AFC East: Oakland Raiders

Join us today at 1 p.m. ET, 10 a.m. PT for ESPN’s NFL Nation TV’s Spreecast episode No. 8. Host Paul Gutierrez (Oakland Raiders reporter), co-host Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and guests Mike Reiss (New England Patriots reporter) and Ben Goessling (Minnesota Vikings reporter) discuss a range of topics from the Bills going on the market to the ongoing controversy surrounding the name of the NFL’s Washington, D.C. franchise to garage sales, yes, garage sales. Viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well as contribute in the chat feature.
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen saw something a little familiar in the game of Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack when he flipped on the tape.

After he fell in love, that is.

A skill set similar to that of Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller.

Sure, Allen only had Miller for one season, his rookie campaign, but what a year it was. Miller was the NFL's defensive rookie of the year after racking up 11.5 sacks and forcing four fumbles with Allen as his defensive coordinator.

"Absolutely, I saw a lot of similarities between him and Von Miller," Allen said of Mack after the Raiders selected him with the No. 5 overall pick Thursday night.

[+] EnlargeKhalil Mack
Kirk Irwin/Getty ImagesKhalil Mack had 10.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss while with the University of Buffalo last season.
"And the thing that really was attractive about Khalil Mack was the fact that he understands how to rush the passer. And he understands how to rush the passer with power."

Mack, recruited by only two colleges out of high school, was the MAC's defensive player of the year last season after recording 10.5 sacks with 19 tackles for a loss. In fact, his 75 career tackles for a loss are the most in FBS since the statistic was tracked nationally in 2000.

Still, the furthest West he ever played in college was in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho, to end his college career. Before that, it was at Baylor.

"The conversation was crazy," Mack said of the call he received when the Raiders tabbed him. "I started on the phone with an assistant or a scout, and then I got on the phone with Reggie McKenzie, and then Dennis Allen told me how he wants to use me. It's a blessing to have this opportunity. I'm going to make the most of it."

Mack was not aware yet of the Miller comparison, but he was excited to join the likes of new Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck.

"Justin Tuck, man, how about that?" Mack said. "Playing with him is a blessing. Knowing how good he is and what he's done, it'll be good to learn from him. I can't tell you how excited I am."

Mack would appear to be a natural fit at weakside linebacker in the Raiders' 4-3 base defense, potentially making veteran Kevin Burnett expendable. But while Allen would not comment on a specific role for the rookie yet, McKenzie said Mack would have an immediate impact. Especially with the Raiders having an NFL-low 12 sacks with four or fewer pass-rushers last season, per data from ESPN Stats & Information.

"The guy has the size," McKenzie said. "He has the length. He's got speed. He's a playmaker. We'll find a way to put him on the field and get some production out of him."

Added Allen: "He'll have his hand on the ground some, too. I envision his role being very similar to what we did with Von Miller."

The Raiders are banking on similar results.
The New York Jets took a hit on the first day of free agency, losing right tackle Austin Howard to the Oakland Raiders. They landed him with a five-year, $30 million contract, including $15 million in guarantees, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported.

Howard
The entire Howard negotiation provided a glimpse into general manager John Idzik's approach and his reputation as a tough negotiator. He placed a specific value on Howard, a two-year starter, and refused to budge. In the end, he decided not to match Oakland's $6 million-a-year offer, a steep price for a player of Howard's ilk.

There "wasn't a big difference" between the Jets' offer and Howard's asking price, a source said Tuesday night. "It wouldn't have been a stretch for them, but Idzik drew a line in the sand." Talks broke off Tuesday afternoon and Howard got on a plane to the West Coast, becoming an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m. Howard has a comfort level with Raiders offensive line coach Tony Sparano, formerly the Jets' coordinator, and that played a role in his decision.

So what does this mean for the Jets? Well, it means they have to replace the right side of their line -- and that's never a good thing.

Guard Willie Colon is a free agent and not likely to return. A possible replacement for Howard will arrive Wednesday for free-agent visit -- Breno Giacomini, who spent the last three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. He started nine games in 2013, missing seven with a knee injury. Giacomini, originally a fifth-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2008, has 33 career starts. Idzik, a former Seattle executive, likes him a lot. Giacomini, 28, is a serviceable player, but he doesn't have Howard's upside.

The Jets also made an inquiry about right tackle Zach Strief, whom many believe was the New Orleans Saints' best lineman last season. Evidently, the Jets aren't giving strong consideration to any in-house options. Howard's backup last season was Oday Aboushi, who didn't dress for a single game in what amounted to a redshirt rookie year.

Idzik will get ripped, no doubt, for losing an ascending player like Howard. Let's see how he fills the void before drawing any conclusions.

Live blog: Raiders at Jets

December, 8, 2013
12/08/13
10:00
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Join our ESPN.com NFL experts as they break down the Oakland Raiders' visit to the New York Jets. Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET. And, be sure to visit our NFL Nation Blitz page for commentary from every game, as well as fan photos and the latest buzz from Twitter. See you there.
 
McGloin-LandryGetty ImagesRaiders QB Matt McGloin will test his mettle against Dawan Landry and the Jets' defense.
The New York Jets and Oakland Raiders are a lot alike. They're rebuilding teams, slumping and struggling for answers at the quarterback position -- and yet they remain mathematically alive in the AFC wild-card race. Go figure.

The old AFL rivals meet Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Jets (5-7) have dropped three straight; the Raiders (4-8) have lost four of their past five, plus 12 straight in the Eastern time zone, dating to 2009. Jets team reporter Rich Cimini and Raiders team reporter Paul Gutierrez break down the matchup.

Cimini: Paul, let's start at quarterback. Terrelle Pryor got hurt, creating an opportunity for Matt McGloin. I bet casual NFL fans didn't know anything about him until recently, but he's actually put up decent numbers. He's Ken Stabler compared to Geno Smith. Tell me about McGloin and his game.

Gutierrez: Matt McGloin is your prototypical undersized, undrafted, chip-on-the-shoulder signal-caller who was invited to Napa, Calif., merely as a fourth arm, a "camp arm" who, through attrition, outlasted a fourth-round draft pick in Tyler Wilson, a purported big-money franchise quarterback in Matt Flynn and a new-jack, zone-read specialist in Terrelle Pryor for whom the term "moxie" was apparently invented. Whew ... hope that makes sense. Truly, though, McGloin is your standard pocket passer who is not afraid to step up in the pocket to make a throw and take a hit.

It's the skill set that Dennis Allen obviously prefers, and with a steady offensive line and sound running game, it's what works in this staff's offense under coordinator Greg Olson. Because what the offense loses with Pryor and his legs (remember that 93-yard TD run he had against the Steelers?), it gains in field vision. Many think it's actually a wash, though. Pryor, now that his sprained right knee, which he actually reaggravated on the MetLife Stadium turf against the Giants on Nov. 10, is healed, might give the Raiders a better shot against the Jets' defense. Allen has even said he wants to see Pryor on the field.

Let's stick with quarterbacks: Is Geno Smith the future in Gotham, or was his being named the starter -- again -- that vaunted kiss of death? And what about Mark Sanchez's prospects next year? Seems like the Jets have set themselves up for a QB controversy for the foreseeable future, with little to gain.

Cimini: It's "Groundhog Day," Paul. The Jets went through the same uncertainty a year ago. The names have changed, but it's the same story: The Jets don't have a definitive answer at quarterback. Smith was rushed into this job when Sanchez got hurt in the preseason, and after showing some early promise, he crashed back to reality. Smith has the physical tools, but he's overwhelmed. The game is too big for him, and he needs to spend some time on the bench to gather himself, but that hasn't happened because the Jets don't have a proven backup. Matt Simms is the Jets' version of McGloin, and David Garrard (remember him?) has been stuck in mothballs for three years.

So, basically, they're going to ride it out with Smith to see if he's the future. I think they already know the answer to that question; Smith is putting up some historically bad numbers. Sanchez, recovering from shoulder surgery, will be playing elsewhere next year. Hey, maybe he'll be in Oakland.

We're talking about two bad offenses here, but at least the Raiders saw some flashes from Andre Holmes. Is he for real and do they have playmakers to exploit the Jets' suspect secondary?

Gutierrez: I see what you did there with the Sanchize-to-Oaktown ploy. And, yeah, maybe a change of scenery back to his native West Coast would do him good. Well played, sir. Well played. As far as Andre Holmes goes, though, he might actually personify these Raiders -- that is, he's an undrafted player who washed out in two other spots and was thus undervalued (think of the Raiders' O.co Coliseum roomie, Billy Beane's Moneyball Athletics). Holmes looked legit against the Cowboys, his most recent team, in catching seven passes for 136 yards after coming into the game with five catches for 76 yards ... in his career. He's a big target at 6-foot-4 and not a burner from the days of Al Davis yore. But we're talking an extremely small sample size.

The Raiders' "playmakers" are guys who really have been either (A) phased out or (B) injured or (C) both. Paging Pryor, running back Darren McFadden and receivers Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore. McFadden, though, might actually get a lot of run in the Meadowlands (they still call it that, right?). At least they don't have to deal with Revis Island (I joke, I joke).

Still, the Jets' defense as a whole can be good and the Raiders are going to have to account for rookie defensive end Sheldon Richardson. Has he hit the "rookie wall" yet, or is that merely something for other rookies to worry about?

Cimini: Oakland's Holmes is doing better than the Jets' Holmes (Santonio), but that's a story for another day. As for Richardson, his pass-rushing production has dipped a bit, but he remains a good, every-down player. He plays the run very well, which has surprised many because that was supposedly the knock on him when he came out of college.

If I were Dennis Allen, I'd be more concerned about Muhammad Wilkerson, who has a team-high 10 sacks and deserves to be in the conversation for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. At 315 pounds, Wilkerson is mostly an interior player, but he moves around. He lines up over the center, the guard ... anywhere. He's by far the best player on defense, probably the best player on the team. He's the key to the best run defense in the league.

Speaking of defense, I'm curious to see how the Raiders attack Smith. Most teams just load the box, overplay the run and dare Smith to beat them with his arm. Clearly, the Jets' receivers don't scare anyone. How do you see the Raiders playing this game?

Gutierrez: I see the Raiders sticking to their M.O. of blitzing with aplomb, racking up sacks early, building a quick lead and then trying desperately to finish out a game strong. That's been their formula (the jumping-out-to-a-lead part, not the blowing-leads bit) and I would imagine they would continue that line of thinking, but keeping someone to spy Smith, someone like a wily old vet in Charles Woodson, while being mindful of slant passes. That absolutely killed them against Tennessee.

The key for the Raiders on defense is to not get so worn down by halftime. It bit them in the season opener at Indianapolis, at home against Washington and Tennessee, and on the road against the Giants and Dallas. At least the Raiders will be coming off a long break, having last played on Thanksgiving, so a short week won't be readily available as an excuse this time, as it was against the Cowboys.

Eight in the Box: Breakout player

April, 12, 2013
4/12/13
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NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Who is one potential breakout player for each AFC East team in 2013?

Buffalo Bills: Last year Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller was one of the breakout players in the entire NFL. This season, Buffalo's breakout star most likely will be on the other side of the football. Bills starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore showed a lot of tools in his rookie season when he recorded 61 tackles, forced three fumbles and nabbed an interception. The Bills had the NFL's 10th-ranked pass defense and Gilmore took on the challenge as a rookie to guard the opponent’s best receiver each week. He is a fearless player who is already solid in a lot of areas. But Gilmore needs to work on making more big plays for the Bills this season and beyond in order to take the next step.

Miami Dolphins: The tailback who led the Dolphins in yards per carry last season was not Reggie Bush. It was actually second-year running back Lamar Miller, who averaged 4.9 yards per carry in 2012. Miller shined in limited opportunities during his rookie season. He displayed good vision and explosiveness, and appears to be a natural fit for Miami's West Coast offense under head coach Joe Philbin. Miller is the reason Miami had no issues letting Bush walk in free agency. Bush signed with the Detroit Lions after getting little interest from the Dolphins. Miller will get a lot more carries this season and pair with backup Daniel Thomas in Miami's backfield. Miller's weakness is pass protection, but he looked great last year carrying the football.

New England Patriots: The Patriots didn't necessarily need to draft a linebacker last year, but Dont'a Hightower was too good to pass up at the end of the first round. Hightower was considered an NFL-ready prospect and made an immediate impact with the Patriots. He recorded 60 tackles and four sacks with New England. Another year of experience should make Hightower even better in Year 2. Health permitting, Hightower should be a physical force in New England for years to come.

New York Jets: The Jets made several low-cost signings this offseason due to a tight salary cap. However, the free-agent signing that stands out for the Jets is running back Mike Goodson. He spent his career backing up quality tailbacks such as DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Darren McFadden with the Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders, respectively. Goodson averages 4.5 yards per carry in his career and is a projected starter for the first time in New York. Goodson has the quickness to fit in well with the Jets' change to a West Coast offense under Marty Mornhinweg. He'll need to keep up the same production with the increased workload.
The local and national media has written tons about the Miami Dolphins this offseason. Not once did anyone mention upgrading the linebacker position as a primary need.

Apparently, Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby also was as surprised as anyone. Dansby was cut just hours after Miami agreed to terms with former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe to a five-year, $35 million contract.

WMEN radio in Miami caught up with Dansby, who said Wednesday that he didn’t have any inkling he could lose his job with the Dolphins this offseason.

“No, not one day and not one indication,” Dansby said. “Not a hint. Not even anything. It was all ‘Let’s get ready for the next season. What do we have to do to improve?’

“It was a shock to me like it was a shock to everybody else.”

Dansby had a solid year in Miami, where he recorded a team-high 134 tackles and one sack. Miami’s front seven and solid linebacker play were primary reasons the Dolphins won seven games last season.

The Dolphins wanted to get younger and more athletic at linebacker. Dansby and Kevin Burnett are 30 or older. Miami cut both after signing the younger Ellerbe and former Oakland Raiders linebacker Philip Wheeler.

What the Dolphins probably won’t admit publicly is Dansby was too high-maintenance at times. He always spoke his mind, even if it was against the Dolphins’ wishes.

For example, Dansby was vocal about Miami keeping Chad Johnson despite the receiver's off-the-field issues. In some ways, Dansby was not a Joe Philbin guy, and that carries a lot of weight with the Dolphins.
Who knew the Miami Dolphins disliked their linebackers so much?

Despite a solid 2012 by the front seven, Miami continues to be extremely aggressive making over its linebacker corps on the first day of free agency. ProFootballTalk.com reports that the Dolphins agreed to a five-year, $26 million contract with former Oakland Raiders linebacker Philip Wheeler. The 28-year-old recorded 109 tackles and three sacks for Oakland last season.

This move might also signal the end for Dolphins starting linebacker Kevin Burnett. Miami did a similar youth swap Tuesday evening in adding Dannell Ellerbe (27) and releasing Karlos Dansby (31). Burnett, 30, may not be far behind.

Miami has plenty of other issues to address in free agency such as cornerback, tight end and safety. Linebacker certainly was not at the top of the list. But Miami's front office has made it a priority anyway, signing Ellerbe and Wheeler for a combined total of $61 million on the first day of free agency.

(Update: Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated reports that Burnett has been informed of his release late Tuesday night.)
The changing of the guard at tailback in Miami was nearly a year in the making.

Following Day 3 of the 2012 NFL draft, Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland gushed about fourth-round pick Lamar Miller. Ireland traded up six spots to draft Miller, who played at nearby University of Miami. Ireland knew Miller well and believed he was a first- or second-round talent. But Miller’s stock dropped due to a lingering shoulder injury he suffered in college.

Miller flashed plenty of ability throughout Miami's training camp. He saw his first action in Week 2 against the Oakland Raiders and rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown. Miller also rushed for a career-high 73 yards on 10 carries against the Buffalo Bills in Week 16. Miller received just 51 carries last season but averaged a team-high 4.9 yards per rush.

This is why it was no surprise that Miami will not re-sign starting running back Reggie Bush. The Dolphins believe Miller is ready to take on a bigger role at a more affordable rate than Bush. Miller will pair with former second-round pick Daniel Thomas in Miami next season.

Bush developed into a leader in Miami and rushed for more than 2,000 yards the past two seasons. Bush should get a nice contract elsewhere in free agency. He's earned it, but Bush is far from irreplaceable in Miami.

The Dolphins have plenty of depth at running back and should be fine with Miller, Thomas and perhaps a third running back via the draft or free agency. Miami’s primary focus should be adding depth at weaker positions such as cornerback, wide receiver and tight end.
The New York Jets have to be kidding, right?

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Who would you rather have as the Jets' QB next season?

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Discuss (Total votes: 4,526)

Few things surprise me anymore when covering the NFL. But the Newark Star-Ledger's report of the Jets having "exploratory" discussions regarding quarterback JaMarcus Russell is one of those instances.

Russell quickly flamed out as a No. 1 overall pick in 2007. He had weight problems, work ethic questions and other issues during his three-year stint with the Oakland Raiders. But Russell, 27, declared he is ready to make an NFL comeback, and reportedly that has caught the Jets' attention.

New York obviously is looking for a quarterback after the Mark Sanchez debacle last season. But who knew the Jets were this desperate?

New Jets general manager John Idzik must have a better plan than this. Replacing a quarterback draft bust (Sanchez) with an even bigger draft bust (Russell) is not a formula for success.

Idzik recently said he's "comfortable" with Sanchez at quarterback. But if the Jets' backup plans include shaky options like Russell, Idzik should get a lot more comfortable with the idea of starting Sanchez in 2013.

Tony Sparano leaves the AFC East

January, 23, 2013
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For the past five years, Tony Sparano has been a staple in the AFC East. He spent four seasons as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins and one as offensive coordinator of the New York Jets.

However, Sparano was fired by the Dolphins and Jets in back-to-back years. Now, he’s taking his talents to the AFC West.

Sparano was hired Wednesday to be the next offensive line coach of the Oakland Raiders, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. This is a position where Sparano flourished before becoming head coach in Miami.

Sparano failed as a head coach and offensive coordinator. But he is a likeable person who is well-respected in NFL circles. Sparano should do well in Oakland as a position coach, which is more in his comfort zone.

Morning take: Aaron Hernandez update

September, 17, 2012
9/17/12
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Here are the most interesting stories Monday in the AFC East:
  • New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was seen on crutches and in a boot after the team's loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Morning take: It's easy to see why the Patriots signed Hernandez to a contract extension. The offense looks ordinary without their vaunted two-tight end combination of Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. The boot is not a good sign. I wouldn't be surprised if Hernandez misses Sunday's huge game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Morning take: You almost forget about Hartline because he was injured during training camp and the preseason. But his nine receptions for 111 yards were big for the confidence of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
  • New York Jets receiver Santonio Holmes says the Pittsburgh Steelers’ secondary did not give the Jets problems.
Morning take: Pittsburgh was much more physical than Buffalo in Week 1, and that seemed to throw off New York’s timing. It also didn’t help that Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez went cold the entire second half.
  • Defensive lineman Marcell Dareus thanked the Buffalo Bills and the fans for rallying around him after the passing of his brother.
Morning take: Football can be a respite for some players during a tough time. Dareus grieved the passing of his brother and decided to play in a win over the Kansas City Chiefs. He recorded two tackles and a sack.
Reggie BushRobert Mayer/US PresswireReggie Bush led a Dolphins running game which outgained the Raiders' by 259 yards to 23.

MIAMI -- Reggie Bush doesn't care about next season. The Miami Dolphins starting tailback only has one year left on his contract, and Bush wants to win now.

The same goes for Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. All summer he's heard critics talk about his growing pains would hold the Dolphins back in 2012. But Tannehill made huge strides in his second NFL start to put together a winning performance.

Bush and Tannehill shined together in Miami's 35-13 trouncing of the Oakland Raiders. Bush ran for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Tannehill threw for 200 yards, passed for a touchdown, ran for a TD and had a career-best 91.0 passer rating. They embody the biggest hopes of what the Dolphins can be -- this year and in the future.

Miami is a rebuilding organization. But these are the games the Dolphins must win to begin turning their franchise around.

Oakland (0-2) is a bad team coming off a short week and a long road trip. The Dolphins (1-1) took advantage to get back to .500 and set up a huge divisional game next week against the New York Jets (1-1).

"All we wanted to focus on was winning this first game, and everything else didn't matter," said Bush. "I think this game is huge for the confidence of this team. Obviously we're a very young team and we got a long ways to go."

Bush had one of the best games of his career. He worked very hard this offseason to have a career year and continue to prove that he can be a feature back. Bush said his goal is to lead the NFL in rushing. He's averaging an impressive 120.5 rushing yards per game so far this season.

Bush's best play against the Raiders was a 65-yard touchdown run up the left sideline. But it was his consistency and toughness that was most impressive. Bush isn't the biggest running back, but he continued to grind out tough yards and run through Raiders defenders until it became easier to run the football in the second half.

"We kept hitting them," Dolphins guard Richie Incognito said. "Then eventually those 8-, 9-yard runs, those will start breaking for 20, 25."

Bush agreed that Miami's offense pounded Oakland's defense into submission. The Raiders led 10-7 at halftime but were outscored 28-3 in the third and fourth quarters.

"Once we continued to press that tempo against them, we felt like we wore them down," Bush said of the Raiders. "We wanted to wear their defensive line down and just continue to pound the ball. I think it showed throughout the game."

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PresswireRyan Tannehill threw for a touchdown, ran for a score, and had no turnovers.
Tannehill showed maturity passing well and bouncing back from his poor Week 1 performance. The Houston Texans confounded Tannehill last week by forcing the rookie into three interceptions. Tannehill made the proper adjustments and played much more efficiently in this game. He had no turnovers.

Tannehill also avoided having any batted balls at the line of scrimmage after getting six batted down last week. Tannehill is quickly developing good chemistry with his new favorite receiver in Brian Hartline, who had nine receptions for 111 yards.

Miami was winless in the preseason and after Week 1 of the regular season. It's been a five-week journey for the Dolphins to finally get a victory. But it comes at a good time for a team in need of confidence in the second week of the regular season.

“That feeling in the locker room after celebrating with the guys after a big win, that’s what you play for,” Tannehill said. “After five tough weeks of losses and rough locker rooms, we knew we were improving every week. We knew were going to get the wins. But to finally have the win come in our first home game was a lot of fun.”

This also was the first win of the Joe Phibin era in Miami. The Dolphins' rookie head coach brought in an up-tempo, West Coast offense. But Philbin did a good job Sunday of playing to the strength of his personnel. This is a trend Philbin must continue to win games.

The Dolphins' strength lies with their running backs and defense. If the Dolphins can run well, play physical defense and let Tannehill make the throws when needed, Miami can be a tough out on most weeks, particularly at home.

Philbin found the right mix this week. The Dolphins had a run-to-pass ratio of 43 to 30. Philbin was doused with Gatorade after his first win, which caught the coach off-guard.

“I think it’s great for the entire organization,” Philbin said. “Everybody, since the day I’ve gotten here, has been 100-percent supportive behind the program, whatever we’ve tried to do."

How far can Miami go this season? That remains to be seen.

The Dolphins have a lot of holes on their roster. That is something they cannot control. But Miami can control its ability to play smart, tough and efficient football on a weekly basis. If the Dolphins can do that, they should be competitive.

It was a wild weekend in the AFC East. The New England Patriots (1-1) and Jets (1-1) both lost, while the Buffalo Bills (1-1) picked up their first win of the season.

One good win by the Dolphins Sunday suddenly put them in a four-way tie for first place. Who would have thought?

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 35, Raiders 13

September, 16, 2012
9/16/12
4:13
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MIAMI -- A few thoughts on the Dolphins' 35-13 blowout victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.

What it means: Miami won the first game of the Joe Philbin era in convincing fashion and got back to .500. These are the games Miami must win this season. The Dolphins were at home against an awful Oakland team coming off a short week, and Miami took care of business. The Dolphins are trying to re-establish a home-field advantage after a long stretch of struggling at Sun Life Stadium. They did a good job of jumping on the Raiders on Sunday.

Bush plays big: Miami's Reggie Bush continues to prove he can be an every-down back. Bush worked hard in the offseason to improve his durability and had one of the best games of his career. Bush rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Bush took a lot of pressure off rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who played his most consistent game of the season. Tannehill threw for 200 yards and scored two touchdowns (one rushing, one passing).

Hartline reliable: Miami found a reliable weapon in the passing game in Brian Hartline, who got his first start of the season. Hartline ran crisp routes and caught the ball well. He finished with nine receptions for 111 yards.

Pass defense needs work: Miami’s secondary has played shaky the first two weeks. Oakland lost the game big but had a lot of explosive passing plays against Miami's defensive backs. Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 373 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

What's next: The Dolphins have a big division game next week against the New York Jets at Sun Life Stadium. This will be the first meeting since last year’s implosion by the Jets in Week 17. It will also be the first division game for Miami this season.

Raiders-Dolphins halftime notes

September, 16, 2012
9/16/12
2:30
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MIAMI, Fla. -- The Oakland Raiders lead the Dolphins 10-7 at halftime.

Here are some notes at intermission:
  • It was a hot-and-cold half for Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The 2012 first-round draft pick started the game hot and capped Miami’s opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. But Tannehill has since gone cold and lost his accuracy. He is 9-of-19 for 85 yards. These are the growing pains and inconsistencies Miami has to endure while Tannehill learns the NFL game.
  • Miami’s running game has been solid. Starter Reggie Bush (34 yards) and backup Lamar Miller (25 yards) both have had their moments. The Dolphins' run blocking has been better than their pass blocking.
  • Speaking of pass blocking, Dolphins left tackle Jake Long was beat in the second quarterback by Raiders defensive end Matt Shaughnessy for a sack. Long used to go long stretches where he didn't allow a sack. But the Dolphins Pro Bowler hasn’t consistently looked himself this season. Long is playing through a knee injury he suffered last month.
  • The Dolphins started receiver Brian Hartline over Legedu Naanee after Naanee struggled in the season opener. Hartline had a good first half. He recorded four catches for 56 yards. Hartline is running crisp routes and catching the ball well.

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