to develop Mark Sanchez in New York. Can he develop another young quarterback -- Sam Bradford -- in St. Louis?
Morning take: I liked Williams coming out of the draft and he proved me correct by showing flashes as a rookie. Williams, a second-round pick, could be a starter at some point next season.
Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday morning in the AFC East: Morning take: With time running out, this is most likely Miami's final list. Which coach of this group would Dolphins fans prefer?
Morning take: It’s an interesting thought, consider Deion Branch is on his last legs and Chad Ochocinco isn’t a good fit. But I still think New England would be better off drafting defenders with its two first-round picks.
Morning take: This is part of the plan to keep the Bills in western New York. The stadium lease runs out in 2013, so Buffalo is on the clock.
Morning take: There are plenty of skeptics based on what we saw from Miami’s offense under Sparano the past few years. The biggest question is whether Sparano will be able to develop quarterback Mark Sanchez in his fourth season.
Here are the most interesting stories Friday morning in the AFC East:
  • New England Patriots starting safety Patrick Chung (foot) looks ready to return for this weekend’s game against the Miami Dolphins.
Morning take: This is great news for the Patriots, who have played receivers in the secondary at times in Chung’s absence. Chung is the team’s best and most athletic safety, and any improvement on New England’s defense is much needed for its playoff run.
Morning take: The Giants say they will go at Revis, who has heard that in the past. It would be a bold move by the Giants, but I don’t think they will follow through on it. That’s not a sound strategy for a team that needs to win this big game.
  • Were the Buffalo Bills interested in USC quarterback Matt Barkley, who opted to return for his senior season?
Morning take: Barkley would have been a hot commodity for several teams in the top 10. But I don’t think Buffalo was one of them. The Bills’ brass say they are moving forward with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and taking a quarterback that high would send the wrong message.
Morning take: It most likely would be as a general overseer. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross seems comfortable having someone above general manager Jeff Ireland. But Peterson probably would be less involved in personnel than Bill Parcells was.

Morning take: AFC East goes 3-1

September, 19, 2011
It appears my good luck already is showing. The AFC East is 6-2 through the first two weeks.

Here are the most interesting stories Monday in the division: Morning take: The Bills are 2-0 and one of the NFL's early surprises. They showed tremendous heart overcoming a 21-3 deficit in the second half. We will know a lot more about the upstart Bills after next week's divisional showdown with the New England Patriots.
  • Mary Poaletti of Comcast SportsNet New England believes the Patriots' secondary needs to tighten up.
Morning take: The Patriots (2-0) are rolling in most areas with wins against the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers. But pass defense has been one constant weakness in both weeks. New England gave up 372 passing yards to San Diego on Sunday.
Morning take: The dreaded high ankle sprain usually keeps players out for a few weeks. The Jets' offensive line has been up and down and needs Mangold back as soon as possible.
Morning take: I agree. I liked Thomas’ production (107 yards) in between the tackles. His fumble was a big error, but that's what rookies often do.