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AFC East: Hauling the mail

7/26/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
After starting the new gig on Wednesday, my mailbox quickly filled up.

Most of the messages were from people trying to track down old debts. But if I've said it once, I've said a bazillion times: "You'll get your money when you stop talking smack about me, mom."

Mixed in with the invoices were some AFC East questions. Let's dole out some answers ...

Evan from San Diego writes: Will Brett Favre seriously get traded to my Jets? Is there a serious chance of this happening. I have been a fan forever, and this would make them a legitimate contender this year wouldn't it? I mean are the Jets once again toying with me, or are they continuing what they started on this offseason?

Tim Graham: This is looking increasingly like a legitimate possibility every day.

With Commissioner Roger Goodell applying pressure, it has become apparent a trade's coming. The Packers want to ship Favre to a place where he can't haunt them later in the season, whether it's in the regular season or the playoffs. That's why they're refusing to grant him a release. They dread the possibility of facing him twice within the division.

In that regard, the Jets are a gorgeous destination for the Packers. The only way they would cross paths with Favre as a Jet would be in the Super Bowl.


Jaren in Palo Alto writes: There are several Quarterback unknowns throughout the league that are hot items now. One that particularly stands out is the Dolphins' situation with three QBs competing for the start. When do you see them making a decision and who has the edge is starting and finishing the season?

Tim Graham: Dolphins coach Tony Sparano would like to know what direction he's headed by the third preseason game. The pecking order is Josh McCown (veteran stability), John Beck (still needs to find a comfort zone), Chad Henne (way too erratic in offseason workouts I saw).


John from Boston writes: Do the Buffalo Bills make the playoffs this season?

Tim Graham: I think they do. They clearly were the second-best team in the AFC East last year despite having young players in critical positions, and they made significant offseason improvements.

QB Trent Edwards enters training camp as the unquestioned starter. He played well as a rookie, and the playbook should get bigger for him under new offensive coordinator Turk Schonert. The tools are there for Edwards. RB Marshawn Lynch is dangerous. Lee Evans is a Pro Bowl-caliber WR and 6-foot-6 rookie James Hardy adds a much-needed big target.

For all of the defensive additions (most notably Kawika Mitchell and Marcus Stroud), the player who could make the biggest "newcomer" impact is second-year MLB Paul Posluszny, the former Butkus Award winner who suffered a broken arm three games into his career and is itching to make a statement.


Patrick from Sacramento writes: Tim, what are the chances that Jason Peters will sit out the entirety of training camp for the Bills? They need him desperately.

Tim Graham: That's the biggest question mark in Buffalo. He might miss a huge part of training camp, but the dispute would have to reach Trump-Rosie proportions to last into the season. Bills Chief Operating Officer Russ Brandon is talking tough now, and Peters' silence is speaking volumes for him. But there's too much on the line for both sides to let this drag out too long.


Chri from Parts Unknown writes: Jets will win 8-9 games w/o Favre, w/ him they are a legitimate playoff threat. Jets have rebounded quite well after a down year for the past decade and really shored up their weak spots. Guys like you need to wake up.

Tim Graham: You make an excellent point. If the number of Jets victories every year were put on a chart, it would look like Charlie Brown's shirt. They haven't had consecutive winning or losing seasons since 2000 and '01. The past five years they've won five, 10, four, 10 and four games.


Jack in Nashua, N.H., writes: long time, first time. i'll hang up and listen.

Tim Graham: I don't know how to respond. You stole my thunder.


Nik from Cleveland writes: how is the jets o line looking? do you thing they can produce a 1,000 yard rusher this year?? holla at your boy!

Tim Graham: The Jets' offensive line will be the key to their offense, regardless of who the quarterback is. They've sunk a lot of money into compiling a unit with four former first-round draft picks (LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, LG Alan Faneca, C Nick Mangold, RT Damien Woody). They could be dominant. They better be.


Jeffrey from Pocatello, Idaho, writes: With all the questions about the patriots secondary is the Law returning a realistic possibility, or am I just reliving the glory days?

Tim Graham: Ty Law's return to the Patriots doesn't look promising. The Patriots have brought in several CBs in hopes of replacing Asante Samuel and Randall Gay, so if they were interested in the 34-year-old Law they almost certainly would have signed him by now.

So, yes, you're living in the past. But that Steve Grogan neck roll looks good on you.


Chioke Hassan from Baltimore writes: Could you see Ken Stabler making the Hall of Fame?

Tim Graham: Absolutely. The Snake has one of those auras that causes me to think he already is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Whenever I'm reminded that he hasn't been inducted, I always feel a bit caught off guard.

Stabler's repeated drunken driving arrests have hurt him. So does the fact he threw 194 TD passes and 222 interceptions, but take away his Oilers and Saints days and he has seven more TDs than picks.

He has been a finalist three times, most recently in 2003. I think he deserves induction.


Mike from Kalispell, Mont., writes: I covered Lex Hilliard in High School and college and wondered about his chances on making the team. Thanks!

Tim Graham: The Dolphins used a sixth-round pick on the Montana running back. They're building for the future, and new GM Jeff Ireland had a remarkable track record with the Cowboys of his draft picks making the roster.

Not only should Hilliard make the team, but also with Ronnie Brown working his way back from season-ending knee surgery, Hilliard could find himself getting meaningful carries early in the year if he can make an impression in camp. He'll be competing with fellow sixth-round pick Jason Parmele from Toledo and veteran Patrick Cobbs, who's more of a special-teamer.


Jon from Parts Unknown writes: Tim, A lot of people are talking about the Patriots defense. Though certain positions are aging, I think we have addressed major defensive needs with some young players. With the addition of Capers as coach, I think our defense can actually be better than last years. If we use the running game as well, I think this years team will be more dangerous than last year. What do you think?

Tim Graham: I agree that the Patriots can benefit from new blood, but it's scary to imagine the Patriots being even more dangerous. They'll lose some games this year, but they're still the Super Bowl favorite.


Jeramie from Vermont writes: Hello, Per your blog post re: Dolphins Position Battles, you say: "The 40th pick of the '07 draft started four games and failed to mount a scoring drive in any of them." Well just from the stat sheet you link in the same post, in the last game against Cincy he had a TD pass and a run for a TD. I think they both qualify as leading scoring drives. Its really only significant because I think that game might be the spring board that gets him a very good luck by Pa
rcells & Crew. Yes hes not "their" guy, but remember Phil Simms was highly unproven holdover when Parcells took over the Giants. Beck has a lot of the toughness, work ethic and intangibles that Simms had so don't be surprised if he wins the job.

Tim Graham: Beck's scoring drives didn't occur in any of his starts but during mop-up duty in the season finale. But you're absolutely right, Jeramie. Those two touchdowns did wonders for Beck's offseason psyche.

Those drives (against the Bengals' reserves) were insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But they proved to Beck he could be an effective NFL quarterback and put him in a happy place heading into offseason workouts, where he has been a workout demon.

While Miami's coaches love his work ethic, they're leery of that sidearm delivery he picked up after a shoulder injury at Brigham Young. He's trying to correct the flaw to give himself the best chance to compete in camp.


Ian from Boston writes: Hey Tim. Other than Mayo, which Patriot rookie do you think will make an immediate impact?

Tim Graham: CB Terrence Wheatley has the potential to be a special player. It will be tough for a rookie to outplay a veteran such as Fernando Bryant in training camp, but Wheatley will see plenty of action and eventually be a starter for a long time.


Washington from D.C. writes: In a fantasy draft would it be wiser to take Ricky Williams over Kevin Jones in the late rounds or the other way?

Tim Graham: If you're in the type of league where other owners' research consists of last year's stats and a rundown of top rookies, then wait and steal Ricky Williams. If you're in a league with savvy competitors, consider taking Williams in the middle rounds. I think he's going to be very good this year, but once Ronnie Brown comes back, carries will be spread.

Kevin Jones would be highly risky because, like Brown, he's still trying to regain his form after a knee injury. But if you can get Jones late, he could give you late-season production.